Q: A friend recently reminded me of the tradition of salt-risen or salt-rising bread. I remember it was a delicacy, and an acquired taste. I also think it was common in the South. Is it still available?
Salt-rising bread is practically a cult subject among its fans. Because it's finicky to make, commercial bakeries rarely do it anymore.
Salt-rising bread was common in the 19th century, before the availability of packaged yeast. The origins may be Scottish or German, so the tradition is still found in places that had settlers from those places, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and central New York state, and through the mountain South, particularly around Western North Carolina and Tennessee.
The bread doesn't have an unusual amount of salt. The starter uses naturally occurring yeast. The name may come from using warm rock salt, which retains heat, as a bed for holding the dough. The bread is dense, with a cheese-like aroma from fermentation.
Some small bakeries still make it. Rising Creek Bakery in Mount Morris, Pa., is a good source of information and sells loaves by mail-order for $5.49 plus shipping. Find information at www.risingcreekbakery.com.
Kathleen Purvis answers food questions at charlotteobserver.com/food.