Depression Bread


I found this wonderful bread on a website posted by Rosetta from Prescott AZ, here's her description. "During the depression, it was difficult raising a family much less 19 children. My grandmother was a wonder woman and fed 19 children during the depression. My mother tells me they only had a meat dish on Sunday and that was usually chicken. Having beef was unheard of and this bread recipe kept the family from starving through some very hard times. My mother shares the memories of smelling this bread baking every Wednesday as she walked home from school.

When I grew up, we were a family of 6 and my parents struggled to feed us as well. The depression was over, but my mom and dad were struggling to keep the family farm going and take care of 4 kids and my grand parents. Depression bread was a staple around our house and my mom figured out ways to make other tasty treats that we couldn't afford to buy with the dough."

This bread is sooooo moist and have to make it!


2 loaves

Rosetta from Prescott AZ

File under
yeast bread


3 cups water
3 tablespoons melted salted butter (I use Cabot of course)
1/2 cup-1 cup sugar (I reduce amount use honey/maple sugar)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon Salt
6-8 cups white flour (I use combo bread & whole wheat flours)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil instead)
1-2 cups Sugar, depending on how sweet you want the dough (again I reduce the amount using honey or maple syrup/sugar instead)


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (This is what the original writer of the recipe states, does it need to be on for so long? I don't know...I do know my dough rises like crazy doing so) Start with 1/2 cup of tepid water with one teaspoon sugar (on in my case honey/maple product)stirred in and dissolved. Add yeast and let stand while preparing dough base.

Step 2

In a large bowl (I have a huge enamel bowl from my grandmother that I use and because the dough rises so high I'm glad I have it) add water, butter, oil, sugar and mix until dissolved. Add enough flour to make a sticky dough base stirring (the writer uses a wooden spoon because it reminds her of her mother/grand mother)at this point add your yeast mixture and stir into the dough base and mix thoroughly.

Step 3

From here add flour one cup at a time and knead. Turn the dough out on a wooden cutting board that is floured for easier kneading (I have a dough board). This step is the most time consuming but the most important. Add the flour a little at a time until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.

Step 4

Oil the bowl you mixed the dough in and replace the dough ball and cover with wax paper and a towel large enough to cover the top of the bowl completely and let rise until twice it's size. This usually takes an hour or two depending on the warmth of your kitchen. I set the bowl on top of my stove in the center where the warmth of my oven helps with the rising process.

Step 5

Punch dough down and let rise again.

Step 6

After second rising, punch dough down, separate into loaves or 2 inch balls and place in loaf pans or baking pans that have been coated with softened butter or oil. I use oil. At this point you can decide what you want to do with the dough. I've made: 1 small loaf, 1dz breakfast rolls and 1dz sandwich rolls. There's enough dough to make as much as you want, at least I can.

Step 7

Place the pans on the stove top, covered and let rise again. This doesn't take as long, usually 20 minutes or so.

Step 8

Once the dough has risen to 1/2 it's size, place in oven and bake @ 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when the top is tapped.

Step 9

Remove from oven and while the rolls or bread is hot, take a quarter of butter and gently move it around on the tops of the loaves and rolls and let the butter melt over the tops. This keeps the crust of the bread soft and adds such a good flavor to the bread. Split the rolls and place a tsp of butter inside and you have the best hot roll in the world to compliment any meal. Enjoy. You will be hooked. Cover any leftovers and refrigerate. There are no preservatives in this bread so it will not last without molding as long as store bought bread. They freeze well too.

NOTE: ***The following steps I have not done and are the original writings of Rosetta.

Step 10

* For cinnamon rolls: Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and spread with softened challenge butter and a mixture of 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, and chopped walnuts or pecans. Roll dough and cut into 1/2 inch rolls and bake until golden brown. Top with your favorite glaze or icing. Serve hot as a breakfast treat.

Step 11

* For doughnuts: Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter and place on an floured surface to let rise.( My grand mother used a pint mason jar and the lid from her vanilla bottle to cut the doughnut shape). Once risen drop in hot oil and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Dip into powered sugar glaze or cinnamon and sugar mixture and place on a plate and watch them disappear before your very eyes.


Submitted by NSobotka on Tue, 2011-12-13 22:36.

The wonderful comments are Rosetta's, after all it is her recipe. I do use my mother's wooden spoon and my grand mothers huge enamel bowl. I've made this bread 3 times...each time better and better. My last was the best. From this one recipe I made 1 medium size loaf and 12 dozen sandwich rolls. I am NOT a bread baker but I am now...I don't use a bread machine and honestly you don't need one. Be as creative as you wish...

Submitted by NSobotka on Fri, 2011-12-16 23:27.

I have revised and edited the recipe...I'm keeping it as true to the original writer as possible. Doing otherwise would not be respectful to Rosetta...if I can make this bread any one can. It was a recipe for hand use not for break makers. If you use a bread maker you will have to "play" with the recipe. It is a soft, airy bread not dense and heavy. There isn't alot of kneading of the bread and there is a LOT of bread. Unless you have a huge bread maker you will have to reduce the amounts.

Have fun with it...I know I do and I look forward to Sunday bread making!

Submitted by NSobotka on Sat, 2011-12-17 23:18.

Somethings need to be left alone because they are fine just they are...a great saying "if ain't broke don't fix it". The oven's heat from pre-heating obviously facilitates the yeast rising. How do I know this? Because I only had it on warm and the dough didn't rise as well.

Submitted by suehalehayes on Wed, 2011-12-28 23:41.

reminds of days when everyone made bread more than once a day!

Submitted by plmezzano on Tue, 2012-01-17 01:57.

You have a possible 4 1/2 cups of sugar in this bread. Are you sure that is correct? The way it is put together is a little unconventional abut I understand that this is an old recipe and they made the only way they knew how.

Submitted by Peanutty on Thu, 2012-02-02 10:32.

Reminds me of a Portugese sweet bread recipe that I once had. Only difference as far as I can remember is there are no eggs in this recipe. I wonder - if you added about a 1/2 dozen eggs to this recipe - added more flour to make a soft dough, voila, sweet bread. Think it's worth trying out. I can almost taste it as I'm thinking about it. A loverly buttery crumb and a thin soft crust. What heaven that was. The kids would just cut a wedge of bread and have that for breakfast. That was great too, as I wouldn't have to make a hot breakfast that day.

Thanks for the recipe NSobotka.

Happy baking all!!!

Submitted by Lady M on Fri, 2012-03-09 00:34.

My Mother Made 9 loaves of bread every 2-3 says for the 8 of us. She also made a sweet bread for the cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, but not with 3 1/2 Cups of sugar, I think it was about 1 cup.

Submitted by raecatherine on Sat, 2012-04-21 10:51.

Was it ever decided how much sugar is used in this recipe? Could the second amount of 1-2 cups be for making cinnamon sugar for the cinnamon rolls?