Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

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.

Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

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.

Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

Digging in.

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.

Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

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.

Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

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!

Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

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

Heather Baird
Canned evaporated milk can be used in place of fresh milk in this recipe. Just be sure it’s evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk!.
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 1 loaf

Equipment

  • 9×5 inch loaf pan

Ingredients
 
 

  • 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%

Instructions
 

  • 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!

Notes

Original recipe from Five Roses Cookbook:
Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/3 cups milk, 1/2 c. peanut butter
Method: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together dry ingredients. Mix in the milk, then the peanut butter. Scrape into greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour.
 
Keyword Depression era recipe, peanut butter bread, vintage recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Sources:

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. 

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elopez0218
elopez0218
2 years ago

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.

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
2 years ago

Hi Elopez0218!
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.

pam
pam
2 years ago

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.

Pramod jangid
Pramod jangid
2 years ago

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Ashley
9 months ago

Just made this today – it’s in the oven now! Added choc chips too 🙂
Fingers crossed!

Debra
Debra
9 months ago

5 stars
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.

Pam
Pam
7 months ago

3 stars
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.

Liz Schelper
Liz Schelper
4 months ago

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.

Liz Schelper
Liz Schelper
3 months ago
Reply to  Liz Schelper

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 »

Jax
Jax
1 month ago

5 stars
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!

Sonal
Sonal
2 days ago

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!