Salt Rising Bread

We love salt rising bread.  Try finding that at your local bread store.  Maybe you can but we surely can’t.  Kirchoff’s in Paducah makes it but they don’t make it often and this year was the first year I’ve ever been able to get it during the quilt show.  When we lived 2 hours from Paducah, I was able to get it more often and there was a bakery in Bowling Green, KY that made it also.  Maybe it’s a Kentucky thing!

When I walked into the house with two loaves of salt rising bread last weekend, I thought Vince and Chad were going to knock each other down getting to the kitchen.  Thursday I began the process of making a batch.  It was just ready to come out of the oven when Chad walked into the house on Friday afternoon.  Yep, I do believe a way to a man’s heart is through his tummy!

If you’ve never had salt rising bread, I’ll warn you . . it stinks!  Vince, who will eat anything, said “It’s so good once you get past the smell!”  It smells like stinky Italian cheese or . . toe jam!  But, it makes the very best toast and even better than best (is that possible?) grilled cheese sandwiches.

It isn’t  hard to make but it takes a while.


1.  Peel and slice 2 medium or 3 small potatoes.  There’s no real specific amount because the potatoes get dumped in the end.

2.  Pour 1 quart of boiling water over the potatoes.


3.  Stir in 1/4 c. non-degerminated cornmeal, 2 T. sugar and 1 tsp. salt.  Read the labels to find a non-degerminated cornmeal.  Whole grain or stone ground cornmeal should be non-degerminated but you really need that germ.

The cornmeal isn’t going to dissolve or anything . . it will still be there.


4.  Place the potato bowl inside another bowl and pour boiling water in the larger bowl.

5.  Place the bowls somewhere so they’ll stay as warm as possible.   I put mine in my electric oven and leave the light on.

6.  Leave the mixture brewing for 24 hours.  Replace the hot water in the outer bowl 3 or 4 times during that 24 hours.


After a while, foam starts to appear.  The magic is working!


Leave it alone for a little while longer and more foam forms and now it smells like stinky cheese or . . toe jam!

7.  Fish the potatoes out, making sure to leave as much of the cornmeal in the liquid as possible.   This is you starter.   Flush the potatoes down the garbage disposal.  They stink!


8.   Scald 1-1/2 cups milk.   Pour the milk, the starter, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 4 cups flour into a large bowl.


9.  Stir all the lumps out.  I sometimes use a whisk.


10.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place this bowl back in the warm place and leave it til it looks like thick clotted cream.  It will definitely have the stinky cheese (toe jam) smell!  Don’t let it sit too long.  It can take anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 3 hours, depending on how warm  your area is.


11.  This is how it will look.  My bowl might have been just a tad small.


12.  See how creamy that looks? This is your sponge.

OK . . at this point I forgot to take pictures.  I know . . you’re glad!  There should be a limit to how many pictures can be in one blog post.

Here’s the rest of the steps:

13.  You may need a bigger bowl.  I can use my Bosch mixer but my Kitchen Aid isn’t large enough for this.  Into 4 cups of flour, stir in 7 T. shortening, 2-1/2 tsp. salt.  Use a fork or your fingers, like you would if you were making a pie crust.

14.  Stir the sponge into the flour mixture.  Continue stirring and adding flour as necessary.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and add more flour as needed.  I use a total of about 6 cups of flour in this step.  This is a very heavy dough.

15.  Divide dough into three balls.  I will freeze one or two at this point.  I wrap the dough that’s going into the freezer in greased plastic wrap, then seal in a bag using the Food Saver.

Whichever ones you’re going to bake, shape into loaves.  Place in greased pans.  Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and return to the warm place.  I put mine in the oven with a pan of hot water.

16.  When rising is done, remove plastic wrap and bake at 350 for about 40 – 50 minutes.


Try to wait til the loaves cool off a bit before slicing.  Sometimes I feel the urge to test the bread . . you know  . . just to be sure it’s good before allowing my family to eat it.




  1. 1


    I don’t believe I’ve ever had salt rising bread, it sure looks and sounds tasty! Any bread make with a sponge is bound to be good, all the flavor has time to develop!

  2. 2

    Beryl says

    Judy, Judy…you are a tease. Every day we are looking for the next clue, and you tease us with yardage, bread and chickens. But I’ll try try to be patient and eagerly await your next clue. My sister and I are having such fun with your pattern. Thanks for being such a delightful person and we do enjoy all your activities. Hugs…

  3. 3

    Marilyn says

    You are right on about the toast and grilled cheese they were the best.
    A long time ago when I was young we had a neighborhood bakery that
    sold this and I can almost taste it now. This is on my to do list for
    next week, if I can wait that long.


  4. 4


    I’ve never had salt bread — never heard of before reading your blog. Is it similar to a sour dough? Or is it one of those things is there’s just nothing else similar? I love every kind of bread I’ve ever tasted, so this is very tempting. It must be delicious to put up with the smell of toe jam!!!

  5. 5

    peggy says

    A million years ago, there was a bakery near my grandparents in East TX. It was one of the important parts of any visit. Going there was a big deal. Then eating the loaves was heaven. And finally, all the days of reliving the bread once it was gone. There’s a real comfort food in my memories, but I don’t think I want to make it. It couldn’t live up to those memories.

  6. 6


    I can’t believe it. In all these years my husband and I have lived all over the country and no one has ever heard of Salt Rising Bread. We grew up on it (NYState) and we love it! Thanks so much for posting this

  7. 7

    Toni says

    Thank you for the instructions for the salt rising bread. Does that ever bring back childhood memories. Several bakeries around here make the bread with a commercial starter. Believe me, it is not the same. We were so disappointed!

  8. 9


    I hadn’t heard of salt rising bread either before your first post about it. It looks wonderful, although the making process looks daunting! Vince and Chad are sure lucky guys!

  9. 11

    Julie says

    Salt rising bread is the best. It makes the most wonderful toast. We can’t get it in Arizona, so I may have to try to make some. Thanks for sharing!

  10. 12

    Bon says

    My grandma used to love that stuff. There was a bakery between my house and hers (a 60 mile trip) that usually had it. On my way to her house I would pick her up a couple loaves and put them in the trunk. I could not stand the smell of the stuff. Let me tell you, you have to really love someone to put that stuff even in the trunk. Always made her day though when I pulled in with it.

  11. 14


    Your piece on SRB was very good. And, your pictures were great. You have made the “real Mccoy!” All too often I find bread that people say is SRB, but in reality, it’s nothing more than another yeast bread with a bit of a different twist on the flavor. I have a website dedicated to SRB. Don’t know if you have come across it, but if you haven’t, you might enjoy reading it:

    Susan Brown

    • 14.1


      Thanks Susan. I’ll check out the website. We love the SRB and it really isn’t that hard to make so I don’t know why I don’t make it more often.

    • 14.2

      Toni says

      After reading your website about SRB, I now know what is wrong with the SRB we can get around here. They are using King Arthur starter. The SRB from both bakeries taste the same and not at all what I remember from years past. Quess I’ll try to make my own. Thanks for all the info. Toni