On Oct. 23-24 salt rising bread takes center stage at Carnegie Hall. The events begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, with a free online lecture by salt rising bread expert Jenny Bardwell. The next morning at 10 a.m. Bardwell will offer a workshop on baking salt rising bread. Cost of the workshop is $25, and the first 30 participants will receive a copy of Bardwell’s book “Salt Rising Bread: Recipes and Heartfelt Stories of a Nearly Lost Appalachian Tradition.”
In the universe of breads, salt rising bread stands alone. There is nothing else remotely like it, in flavor, personality and technique. It was slow food before there was slow food — a yeastless bread with a colorful American past going back to early pioneer days in the hills of Appalachia. (It might be the first “mountain-to-table” bread.) Over time, the knowledge was nearly lost, but now a new generation of bakers is rescuing the tradition.
Expert baker Jenny Bardwell and her co-author Susan Brown set out to rediscover the secrets and the science behind the bread’s “wild microbes,” unique fermentation and memorable taste. Their search took them from the parlors of Appalachian bread-making elders to the laboratory of a renowned pathologist — to the pages of rare cookbooks, bread museums and pioneer diaries.
Bardwell and lives and works in an Appalachian community where salt rising bread has been a part of life for nearly 200 years. Drawn to understand this beloved heritage bread, she has spent over 20 years extensively researching its history, lore and science. Her quest has taken her to libraries, bakeries and bread museums across the United States and Europe, as well as into the kitchens and living rooms of hundreds of expert salt rising bread bakers.
Bardwell is the former owner of Rising Creek Bakery, in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, which specializes in salt rising bread and ships hundreds of loaves weekly throughout the United States. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, then earned a master;s in Plant Pathology.
Both events require advance tickets. Tickets to the free lecture and the bread baking workshop are available at carnegiehallwv.org. After registering the participant will receive the information about how to join the online lecture and/or workshop. The first 30 people to register for the workshop will receive a copy of Bardwell’s book available for local pick up. Carnegie Hall can ship books for an additional fee. This project is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.