Appalachia Appalachian Food

Old Timey Sweet Bread

Pap's Sweet Bread
A few months ago I posted about going down to Pap’s for a piece of his sweet bread. More than a few of you wanted his recipe. Today, I’m going to show you how Pap makes sweet bread.

First he heats 2 cast iron pans on the stove and adds a spoonful of lard to each.

Old time sweet bread

While the lard is melting, Pap breaks 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.

He cuts a stick of butter in half. Then cuts the half in half-adding a half of a half to each pan. (I think I just invented a new tongue twister)

Old fashioned sweet bread

While the butter is melting Pap adds one cup whole milk to the eggs and mixes well; then he adds 2 teaspoons of vanilla and mixes well.

Once the butter is melted in the frying pans, Pap pours most of it into the bowl stirring well. Pap says he likes to melt his butter in the frying pan because it’s one less dish to wash.

Next he adds a little less than 1 cup of sugar to the mixture and stirs well.

Sweet bread like mother made

He then adds 2 cups of self rising flour and stirs till smooth. (Pap’s Mother used plain flour, sodie, and salt. Sometimes Pap makes his sweet bread that way, other times he takes the faster route of using self-rising flour)

How to make sweet bread

Pap divides the batter equally between the 2 pans and puts them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.

Appalachian sweet bread
Pap bakes the sweet bread for 20-25 minutes or till golden brown.

Recipe for paps sweet bread blind pig and the acorn

You can put icing on your sweet bread if you want to, but our favorite way to eat it is straight out of the pan. Pap always liked to open a can of Granny’s peaches to eat with his.

When Pap was growing up in the mountains of NC there wasn’t many sweet treats for kids to eat. Pap had fond memories of the special times his Mother would make their family a pan of sweet bread.


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2011.

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  • Reply
    Audrey Welch
    November 18, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    I made Pap’s sweet bread tonight and it was a HIT! I mean, I have one kid who seems to live off of sweet tea and sunshine and even he asked for another piece. It is almost gone already. Lol I melted a little strawberry jelly, drizzled it on top of my slice, and added some fresh blackberries. Seriously so good! I hope Pap would have been proud of my sweet bread!

  • Reply
    Magda Miller
    June 8, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Just cut the recipe in half and ate it with fresh cut-up strawberries!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Have you received the recipe yet? I have my great grandmother’s recipe. Whether you want thin and crispy or thicker and chewy depends on how thin you roll the dough. Excuse the format but sending g from my phone! 2 cups sugar. 2 eggs. 3 T vanilla extract. 1 cup shortening – cream together. ( I substituted with crisco butter flavor and have also substituted with butter). Once creamed well, add 3.5 – 4 cups self rising flour. Knead well, roll out portions and cut with cookie cutter ( or glass). Bake at 350.

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    October 16, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    My dad grew up North Georgia during the “Depression” without a mother. He talked about someone making tea cakes/cookies for them when they were young. What a treat they must have been. The cookies had a long shelf life, but never lasted that long. He is gone now and I never could get the recipe just right. I would appreciate it if anyone could help by sharing the recipe. Thank you and God Bless

    • Reply
      Auther Ray
      June 8, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      I love Tea Cakes!!

    • Reply
      Milly Cannino
      February 8, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Hello Sue,
      Yes, teacakes were very popular. My mother made them all the time. I would like to share her recipe . It was her mother’s recipe and loved my many. I hope you like them. God bless .

      Cutout Teacakes

      1. Mix together :
      4 cups plain flour
      1 tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp salt

      2. Cut in :
      1 cup shortening


      4. In another bowl mix:
      2 beaten eggs
      1/3 cup milk
      1 tsp vanilla

      5. Combine wet with dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.Dough will be stiff. Roll out . Cut.

      6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 to 12 min.

      Milly Cannino

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 2, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    This sounds great, I was just wondering if a quarter stick of Butter in each pan would work as well as ‘half a half” stick?

    • Reply
      September 2, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      Bill-it sure would 🙂

  • Reply
    Lois Tootle
    August 17, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    This was the only kind of cake my mother ever made when I was growing up in southwestern part of Virginia. Sometimes she would put bananas and applesauce between the layers.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    May 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing Pap’s recipe Tipper! I do want to try it. My Dad has always mixed up tings in the kitchen, I think he makes something like this.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    That recipe sounds so good that I’m sure after one bite…it’ll make you walk down the road talking to yourself…!

