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.