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Jenny Bardwell with bread.jpg

Salt rising bread expert Jenny Bardwell is pictured with fresh loaves of bread.

Do the dark days of winter have you thinking about baking bread again? If so, maybe it is time to learn the Appalachian art of making salt rising bread.

Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, West Virginia, will offer an online workshop on making salt rising bread at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. Cost of the workshop is $25. Registration includes free access to a videotaped lecture on the history and lore of salt rising bread in Appalachia.

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 yeast-less bread with a colorful American past going back to early pioneer days in the mountains of Appalachia. Over time, the knowledge to make salt rising bread 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 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. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and earned a master’s in Plant Pathology.

Tickets to the bread-baking workshop are available at carnegiehallwv.org. After registering, the participant will receive the information about how to join the online workshop and view the lecture on salt rising bread.

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