Old-fashioned White Bread

two loaves white bread with butter and knife on cutting boardOne of the simple joys of life is the aroma of warm homemade bread when it first comes out of the oven. And, when the bread is thickly sliced and smothered with butter, it is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Though I’ve been making hundred-year-old recipes for years, I recently realized that I’ve never made a hundred-year-old recipe for White Bread, so when I came across a White Bread recipe in a 1920 cookbook, I just had to give it a try.

The bread did not disappoint. This classic white bread has golden crust, and a light and fluffy texture.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for white bread
Source: Balanced Daily Diet (1920) by Janet McKenzie Hill

When, I made the recipe, I substituted a packet of dry yeast for each cake of yeast.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

White Bread

  • Servings: 4 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 packets dry active yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 quart (4 cups) lukewarm water (110 – 115° F.)

2 tablespoons shortening

3 quarts (12 cups) bread flour

1 tablespoon salt

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water. Add shortening and half the flour;  until smooth beat.  Add salt and then gradually add the remaining flour until the dough reaches a consistency where it can be handled. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put in a large greased bowl, cover and place in a warm spot that is free from drafts until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down, then divide dough into four equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in four greased loaf pans, and cover. Let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Bake loaves in 375° F. oven for 35 -45 minutes or until lightly browned.


60 thoughts on “Old-fashioned White Bread

      1. Thank you. The recipe sounds good. I was disappointed with rolls I made a month ago. I kneaded the dough for eight minutes, as instructed. They were not good — tasted like flour. I wonder if I added too much flour to keep it from sticking.

        1. hmm. . . I don’t know what might have caused the problem. I agree that somehow the proportions might have been off. Another thought, did you use bread flour? It might have a better flavor than all purpose flour.

    1. Hi AG, I know what mean about eating bread (carbs). I’ve turned my health around 180 degrees. No more joint pain and best of all no more T2G. Lovin life.

  1. I bake all my bread but like one with lots of seeds and whole wheat. I am interested that shortening appears here. Growing up I used lots of shortening, but I don’t even have a can any more. I wonder when it stopped being essential.

    1. This recipe appeared in a 1920 cookbook promoting Crisco that Proctor and Gamble published. Crisco (and other shortenings) were considered more modern and sanitary than lard back then.

  2. I just made white bread yesterday for I needed more bread. Usually I make wheat but with Leona not feeling well I just did white. I found it interesting that quicker, stronger fermentation makes a better bread, never knew that. Nice nice to know!!

    1. I hope that Leona feels better soon. I also found the statement about quicker, stronger fermentation making better bread interesting. I wondered if that is still the current belief. Personally I tend to prefer regular dry yeast over quick rising .

  3. I made dinner rolls over the holidays using two different recipes. They both turned out just okay. I am aiming for the dreaming bread with the crisp crust and light interior. I’ll keep practising . . .

    1. This recipe makes 4 loaves. I guess that people had big families a hundred years ago, and needed to make lots of bread. You may want to divide this recipe in half to make it a more appropriately-sized recipe.

    1. It sounds absolutely wonderful to bake bread in an old-fashioned stove. I bet that you were very skilled in the art of baking bread with that stove. I love cooking that is a bit challenging, and requires knowledge and skill.

      1. in fact it was super easy, I’m not a cook by any means but I’d leave the loaf on the oven as it heated up and by the time the oven was warm enough it had risen nicely! Had to make three as the friends made a habit of visiting on baking day!

        1. Everything you describe sounds lovely. I wish that I’d been one of your neighbors. I definitely would have found an excuse to stop by on bread-making day. 🙂

  4. I used to make bread about forty years ago. Come to think of it, I was forty pounds heavier, too. Not a good thing. I love fresh bread. You make me think how I may make bread one time with my granddaughters, just to share the experience. Thanks for the memories and the inspiration, Sheryl.

    1. When making hundred-year-old recipes I knead the bread; but, like you, my husband and I often use a bread machine when we make homemade bread.

  5. That’s a great looking loaf of bread.
    I really like good bread (I don’t care for sandwich bread). That’d be a reason the various diets in vogue which eschew bread would be a complete non starter for me.

  6. Thanks Sheryl, Today is the 5th time I made this. Will continue making this bread as it is very easy and has a very great taste.

    1. Thank you for taking a moment to write a note about your experiences with this recipe. I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone likes a recipe.

  7. Wow this is the 24th loaf of your wonderful bread. Sad to say that because I’m carnivore I only taste the bread. The plus side is I’ve tasted the bread 24 glorious times. Now my daughter is now a believer. Many more loaves in the future.

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