War Bread

"This is a nice bread from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads. He describes this as "a farmhouse loaf in New England kitchens for more than 150 years. When white flour was scarce, often in wartime, this blend of rolled oats, cornmeal and whole wheat was added to the flour to make it go farther. It makes a delicious loaf that tastes equally good in less troubled times." Prep time includes rising time."
photo by Outta Here photo by Outta Here
photo by Outta Here
photo by Outta Here photo by Outta Here
Ready In:
4hrs 30mins
2 loaves




  • In a large mixing bowl combine the rolled oats, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, shortening, molasses and salt.
  • pour in the boiling water, stirring constantly, till the mixture is smooth.
  • Set aside to cool to 120-130 degrees.
  • Sprinkle the yeast on the batter and blend.
  • Stir in the white flour, 1/2 cup at a time, first with the spoon and then by hand, or with the flat beater of a mixer.
  • The dough will be somewhat heavy and dense and will not have the elasticity of white dough.
  • Nevertheless, the dough will form a shaggy mass that cleans the side of the bowl.
  • Sprinkle on flour to control stickiness if necessary.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with a rhytmic motion of push-turn-fold, or with a mixer dough hook, for 8 minutes. the dough will become smooth.
  • Sprinkle on more flour if the dough sticks to the work surface or your fingers.
  • place the dough in a bowl and pat with butter or greased fingers to keep the surface from crusting.
  • cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put aside for the dough to rise at room temp till twice its original size - about 1 hour (shorter if using rapid rise yeast).
  • punch down the dough and knead for 30 seconds to press out bubbles.
  • divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. shape into balls and let them rest on the work surface for 3-4 minutes.
  • Form into loaves and place in 2 9-inch or 3 8-inch loaf pans. Cover with wax paper and leave till the center of the dough has risen to an inch above the edge of the pans, about 50 minutes.
  • preheat oven to 350 20 minutes before baking.
  • bake the loaves in the oven till they are nicely browned and test done, about 1 hour (I check at about 45 minutes). Turn one loaf out of its pan and tap the bottom crust with your finger - a hard, hollow sound means it is done.
  • if the loaves brown too quickly, cover with brown sack paper or foil.
  • midway through baking and again near the end, shift the pans so loaves are exposed equally exposed to the temperature variations in the oven.
  • remove bread from oven and turn out of pans. place on metal rack to cool.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I have been using this as my family's "daily loaf" for 25 years. It is healthy and versatile. Good for toasting, though it takes almost twice as long to brown as most other slices. I do make other breads but this is the one I keep coming back to.
  2. This makes dense, fairly flavorful bread. It is probably just me, but I think it could use slightly more salt. The dough did rise, but there was little oven spring, so the loaves came out looking quite small. The bread is tender, and I do think it will make nice sandwiches. I may try adding some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, when I make this next time. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.
  3. This is a really nice loaf of bread. Great texture and flavor. I used a combination of regular whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flours as I do not use white flour. And I used olive oil instead of shortening. This might just become my weekly bread recipe, it is that good!
  4. A really great bread but if you dont like molasses you might want to cut back or substitute honey. I loved it though!
  5. Really great bread, and easy! (I usually use a ABM, but made this one as directed, by hand) It reminded me of a bread my grandmother made in the 50's, which most likely was a recipe from the war years. I will be making this one often!


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