Recipe 5: The National Loaf

Pre world war two white bread was universally eaten and any other type was viewed with suspicion. However most of the flour used to make this bread was imported from abroad. With the outbreak of war German u-boats started blockading merchant ships with these kind of imports from getting into Britain. So in 1942 the government introduced the National Wheatmeal Loaf which used all of the wheat grain including the husks. It also had added calcium to prevent rickets. The loaf was dense with a dirty grey colour and was unpopular with a population used to white bread. It quickly gained the nickname 'Hitlers secret weapon'.

Bakers were banned from making any other type of bread except the national loaf. The Federation of Bakers was formed, to assist in organising the wartime production and distribution of bread. Sliced bread was also banned as it was seen as a waste of energy.

A government wartime rhyme was:
 “Pat-a-loaf, pat-a-loaf
Baker’s Man
Bake me some Wheatmeal
As fast as you can:
It builds up my health
And its taste is good,
I find that I like
Eating just what I should.

National Loaf recipe:

(Yields: 10 loaves)
Potato Flour - 1740g
Salt Sea Fine - 140g
Tap Water - 4740ML
Vitamin C - 6g
Wholemeal flour - 5220g
Yeast - 210g

Mix all ingredients in spiral mixer for 3/5 min
Place dough in lightly oiled container, let rest for 45 minutes
Knock back and let rest for another 45 min
Scale at 1kg, first shape (round)
Rest 10-15 min, then second shape
Place bread in oiled baking tins, prove for 45-60 min at 28-32c
Bake at 208c top 204c bottom, with 5 sec steam. Open vent after 25 min, bake for a further 25 min
Remove from tins immediately and cool on a rack


  1. The formula is really very contemporary and would be quite accepted today.

    1. iam am 12 and using this for 50s food presentation with dripping

  2. I am so going to try this, even tho it wasn't popular in the day, it kept people nourished and full, you could even use the crumbs to stretch your meat ration. Cheers!

  3. This is the recipe I was looking for and I will try and make it for my family. Thanks for posting! Fantastic Blog..BTW!!

    Mrs. Jenn

    1. Hi Jenn glad you like the recipe. Let me know how your baking goes.

  4. Can't wait to use this!!!

  5. how long can I store this? I mean, ten loaves for two people seem a lot.

  6. You can store if frozen for up to 6 months or you can just divide the recipe by 10 to make on loaf

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  8. The recipe doesn't account for the husk that would have been I. The national loaf/government bread! That's what made it taste horrible! I got some from a mill down the road and made some as a experiment(husk inc) and it was nice but very chewy.

  9. Did the National Loaf contain Gluten, as a boy of 10 in '42 I do not recall anything unpleasant in the bread we had. I do remember queueing at the bakers, had to rush to get there in time. The word went round quickly, bread in the shop. Seems to be now a lot of fuss over 'gluten'.

  10. It calls for vitamin c how do you do that? crush a vitamin c pill?

    1. Presumably that's what is intended. However, one can buy pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) powder e.g. on Amazon.