Salt-Rising Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

Salt-rising bread is one of the greatest inventions, which I think of as peculiarly Southern. It smells and tastes a little bit “cheesy” and is not to everyone’s liking, but it makes excellent sandwiches and toast. Because of the timing and temperature, it takes a little practice to make a perfect loaf.


  • 2 medium-size potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 cups sifted flour, approximately
  • 2 tablespoons shortening or butter, at room temperature


  1. Place the potatoes, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a 3-quart bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Cover with plastic wrap or foil. Set the bowl in a pan of warm water over the pilot light of a stove, or where it will stay at about 120 degrees, until small bubbles show in the surface, 24 hours or longer.
  2. Remove the potatoes to a sieve and press out the excess moisture. Add this liquid to the potato water still in the bowl. Discard the potatoes.
  3. Add the milk, baking soda, and 4 cups flour to the bowl. Stir until smooth. Set the bowl again in the pan of warm water and let it stand for about 2 hours, until the dough is almost doubled in bulk.
  4. Cut the shortening or butter into 1 cup of the remaining flour. Add this to the dough. Add enough additional flour, about 3 cups, to make a moderately stiff dough. Knead on a floured surface quickly and lightly. Do not let the dough get cold.
  5. Return the dough to the bowl, grease the surface of the dough, and let it rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
  6. Turn the risen dough out on a lightly floured surface and shape into 2 loaves. Place in greased loaf pans (9 × 5 × 3 inches) and grease the tops of the loaves. Let rise again for about 2 hours, until almost doubled in bulk or slightly above the tops of the pans. Sprinkle the tops with cornmeal, if desired.
  7. About 15 minutes before the loaves have finished rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  8. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 35 minutes longer, or until the bread shrinks from the sides of the pans and is well browned. Cool on a rack.