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    There probable is out there some where but , I’ve never had a bad slice of bread ever.. it doesn’t matter the color, shape or size …I’m a self proclaimed Bread-a-holic…

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 2, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    My Daddy cooked sometimes too. I remember him making yeast bread and doughnuts. He cooked the doughnuts in a huge cast iron skillet he had found somewhere. It had to be at least 18 inches across. When he would set it on the cook stove, it covered a third of it and then some. He put enough grease in it to float those doughnuts. They would swim around in the grease until their bottoms were brown then he’d flip them over. When that side got brown he would stack up three or four and put a fork down through the hole and pick them up, let them cool a little while the grease dripped off them, sprinkle them with sugar and pass them out to us kids. Now that is the next best thing to strawberry juice and biscuits.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    May 2, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Sounds yummy, and I’m thinking would even be good with a cuppa coffee for breakfast.
    The sweet treat I remember most was from our maternal Grandmother who made us sugar-bread, which was a slice of GOOD bread (French or Italian was about all she bought), buttered and sprinkled with sugar. When I had my daycare, every so often I’d make it for the kid’s afternoon snack sometimes, but I’d sprinkle it with colored sugar – red, blue or green, and it was a very special treat for them.
    Hope everyone has a truly GREAT week.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 2, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Donna Lynn had to come in today and substitute for her boss while he worked on the satellite. Anyway, about 1:30 she played a song by Paul and Pap “Rescue Me,” That Signature Sound they make made me grab the “Shepherd of My Soul” CD and sure enough, it was on there. The musical to “New Birth” is my Favorite…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 2, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    1. My great uncle Glenn Beauford Breedlove was better known as Sweetbread. It was said that as a young man he put a piece of sweetbread in his pocket, when he went a courtin’, with which to woo the girl of his dreams.
    2. My mother made her sweetbread in a rectangular pan and cut it into squares. I don’t remember the recipe because back in those days I slowed down only long enough to grab a piece and run.
    3. I too think the juice off of macerated (how’d you like that fancy word) strawberries is the best thing short of heaven. Unlike Tamela I like mine over crunchy-crusted biscuits crumbled in a bowl. Even toasted light bread will do in a rush.
    4. I rarely wash my cast iron pans. After I use them I put a little cooking oil in them and wipe them good with a paper towel then put dry paper towel inside in case something falls it them. Then I wipe them out again with oil before I use them again.
    5. I thought sweetbread was one word and my spellcheck didn’t, so I had to right click on the squiggly line underneath it and then click on “add to dictionary”. Now it don’t argue.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    May 2, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Good way to remember Pap! You’ve built a platform of friends and mountain love to. Help you deal with the loss of your daddy. I went to a fish fry Saturday that one of my dads friends had and loved it! Had not had fish since daddy’s been gone! Good for my human and spiritual soul!
    Hope your girls are ok with school and such a big loss too!
    Carol Rosenbalm

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 2, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I was talking to someone the other day about how I was craving some of Pap’s Sweetbread and Peaches. I done got the Cast Iron Pans so that’s not a problem. But I wasn’t sure of the ingredients.
    My Printer quit a few months ago, but I can still write. Thanks so much for re-posting Pap’s Sweetbread. I’ll always think of him and granny…Ken

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Old family recipes are just the best. They always bring sweet memories.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I had almost forgotten that my Mom used to fix this on occasion, but she called it cake. Needless to say she probably learned this from her own Mother. She grew up where there was always plenty of a variety of vegetables they grew, milk from the cows, and adequate meat from hogs and chickens. Flour and sugar had to be bought, so not many treats. She told me of a time during WW11 where sugar was rationed. There was an old ration book saved back (they saved everything) when I was a child, but guess it was finally discarded.
    That sweet bread looks delicious, and I know some in my family would love it. Thanks for the reminder of another ole timey Appalachian comfort food. You can’t beat cast iron cooking!

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 9:50 am

    A sweet memory – my Mom made something similar which we enjoyed as a dessert during strawberry season. She would put sugar on the strawberries a couple of hours before a meal so they would juice out before we ate. The strawberries would become mushy, which I didn’t like, but – oooh- that sweet strawberry juice soaked into the sweet bread was heaven!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 2, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I love sweet bread….
    Pap and Granny sure take good care of their cast iron skillets! Just look at them well-seasoned pans, as smooth as silk…that is what keeps the bread and corn bread from sticking. Heat pan with shortening, then heat to your recipe cooking temperature, bake, wipe crumbs (usually none) out of pans! Don’t wash until absolutely necessary, then dry pan with heat and re-season! I usually set my skillets on top of the stove with the hear on low until dry if and when I ever wash and re-season!
    I bet nary a “flake of rust” ever come up on one of those cast iron skillets! Just purty skillets, and of course the Sweet Bread looks mighty good too and why not since cooked in such well cared for pans!
    Thanks Tipper for this repost of Pap’s Sweetbread!

