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Boston brown bread recipe

Boston brown bread recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Cake
  • Loaf cake
  • Fruit loaf

Being steamed rather than baked, this mixed-grain bread has a soft crust and close texture. It was created by American settlers in the days before most homes had ovens.

Be the first to make this!

IngredientsServes: 12

  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 225 g (8 oz) rye flour
  • 225 g (8 oz) cornmeal or polenta
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 g (7 oz) raisins
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) blackstrap molasses
  • 600 ml (1 pint) buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:2hr15min ›Ready in:2hr45min

  1. To make this bread, you need a tall cylindrical tin with a solid base, or a clean, empty coffee can about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter and at least 18 cm (7 in) tall. It should have a capacity of at least 2.2 litres (4 pints). If using a coffee can, you may find the top has a lip, which would make it difficult to remove the bread after cooking. Either cut it off with a sharp tin opener; or cut off the base, cover the sharp edges with masking tape, and use the lidded end as the base. Lightly grease your tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  2. Put the wholemeal and rye flours, cornmeal, salt, bicarbonate of soda and raisins in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, and make a well in the centre.
  3. Combine the molasses, buttermilk and milk in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until barely warm. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and quickly stir together. Spoon into the prepared tin. Cover the top of the tin with a pleated piece of oiled greaseproof paper, then with a pleated piece of foil, and tie them on tightly with string.
  4. Place the tin on a trivet in a large pan and pour in enough boiling water to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the tin. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid (if you don’t have a pan that is deep enough, use a dome of foil to cover the pan instead of a lid). Steam for 2 1/4 hours – the water should be just bubbling very gently. Check from time to time, and top up with more boiling water if needed.
  5. Remove the tin from the water and allow the bread to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To serve, cut across into rounds, then cut each round into halves or quarters, if liked. The bread can be kept, wrapped in greaseproof paper and then in foil, in a cool place for up to 4 days.

Each slice provides

B6 * B1, B2, niacin, copper, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc

Plus points

Blackstrap molasses is the most nutritious type of molasses. A by-product of sugar refining, it contains iron, calcium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc. * Rye is an important cereal crop in parts of Central Europe, such as Russia and Germany, and in Scandinavia, and is the basis for those countries’ traditional breads. Nutritious rye flour offers B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, copper, zinc and fibre.

Another idea

Make Chicago pumpernickel bread, also known as black bread (the recipe was taken from Germany to America’s Mid-West in the 19th century). You need 2 clean, empty 400 g fruit cans. Grease the cans and line the bottom with baking parchment. Mix together 55 g (2 oz) plain flour, 55 g (2 oz) rye flour, 55 g (2 oz) fine semolina, ¼ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp ground mixed spice. Gently warm 4 tbsp blackstrap molasses with 240 ml (8 fl oz) buttermilk until combined. Add to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture between the cans, then cover and steam for 2 hours.

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Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread

Have you ever heard of or tried Boston brown bread? It’s a classic New England staple that doesn’t seem to have caught on in other regions, but really everyone should know about it. What it is is a moist, sweetened brown bread that’s chock-full of raisins, that’s got a rich, molasses flavor. The real trick here though is how it’s baked. While you could easily throw this in a loaf pan, the traditional recipe is baked or steamed in a can – while traditionally made in baked beans cans, any old (but clean) can will do.

So let’s get into what makes this bread special, shall we? Do get that nice, deep color (and flavor!) we use a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Other recipes incorporate rye flour, but we decided to keep ours simple. To the flour we also add molasses and buttermilk. Molasses adds to the darkness and amps up the flavor, the buttermilk keeps things light and moist, and prevents the bread from becoming too heavy or dense. Finally, we mix in some (plumped up, rehydrated) raisins for that added pop of sweetness.

This bread is so good, and it’s got the perfect balance of sweetness. Traditionally, it was served along side hot dogs or baked beans, but we like it in the morning or afternoon with a generous swipe of butter or cream cheese. (Pro tip: warm it up first so your topping of choice is able to melt into the bread a bit.) Whether you serve it the classic way, or you make a batch to grab-and-go as needed throughout your busy day, try out this staple and see if you don’t just end up loving it.

All Stirred Up

The book is All Stirred Up by Laura Kumin, which traces the Suffrage Movement with accompanying recipe sections. The history of the Suffrage Movement is fascinating, as are the recipes.

Laura not only provides a fabulous history of the Suffrage Movement, but also adapts historic recipes from that era so we can make them today in our own kitchens. After all, there are challenges in following recipes written 100 years ago.

In truth, I love looking at recipes from earlier eras to see how our tastes have changed. Well, that, and to see how our measurements and recording recipes has become so much more detailed through the years.

