Connie MooreI have never, ever been as frustrated by a recipe in my life as I am with this salt-rising-bread conundrum. I mean, how hard can it be to mix up some cornmeal and milk, heat it up, and keep it hot until it ferments?

ingredients for baking bread

Turns out it is very difficult. On my desk is a stack of a dozen old books with recipes as different as can be. The one thing in common is the heat that must be in constant attendance upon the bowl of starter. Even newspapers as far back as the late 1800s warned that this bread took a steady heat, unlike the beginnings of yeast breads or sourdough breads.

Upon scientific research — which Google enables even the least scientific mind to do — one finds that the starter works because of a pathogen that loves heat. Clostridium perfringens is its name, and making gas is its game. It needs heat to grow, but it can be killed by heat too, so that is where a steady, warm 104 to 110 degrees is needed.

Other names for the starter are "leavings" or "emptings." Descriptions of the aroma are various, too: old cheese, rotten cheese, stinking feet, dirty socks ... Well, you get the picture. Some people just can’t get past the odor. At the rate our starter is not starting, we may never know.

Google does have a number of sites that include recipes. Two websites are of special note. One is a bakery in Pennsylvania that specializes in salt rising bread. Rising Creek Bakery at 105 Main St. in Mt. Morris, PA will even ship the loaf to you.

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