Baking Bread using a Vintage Universal Bread Bucket

Universal #4 Bread Bucket

Universal #4 Bread Bucket

Hello.  For my very first blog post I thought I would do one on a common chore that every farm wife was well acquainted with; baking bread.  Today I am  going to be making bread using my #4 Universal Bread Bucket.  This bread bucket was made by the Landers, Frary and Clark Co. in New Britain, CT.  They started making these about 1900 and they won a Gold Medal at the 1904 Chicago Exposition.  This accomplishment is proudly displayed on an emblem on the front of the bucket.  I have two of these buckets and I found them both on Ebay.  They are known as the 3 minute bread maker.  Lets get started and make some homemade bread.

Universal Bread Bucket

Bread bucket, dough hook, crank, lid and clamp.

First I rinse out the bucket with warm water to make sure it is clean and to warm the metal.  Today I am making 4 loaves so I next measure out and add to the bucket 37 oz. of warm water approx. 105 degrees F.  Don’t go over 110 degrees F or it will kill the yeast.  Add 1/4 cup of yeast and 5 tbs. of sugar to the water in the bucket and gently stir.  Allow it to proof while you  measure out 13 cups of flour in a separate bowl, add in 3 1/2 tsp. of salt and mix it in with the flour.  Dump half of the flour and salt mixture into the bucket and attach the dough hook and handle and mix it in fairly well.  Now add the rest of the flour and crank the handle a few more rounds to start mixing it together.

Jeanne McDonald the vintage farm wife.

Turning the handle to knead the dough.

Now is the time to attach the bucket to a solid surface so it doesn’t move around.  I attach mine to a wooden kitchen chair.  You attach it with the bread bucket clamp by tightening it down to the seat of a chair or counter top.  I find it much easier to use a chair as the counter is too high to use comfortably.

Universal bread bucket

Dough raising in bucket.

Once the mixture forms into dough you will crank it around for at least 3 minutes; hence the 3 minute bread maker, this is the kneading process.  Now put the lid on the bread bucket and place it in a warm place to rise.  It usually takes about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.  Once it has risen crank the handle around until the dough forms into a ball and then let it rest for 20 minutes.

During this time you should butter your bread pans so they are ready to go.  After the rest period the dough will have risen some again.  Crank the handle around to punch the dough back down to form a ball.  Next remove the dough hook from the bucket and dump the dough onto a buttered or floured surface.

The vintage farm wife baking bread.

Putting loaves in my Tappan Deluxe oven.

 Divide the dough evenly into 4 pieces and form each one into a loaf to fit into the bread pans.  Cover the bread pans with a clean towel and set in a warm place to rise.  It usually takes 25 minutes or so to rise and it should be about double in size.  You will want to preheat your oven to 425 degrees F before the dough has fully risen.   I’ll be baking the bread in my vintage Tappan Deluxe oven; it bakes like a dream. Don’t make your dough wait on your oven or it will over rise and collapse.  Once the dough is ready place the pans in the oven and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.  When it’s done the bread should have a hollow sound when you tap on it and it should be a nice light golden brown.  When done immediately remove bread from the pans and place on rack to cool.

Jeanne McDonald the vintage farm wife

There’s nothing like a slice of freshly baked bread.

Now for the good part.  Cut yourself a warm slice and slather it with butter and enjoy.  There’s nothing like a fresh warm slice of homemade bread.  The smell in your kitchen alone is worth the effort.

 Thanks for stopping by.


Go, eat your bread with joy, And drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works.

Ecclesiastes 9:7

41 Replies to “Baking Bread using a Vintage Universal Bread Bucket”

  1. Hello Jeanne,
    Your blog brought back warm memories of my mother baking bread and the wonderful smells in her kitchen. Rich and Jack would just happen to stop in when she baked. She would set a loaf of warm bread on the table along with a large knife, and the butter dish. They would slice off both ends and eat them. Then slice off both sides and eat them. Then slice the middle in half and eat them. One loaf, gone! Well, I am going to try to find her recipe. She used a big metal dish pan to mix her bread dough in. Keep those memories coming. Loved your first blog. Sue
    ps. I hardly recognized you until I got to the pic of you with the bucket on the chair. You are one gorgeous chick.

    1. Hi Sue;
      Thanks so much for the kind comment. What a fun way to eat a loaf of bread! I’ll be putting new posts on as often as I can. Check back and hopefully I’ll stir up more great memories.

