[Sca-cooks] Salt Rising Bread

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Sat Aug 11 11:43:16 PDT 2007

Salt rising bread is a sourdough bread made from a spontaneously leavened 
batter created about 8 to 24 hours before making bread, rather than from a 
continuously maintained starter.  Unlike a continuous starter which should 
only contain water and flour, these batters often have milk and sugar added 
to them to feed the the leven.

The earliest recipe I have in my collection is from 1879 (Tyree, ed., 
Housekeeping in Old Virginia):

Salt-Risen Bread

Make into a thin batter:
 1 pint of flour.
1 tablespoonful of corn meal.
Half-teaspoonful of salt.

Set in a warm place to rise.  After it has risen, pour into it two quarts of 
flour, with sufficient warm water to mke up a loaf of bread.  Work it well, 
set it to rise again, and when risen sufficiently, bake it.---Mrs. T. L. J.

I question the accuracy of the claim that the leavening is by C. 
perfringens.  In my opinion, the leavening bacteria are more likely to be 
members of Lactobacillus as in the case of normal sourdough.  As with 
sourdoughs, any of the organisms in the batter are likely to vary with 
location.  I would like to see a microbiological analysis of the batter 
before accepting any statements about how the bread is leavened.

These batters are probably not Medieval in origin.  To my knowledge, 
Medieval starters were kept as balls of dough, batters being more easily 
infected by mold than the more solid continuous starters.   From experience 
(and having read a number of different recipes for salt rising bread), I 
think that the batter leavens are a response to mold infections in starters 
that weren't used daily, but I have no direct evidence to support my 

"Salt rising" is something of a misnomer.  The function of the salt is not 
to leaven the bread, but to slow and even out the rise.


>  On one of my left turns associated with my paper on bread, I came  across 
> a
> reference to salt rising bread, leavened with the bacterium Clostridium
> perfringens.  All I have been able to find so far is that this seems to be 
> an
> american bread.  I am not particularly pushing it to be period, but  could 
> this
> have happened in period?  Like most of the recipes I have found,  it seems 
> to
> have "appeared".
> Aldyth

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