- Salt-rising Bread Starter:
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup lukewarm whole milk (90 to 110 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- Make starter: In a glass bowl mix together all ingredients for starter. Cover with a plate and place in a barely warm oven for 12 hours, or until top is covered with 1/2 to 1-inch of foam (a gas oven with pilot light is warm enough or heat electric oven to 250 degrees for 20 minutes; turn off before placing bowl in oven.) Keep warm.
- Make bread: Strain liquid from salt starter through a sieve set over a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 cup warm water over potato, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible; discard potato. Stir baking soda, milk, butter and salt into potato liquid. Add 2 cups of flour and beat until very smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups more flour, stirring until dough comes together. Sprinkle remaining flour over work surface, turn out dough and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, until dough is smooth. Divide in two and form into loaves. Place loaves in 2 well-buttered loaf pans, cover and set aside in a warm place to double, 4 to 5 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until bottom of loaves sound hollow when tapped. Turn loaves out of pans and cool completely on racks before slicing.