  2. I was just gifted with a Universal #4 (tin) Bread Bucket with all the parts! I can’t wait to try it out. A couple questions: What is the best way to clean it….hasn’t been used in years? And, is the material it’s made out of still considered “food safe”. Just wondering. Thank you for any info.

    1. Congratulations on receiving a bread bucket! Just clean it with dish soap and warm water dry well. Apply a bit of olive oil to the crank pivot for lubrication. Since they are made of tin they are food safe. I’ve been using mine for years and I love it. I now get 5 loaves out of one batch of dough. If you have any other questions feel free to ask. Have fun with your bucket!

  3. Jeanne, Thank you for providing the recipe. I grew up with my dad using his to make bread only at holiday time. He stopped making and using his bread bucket about 15 years ago. I have been able to find one on ebay and will begin making bread in it this week. I appreciate that you shared the recipe. Have a lovely day. Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine, congratulations on finding a bread bucket. I’m sure you will enjoy using it and making bread like your Dad used to. One thing that I found is that I like to grease my bread pans with butter as this works best. It doesn’t absorb into the dough like shortening or oil will. The bread loosens easier when the pans are greased with butter. Happy baking!

  4. I have my grandmother’s bread bucket from about 70 years ago when I was little. She used to boil a few potatoes and use the mashed potatoes and potato water in the dough. Do you have a recipe for the bucket like that? I have never used the bucket. Looking forward to trying.

    1. Hi Diane, so wonderful that you have your grandmother’s bread bucket! Sorry I don’t have a recipe for the potato water bread. I’ve heard of using potato water to make a sourdough starter for making sourdough bread. There’s no reason that I know of why you couldn’t use potato water in any bread recipe. I’d be curious to see what it adds to it. Probably a different flavor and some nutrition from the potatoes. I might have to try it!

  5. Hello! I’m buying my first bread bucket, and I’m curious if I can use it to make less than 4 loaves? Will it still properly knead if the amount of dough is for 2 loaves? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Katie, Congrats on getting a bread bucket! If the bucket you have is one of the vintage bread buckets that I discuss in my post then no I don’t believe you can only do 2 loaves. There won’t be sufficient enough dough in the bucket for proper mixing. I have done 3 loaves in mine when I first got it. I am currently doing 5 loaves in mine. I just keep one loaf out and freeze the rest until we need them. They keep just fine in the freezer and taste great! Best of luck! Jeanne

        1. Hello again! I was wondering, would you reccomend using food grade mineral oil to keep the tin from rusting between uses? Thanks again!

          1. Hi Katie, I don’t oil mine down between uses as I don’t want anything left on the surface to be absorbed into the dough. I just rinse the bucket out in warm water and wipe it clean and dry. It keeps just fine this way. The only thing I oil is the crank pivot to keep it from squeaking and for that I use olive oil, mineral oil would be fine too. Thanks, Jeanne

    2. Katie:I have used the bread bucket to make just 2 loaves. Never had any issues with regular bread or making large loaves of French Bread. Makes beautiful loaves of bread, and again never any issues in using reduced amounts of baking ingredients.

      Sincerely, David

  6. Does it matter what kind of flour or yeast you use? I grew up with a universal # 4 and it was always such a treat when she made bread and you can guess who was at the crank! Due to the pandemic there is no yeast on the grocery store shelves. I bought some on line, but is it the right kind? Thank you for the directions and wish me luck!
    Terri Laduke

    1. Hi Terri, I’ve used both instant dry yeast or regular active dry yeast. Any brand should work fine. The only real difference is that the instant dry yeast works quicker than the active dry yeast. Best of luck! Jeanne

    1. Hi Terri, After putting in all the ingredients crank until everything is well mixed and starting to form into dough. Then continue cranking for at least three minutes until it forms a dough ball, smooth and well formed. Just crank at a comfortable moderate speed, not real fast or real slow. After doing it a few times you’ll get the feel for it. Happy baking! Jeanne

  7. Jeanne, thanks for the recipe. I saw the bread bucket being used on a chuck wagon cooking video on You Tube. I decided right then I had to get one!! I found one in really good condition on Ebay. I have had it for a couple of years now and have never used it because I wasn’t sure about quantities and times. Now I have a place to start, thanks to your blog! Can’t wait till the weekend to try it out. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Eric, Congratulations on purchasing a bread bucket. I think you’ll really enjoy using it to make bread. I have found that you usually need enough ingredients to make at least 3 loaves for the bucket to mix properly and I do a maximum of 5 loaves. I hope it all works out well for you and if I can be of any help just let me know. Thanks, Jeanne