  • Reply
    Betty Louise Saxon Hopkins
    May 2, 2016 at 9:24 am

    These photos of Pap’s sweet bread bring back such good memories of my own childhood. My mother would bake sweet bread for us, and it looked very much like Pap’s. She probably used a similar, if not the same, recipe. She even had the Tupperware mixing bowl and iron skillets like Pap’s for mixing and baking. There was nothing better than a good cold glass of sweet milk and a slice of Mama’s sweet bread. My cousin Barbara said she loved to go to her house because it always smelled like vanilla flavoring. Such sweet memories! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 2, 2016 at 9:08 am

    This sounds so good–I love plain cake like this. This story made me think of my granny’s tea cakes that she used to make when I was little. I used to stay with her when I was a teenager so Grandpa could go to church after she got older & her health wasn’t good. One night we talked about the tea cakes and the next time I stayed she brought out her styrofoam ice bucket (I wonder if yall remember these–they were white with little blue dots and my baby brother could never resist biting the edges of every one he could get close to) Anyway, she kept leftover biscuits in it but this time it was full of tea cakes. She was almost shy about giving them to me–this is one of my most precious memories. My granny was a powerful and formidable woman in many ways–not one to show affection in hugs & kisses & I knew this was a special expression of love.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 8:47 am

    My granny made sweet bread for me & I ate peaches she had canned with it.
    I never knew of anyone making it other than her.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 2, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Looks delightful, I have booked marked this page so I can make later.

  • Reply
    Aline Tanner spencer
    May 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Oh my goodness my mama used to make this for all us kids when we were growing up I had lost the recipe thanks for sharing it is so good.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

    My mother made sweet bread for us. She always said it was easy and was a treat for her growing up as well. I liked it still warm with a glass of milk.
    I’m wishing I had a big ol slice for my breakfast this morning!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 2, 2016 at 8:02 am

    My Daddy liked butter on warm cake of all kinds — never icing. And, when a new baby arrived on the scene, he dipped one of the baby’s toes in butter because, he said, “Anything that sweet oughta have a little butter on it!”

  • Reply
    kay dallas
    May 2, 2016 at 7:48 am

    This is a memory that somehow I almost forgot about. Visiting my grandma and grandpa in Georgia on their farm all the way from Miami, FL. She too made this and it was the “goodest” I ever ate. Sitting at her long, plain wooden table on the plain bench together with the speckled metal dishwashing pans. In the center of this table sat different canned fruits and/or jellies. Many of my memories from my grandparents farm shaped me and stayed with me as I too eventually moved here and started my own farm. Canned my own produce and/or jams and jellies. Love your “memories” Thank you

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 2, 2016 at 7:38 am

    I’ve made this Tip, it’s really good. Canned peached would be good on it or any fresh fruit that you let sit with a little sugar to bring out the juice would be heaven!

  • Reply
    Lorie Thompson
    May 2, 2016 at 7:34 am

    One of our family favorites is my Aunt Reba’s sweat bread and chocolate. The cake is very similar to Pap’s, but the entire recipe is cooked in one large skillet. When it comes out of the oven she pours a rich chocolate sauce on top.
    You will see a 12″ black iron skillet and a half gallon of vanilla ice cream alongside it, on the dessert table at almost every family gathering. Sweet memories. (literally)

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    May 2, 2016 at 7:29 am

    My grandma had a sweet bread recipe very similar to this. Sometimes she would add a bit of fruit to the batter too. Finely chopped apples, maybe raisins or even a few chopped black walnuts.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2016 at 7:20 am

    That looks and sounds delicious! Thank you for reposting this one, Tipper.
    For plain flour, do you know how much baking soda is needed? Thanks again.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    May 2, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Tipper, You Pap’s sweet bread must have been commonly known across the mountains of southern Appalachia, even over into Georgia and my beloved Choestoe (“The place where rabbits dance”). One of my favorite memories of childhood is a pan of sweet bread coming from the oven as we got in from school at Choestoe, walking the mile from the school to our farmhouse. We were hungry and my younger brother Bluford and I “dove into” that warm sweet bread and had a cold glass of milk with it. That held us ’till suppertime and through our evening chores. My older sister, Louise, and my older brother, Eugene, also ate their pieces and had their glasses of milk when they walked in from highway 129 at the “Morse Ford” stop of the bus as it brought them from the high school at Blairsville. They got home later than Bluford and I did. The sweet bread was adequate for all of us–and we even had some left for supper! Wonderful memories, even to the “vanilla/sweet-bread” odor–so enticing and satisfying! Thank you!

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