I have yet to make a successful batch of this old fashioned bread here at home, but when visiting West Virgina it turns out every time. I'm beginning to think the secret is the clean mountain air and the genuine hearts of the bakers themselves. This hard, dense bread has an acquired taste that has taken me 29 years to appreciate. When we bring fresh loaves home, they disappear within 1/2 an hour, and only that long because the toaster cannot keep up with my little girls demands. We like salt rising bread sliced thin, 1/4-1/2", and toasted until brown on the outside with butter or sliced tomato.
In a quart jar place 1 shredded or sliced thin medium potato with the skin, 1 heaping T. cornmeal, 2 Heaping T of Sugar, 2 Heaping T of Flour, 1 level t. baking powder, 1 pinch salt. Cover with 1 pint of boiling water. Stir really good. Sit it in a very warm place overnight, like in the oven with the light on. The next day it should be foaming on top. If it isn't, throw it out and try again another day! (this is where it fails for me, I cannot get it to foam!) If it is foaming (yay!) proceed to Step Two.
Pour the contents of the jar into a very large bowl. Strain out all the pieces of potato. Add 1/2 gallon of warm water. Add 2 T. salt and enough flour to make it like a cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the oven (with the light on for warmth) for 1 hour.
Take the bowl out of the oven and add enough flour to make a soft dough. Add the flour a little at a time so you don't add too much. Divide into 5 equal portions and work each with your hands into a nice soft loaf. Put into greased pans. Let rise in the pans (back in the oven with the light on) for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Lightly fork holes all over the top - every inch or so to let air escape while baking (if you don't do this, it will explode around the edges) But don't fork too deep or they will fall. Bake the loaves at 350 degrees for 1 hour. When they come out, rub a little bit of butter over the top to keep them soft. Remove from pans to cool.
When cooled a bit, wrap them up in plastic wrap they freeze well too.