  8. Jeanne after my 7th try my bread is still dense and coming out like bricks, not like my mama used to make, any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    1. Hi Terri, Make sure that your yeast is good, it should be foamy in the bucket after it proofs. Make sure that you add the flour to the yeast before adding the salt as the salt will kill the yeast if it comes into direct contact with it. I now do 5 loaves and the dough raises to within an inch of the top of the bucket before I crank it back down. It should at least double in size. When you put the dough into the pans they should raise until at least double. I let them raise until they crown over the top of the pan. Make sure they raise in a warm place; I put mine on top of the stove while it is preheating. I hope this helps and if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks, Jeanne

  9. Hi Jeanne: I am so very happy to find your blog! My husband just brought me home my very own Universal! I cant wait to try it out so I appreciate your recipe.

    However, I am missing one piece. The piece that keeps it in place on the table. I havent searched for it yet but will. My question to you is, do you think that will hinder the mixing process? also, if you know where I might find the missing piece, that would be a bonus 🙂

    Thanks for your Blog – Robin

    1. Hi Robin, I too am glad you found my blog! It would be much more difficult to hold the bucket without the clamp. There’s lot of force there when the dough starts to form. I usually clamp mine to a wooden chair with a towel between the bucket and chair so it doesn’t mark up the chair. I just had a look on Ebay today and noticed a few of the clamps for sale there. Your experience with the bucket will definitely be better with a clamp.
      Happy baking!

    1. Hi Beth, do a search on Ebay as there are usually a few on there at any given time. They sometimes show up at estate auctions as well. I just picked up a rare #2 bucket at an auction. Nobody knew what it was!
      Good luck,

  10. My wife picked up a bread bucket at an estate sale, and I tried it out with your recipe. The bread came out pretty good for a first-timer. The grain is very fine, perhaps the yeast was too old, but it was a fun adventure.
    Now what am I going to do with 4 loaves of homemade bread?

    1. Congratulations on getting and using the bread bucket! You can freeze your bread and thaw it out as you need more. It keeps in the freezer wonderfully. I’ve now increased my recipe to 5 loaves and I always keep one out and freeze the rest.

    1. The best way is to use a sharp bread knife and saw it back and forth with a slight downward pressure. Don’t press too hard though, let the knife do the work. Practice will make your slices more even. I have seen bread cutting guides also but I have never used one.

  11. I am so glad that I found your blog about making 5 breads at once in the pail with a crank. My mother used to make bread this way. It was the best bread ever made. My brother in Fla. Inherited this pail, but I think he never used it. I remember going to the store to get the large bags of flour with the flyer wagon. Thanks for your blog.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the bread bucket post. Maybe you can talk your brother out of your mother’s bread bucket!
      Best wishes!

  12. Hello! I just picked up a #4 bread bucket on a whim at a thrift store. I never knew such a thing existed and, as an avid bread baker, grabbed it mostly just for display because it’s so lovely. Of course now I want to use it! The inside of my bucket has a little bit of fine rust powder. Is there a way for me to get rid of that so my bucket is useable?

  13. Congratulations on your bread bucket purchase. You will really enjoy using it. If it just has a fine bit of rust I would just wash it well and scrub the rust out with a scotch brite pad and soapy water. Afterwards just be sure and dry it well. You can always apply a light coating of vegetable oil. Put some vegetable oil on the pivot as well so it doesn’t squeak when you’re cranking the handle. After I’m done mixing up my bread dough I rinse my bucket and dry it then I put it on top of the stove while the bread is baking and let the heat completely dry the bucket. I’ve never had any problem with it rusting then.
    Best of luck.

    1. Hi Jeanne, di you think it is safe to use the #4 bread bucket if the scotch Brite pad and soapy water doesn’t remove the etching caused by the rust spots?
      Thank you for your blog and I would appreciate any suggestions!

      1. Hi Joyce, Yes it should be completely safe to use. Make sure you dry it well after using so the spots don’t start rusting again. The rust will be more harmful to the bread bucket than it will be to you!
        Happy baking!

    1. Hi Linda,
      Yes the buckets were originally soldered together. They were also covered in tin. The tin on many is worn away but they are still serviceable.

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