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Breads,  Recipes

How to Make Homemade Bread – 1940’s Style

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I’ve been wanting to make homemade bread since Quarantine began. One thing was holding me back, though. I’ve never made bread and I’ve never worked with yeast. I went ahead and ordered yeast from eBay because the local stores and Amazon were sold out at the time. Everyone was making homemade bread! I guess I wasn’t the only one who suddenly had extra time so I learned how to make homemade bread – 1940’s style – with my grandmother’s recipe!

How to Make homemade bread - 1940's style
Activated Yeast

This recipe is from my grandmother’s 1940’s cookbook. I’m continuing to go through her cookbook to try out vintage cooking methods. The recipes leave out some steps, so I try to add them in when I share them with you.

Ingredients You Will Need

  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Shortening
  • Water
  • Flour
How to make homemade bread - 1940's style
Warm, sliced bread fresh from the oven

Helpful Tips

I had packets of yeast, so I activated it. I emptied one packet into ¼ cup lukewarm water and stirred for about 5 minutes (until it was foamy and smelled yeasty). Each time the dough had to rise, I left it for 30-60 minutes. I set a timer so I wouldn’t forget. Expect it to take 4-5 hours from start to finish. While the dough was rising, I got things done around the house. The recipe says to reduce the heat to 410-425 degrees after 15 minutes. I reduced it to 425 and it turned out a little darker than I would have liked. Next time I will probably try reducing the heat to 410 degrees to see how much of a difference it makes. The top was a little hard so I put a tablespoon of butter on it. It also added to the flavor.

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Final Thoughts on How to Make Homemade Bread – 1940’s Style

Making bread was easier than I thought it would be. Have you made bread before? How did it turn out? If you try my recipe, please let me know in the comments below.

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5 from 1 vote

Bread (Master Recipe)

1940's homemade bread
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 2 Medium Loaves


  • 1 Cake Dry Yeast
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Melted Shortening
  • cups Lukewarm Water
  • 5 cups Flour


  • Soften yeast in ¼ cup of lukewarm water.
  • Stir for approximately 5 minutes, until mixture is foamy and smells yeasty.
  • Add sugar, salt, and shortening.
    yeast, sugar, salt, and shortening
  • Add the rest of the water (1¼ Cups).
  • Add flour one cup at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition until the dough is just stiff enough to knead.
  • Place on lightly floured board.
    Rising bread dough
  • Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Cover with a warm, damp cloth.
  • Put in warm place and allow to double in size.
  • Work down, cover with a warm, damp cloth, and allow dough to again double in size.
  • Work down lightly.
  • Form into 2 loaves.
  • Put in well-oiled bread pans.
    Form dough into loaves
  • Cover with a warm, damp cloth.
  • Put in a warm place, cover, and let rise until double in size.
  • Bake at 450° for 15 minutes.
  • Lower heat and continue baking (410°-425°) for an additional 25-30 minutes.
  • Place a tablespoon of butter on top (if you wish) of each loaf and allow to melt.

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