This Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread was inspired by a 1932 cookbook recipe and uses simple pantry ingredients. It’s rich with peanut butter flavor and can be endlessly varied with a smear of your favorite spread.
I’m slightly late to the game with this recipe, as the original was posted to Reddit last year and became internet famous during quarantine. Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread harks back to a 1930’s Five Roses Flour cookbook published at the height of the Great Depression, and contains recipes for home cooks who may not have a large stock of fresh ingredients.
I did some research before making this recipe because lots of people have made this bread. Almost every account had the same recommendation – more peanut butter. I made the version as written the first time around and agreed with everyone else – more peanut butter!
The second time around I tweaked the amount of peanut butter and added wildflower honey. This was a wonderful improvement! One slice will practically make a meal topped with anything you want to throw at it: Nutella, whipped cream cheese, a drizzle of honey, more peanut butter (and sliced bananas!). Or use it to make the ultimate PB&J sandwich.
Here are the four stages of simple mixing – first whisk the dry ingredients together. (I’m using pink salt in the first picture if you’re wondering what that is!) Second, mix the peanut butter and honey together in a separate bowl. Third, add the peanut butter mixture and milk to the dry ingredients. Finally, mix everything together until a thick, sticky batter is formed.
Scrape the batter into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan and bake for about an hour. Quick breads usually crack in their centers as they bake. So, I recommend helping this along by making a line in the center of the batter using the edge of a rubber spatula.
I checked my loaf at 1 hour and it needed a little longer according to the toothpick test. So I tented it with foil so it wouldn’t over-brown.
What to expect from the oven.
The end result is lightly sweet, slightly crumbly, and rich! It’s best enjoyed with a tall glass of ice cold milk. I’m already thinking of making another loaf with a cup of chocolate chips added to the batter, for chocolate-peanut butter cup flavor!
My updated version of this recipe doesn’t stray too far from the original. However, I’m including the original formula in the footnotes if you’d like to give it a try first. It’s such a simple bake and I’ll be making some in colder months when we crave a stick-to-your-ribs snack. Enjoy!
Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread
- 9×5 inch loaf pan
- 2 cups 254g/500ml all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup 50g granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
- 1 1/2 cups 387g creamy peanut butter (tested with shelf-stable JIF)
- 1/4 cup 84g wildflower honey
- 1 1/3 cups milk tested with 2%
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the peanut butter and honey. Add the peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients along with the milk. Mix using an electric mixer on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and fold the batter to make sure no streaks of flour remain.
- Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. (I tested this recipe with flour-based baking spray in a dark nonstick pan.) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean. When the bread is done, it should be well-browned on the outside (and your whole kitchen will smell wonderful!). If additional bake time is needed, tent the bread with a piece of aluminum foil so it doesn’t over-brown. My loaf baked was done at 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Let bread cool 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. Slice using a serrated knife. Serve slices warm smeared with butter, Nutella, peanut butter, cream cheese – your choice!
Five Roses: A Guide to Good Cooking– The original cookbook produced by Five Roses, a Canadian flour company.
Glen & Friends Cooking – a video of the making of the original recipe.
Reddit r/Old_Recipes– this thread is filled with information and reviews of this bread.
you have 2 cups of flour listed as 300 grams that doesn't sound right I loved the recipe and plan to bake this bread this weekend but am weary of flour amount.
I recommend following the weights of Glenn and Friends cooking mentioned in the footnotes of the recipe, which is 500ml(roughly 254g). Some of the cup measures I have at home are slightly larger than others (the American 'cup' volumes are a bit troubling between manufacturers.) I've updated the recipe with this recommendation, and I hope this helps.
My sister LOVES all things peanut butter; this just shot straight to the top of my "to make" list! Thank you for tweaking the recipe to our (present day) tastes.
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Just made this today – it’s in the oven now! Added choc chips too 🙂
Oh wow, I bet that will be awesome. Hope you love it!
Making the bread today. I am leaving the salt out. Made a pan last night and I could taste the salt. Adding more peanut butter today. I think it will be great.
I missed the boat somehow, my loaf came out heavy and flavorless. Most likely operator error; leaves me wondering if peanut butter powder would substitute. Glad I tried the recipe.
I am going to use some grape jelly swirled into the batter. I am always looking for ways to use up old peanut butter, but have a surplus of grape jelly too. I will let you know how it turns out. Am using a solar oven to bake it to save on electric. Baling usually does well in these ovens even though they don’t get as hot as 325°F. It it clouds up and threats rain I will finish it up in the oven at 250 to 300°F.
Well progress report! Sun oven (AllSeason brand) an hour into baking had a sprinkle of rain and may even 15 minutes of clouding up. I thought it would keep raining, so I pulled the bread and put it into the oven at 280°F. It had already risen and was quite hot. No sooner I put the bread in the oven the sun came back out. My rationale for the 280°F instead of 325°F was that the dough was already cooking at a lower heat, and I did not want to cook it hard on the outside at the higher temp… Read more »
Thank you for letting us all know how it went! The Sun oven baking method sounds so interesting. Maybe I’ll get to try it one day.
I’ve never had the sun oven not make a great bread or make things soft. Ours (all american brand) gets up to 350+ rain or shine. You just have to adjust the time if raining or a little cloudy.
This bread worked perfect in our brand of sun oven. I don’t have any experience with the brand you have. Maybe it’s the angle you adjust it out don’t producing the perfect sun pitch onto the oven and stuff. Ours have a nifty little feature on it to help with that.
Either way sun ovens are great arent they 🙂
Hello, young aspiring baker here! Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe! Its in the oven right now, and it smells heavenly. The batter was amazing and pretty simple to make. Cheers!
Hi, I wanted to ask if the recipe will work with peanut butter that doesn’t contain the additives that make Jif shelf-stable (a PB with just blended up peanuts, basically). I have a jar that’s too big and wanted to try out this recipe!
Hi Sonal, I haven’t tried natural peanut butter in this recipe, but I think it will work as long as it is stirred together well. Sometimes natural PB will separate, so just make sure it’s well blended before using.
I made a loaf yesterday with natural chunky peanut butter – just peanuts and nothing else- . It is delicious and so easy to make. Thank you!