Ale Bread

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When we visited the Watkins Mill a couple weeks ago, I found something there I couldn’t live without. It was a cookbook of recipes used by the Watkins family. One of the daughters, Carrie Watkins, born in 1854 , wrote down her family’s recipes starting in 1870, and continued to do so until she lost her eyesight in the early 1900s. Carrie never married, and so she helped her mother manage the household. In later years she kept house for her brothers, John and Joe. Carrie was the last member of the family to live at the farm. She died in 1949.

The Watkins Mill cookbook contains mostly Carrie’s recipes, from salads and breads, main dishes and sides, to desserts. There are also a few other period recipes as well. A bread recipe from 1760 caught my eye. It only has a few ingredients and doesn’t require kneading or rising time. I just had to try it.


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  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 oz. ale at room temp
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Yield: 1 loaf

Note: I doubled the above recipe to make 2 loaves.

Mix together flour,


and baking powder

in a large mixing bowl. Add ale and mix until just moistened.

Be careful not to over mix. Pour into an ungreased loaf pan, or pans if you’re making 2 loaves, (I doubled the recipe and made 2 loaves), and spread evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing.

This bread goes perfectly with a hearty soup or stew.

I love using old recipes. It’s like traveling back in time without leaving my kitchen, and this recipe will take you back in time 252 years to 1760. Fun!

* For a copy of the Watkins Mill Cookbook, click HERE.
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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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9 Responses

  1. Victoria in Connecticut says:

    How can I get a copy of the Watkins cookbook? I love old recipes!
    And, I love your blog – so simple and always positive.

  2. Doe of Mi. says:

    Well that made me really curious. It looks wonderful and so easy to make,now, how does it taste? And what kind of ale do you use? That has me puzzled.

  3. Tina says:

    Doe asked the question I had…how did it taste? Sounds good looks good…I love old recipes too.

  4. Julie says:

    Nice! I love beer bread and to try one that is this old will be neat–looks good!

  5. Oh my goodness…how wonderful is this recipe! Well, I can assure you I will be making this bread! I just love old recipes as well!! Thank you for sharing and I will be checking out the link to that old cookbook!

  6. Bob says:

    Hi Suzanne. we have tried several of your recipes and they never dissapoint. My wife and I are having this bread along with tomato sauce pasta right now and it’s amazing. Thanks

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