Salt Rising Bread

I found this recipe on Country Magazine and I think I'm going to try it tomorrow since I get to have the house to myself! Yes! The kids are going back to school tomorrow! I have never tried to bake bread without yeast so this will be an experiment, but  I have heard wonderful things about how it tastes. So here is the recipe that I found that is from an old pioneer cookbook.

Doris Musick, Cleveland, Virginia
The night before you wish to do your baking:
Use a pint jar in which you will put 8 tablespoons of cornmeal (the original recipe measures this in inches high, but it will work out to about 8 tablespoons.) The grist mill ground is best because it is ground much slower and doesn’t “burn” the heart of the corn. Add a pinch each of salt and soda, along with just enough sugar to fill the palm of your hand. This works out to be about 1 teaspoon. Then fill the jar with “scalding” water. Stir well. Cover with a lid and let stand overnight in a warm place (the old recipe says to wrap first in a towel and then place in a paper bag, but the point is to keep it very warm and out of a draft. In later years, the cook would place this concoction near a hot air register to keep it warm.)
The next morning, take 1 quart of milk (or you can use 1/2 milk and 1/2 water), combine the starter with 1/2 teaspoon salt and add enough “plain” (all-purpose) flour to make a stiff batter. (I found this to be around 4 cups.)
Stir well. Cover the batter and place the entire bowl in a container of warm water (just warm enough to put your hand in it.) Try to hold the same temperature by setting this in a warm place.  You will likely have to drain some of the water off and replace with warmer water on a continuing basis. Try not to make any drastic change in the temperature as you are adding the warmer water, change only a small amount of water at a time to hold the temperature as constant as possible. It will take 3 to 4 hours to rise. (If it is very slow in rising, you can stir it again, then place the bowl back in the warm water.)
When the dough rises, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 3 to 4 tablespoons of shortening (butter or lard says the old recipe) and flour enough to make a stiff dough. Then knead for 10 minutes.
Shape into 3 loaves. Grease the sides of the loaf pans well with butter, then place the loaves in pans and let rise until they are doubled in bulk. This is usually about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. When the bread has finished baking, grease the crust heavily with butter as soon as you remove from the oven.
Note: the instructions were not specific as our recipes are today, and it may take more than one try to get it right, but the results are worth it!


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