How to Make Liberty Bread

This recipe for Liberty Bread hails from 1918, when rationing flour was seen as a way to support the troops during World War I.

During World War I, food conservation was viewed as a way that everyday Americans could support the troops. People were urged to decrease their use of flour so that more could be sent overseas to feed soldiers and citizens. Rather than using wheat, home bakers were asked to substitute fillers such as bran, cornmeal or potatoes when making bread and other baked goods.

Learn more about war gardens planted during WWI and WWII.

What Is Liberty Bread?

Liberty Bread is a quick bread (opposed to a yeast bread) and is leavened with a generous amount of baking powder. Most of the wheat is replaced with cornmeal and wheat bran.

How to Make Liberty Bread

This recipe comes from a Win the War in the Kitchen pamphlet published in 1918. It makes one loaf of bread.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran*
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg

*If you don’t have wheat bran, use ground flaxseed or oat bran.

Instructions

Step 1: Prep

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, wheat bran, baking powder and salt. Add the water, butter and egg to the bowl. Beat to combine. Spoon or pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Step 3: Bake

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

You can serve this bread warm or at room temperature. To store leftover bread, wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to one week.

Initial Thoughts

I’ve been making a lot of yeast bread lately, so I was intrigued that this recipe uses baking powder rather than yeast as a leavener. I was curious how much this bread would rise in the oven, particularly as the recipe yields quite a wet batter! However, without yeast, there’s no need to wait for rise time, so this bread bakes up in a hurry; a definite plus in my book.

The Outcome

Finished loaf of liberty breadSusan Bronson for Taste of Home

I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the taste of this bread. Given the amount of cornmeal in the recipe, it should come as no surprise that it has a sweet, corn-forward flavor. It’s also quite moist and has a tender crumb—definitely not as dense as I thought it might be. Overall, it’s a nice change from the usual bread I’ve been baking, and a good recipe to have in my back pocket when my flour stash is running low.

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Susan Bronson
Susan Bronson is a writer and editor based in Northern Wisconsin.