Because, those of us who create recipes want home cooks to be able to make our recipes at home.

Well, Laura solves it all for us with her judicious recipe development techniques. I bow to you, my friend.

For fun, here's the original recipe:

3 cups of Graham flour 1 cup white flour 1 cup Sorgum molasses 2 1/2 cups of sour milk 2 even teaspoons soda 1 large teaspoon salt put equally in 4 large baking powder cans and steam 4 hours. –

-Louise Goring, Progressive Household Club

Laura does a fabulous job in the book, but there are a few further adjustments to this Boston Brown Bread recipe for you high altitude cooks and bakers out there. Because, as we all know, we are Ginger Rogers dancing in heels, backwards, up a bunch of stairs, every time we bake.

Why This Boston Brown Bread Recipe Is So Fantastic

Okay, so if you've never had Boston Baked Bread, or New England Brown Bread, before, let me just share how fantastic and unique it is.

This bread is characterized by it's delightfully rich and sweet molasses flavor, paired with whole wheat flour, making a bread that is so very good that you'll find yourself going back for seconds or thirds (and I won't judge you if you even go back for more than that).

It's one of those regionally traditional dishes that you rarely see outside of where it originates from, and that's a true shame because of how incredibly tasty it is.

Now Boston Brown Bread is traditionally made by steaming the bread batter inside of empty tin cans, and many recipes you can find on the internet still follow that time-tested method.

Not only can it be a fairly fiddly task, but it can take a long time to cook it that way. As entertaining as it would be to make this the traditional route, I decide to opt for a less traditional, more efficient method for my Boston Brown Bread Recipe.

My Boston Brown Bread recipe uses a simple bundt pan in place of tin cans and is cooked in, you guessed it, the Instant Pot. The bread is still steamed as it would be traditionally, but in a fraction of the time! And when I say that it's a quick method to make Boston Brown Bread, I mean quick.

The bread is seriously done cooking in the Instant Pot after just 30 minutes. This leaves you more time to do the more important things in life.

How To Make This Boston Brown Bread Recipe

  1. Grease a 6-cup bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, buttermilk, molasses, and sugar.
  3. Stir in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, allspice, walnuts, and raisins.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover the pan with foil.
  5. Add 1.5 cups of water in the Instant Pot. Place a steamer rack in the pot. Place the pan on the rack.
  6. Close the lid and set the Instant Pot to cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 30 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, allow the pot to rest undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  7. Open the lid and carefully remove the pan. Allow the pan to cook a little. Run a knife along the edge of the pan, and then unmold the bread. Slice and serve.

Tips And Tricks For Making This Boston Brown Bread Recipe

  • It's absolutely imperative that you grease the bundt pan before cooking this Boston Brown Bread unless you're a fan of eating your bread in shredded form. That's what it's going to take to get the bread out of the pan at that point.
  • When you take the bundt pan out of the Instant Pot, make sure to let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. The residual heat will further cook the bread. The bread is much easier to remove from the pan when it has had a little time to cool.
  • Try spreading a little cream cheese on the brown bread! The tang and creaminess of the cream cheese help balance out the rich sweetness of the molasses.

What Can I Make With Boston Brown Bread?

  • If you're making this Boston Brown Bread Recipe, you absolutely must have it with my Boston Baked Beans Recipe at some point! They're practically made for each other, and it's easily the most common pairing for this dish.
  • So you're making some Boston Baked Beans? You might as well make some delightfully sweet and tangy Pressure Cooker Ribs and make it a full meal!
  • If you're looking for a less traditional pairing, the tang of my Cranberry Chutney adds a delicious contrast to the sweetness of my Boston Brown Bread recipe!

Whether you grew up eating canned brown bread or it's your first time hearing of it, you're sure to enjoy this delightfully sweet Boston Brown Bread Recipe! Make sure to share this recipe with your friends on Pinterest and Facebook so they can enjoy it too!

★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below! Just click on the stars in the recipe card to rate. Don't forget to pin this recipe for later!

Ingredients in Brown Bread

  • Cornmeal &ndash I prefer stone ground because it has a great texture.
  • Rye Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Kosher Salt
  • Maple Syrup &ndash can be omitted if you like, or substituted with another sweetener like sugar, brown sugar, or honey.
  • Molasses
  • Whole Milk &ndash this can be substituted with plant-based milk, buttermilk, or low-fat milk.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Raisins &ndash these are optional. You can also use currants or another dried fruit. I used a mix of dark and golden raisins.

For a rye bread to share today, I settled on this recipe for Boston Brown Bread from the Epicurious site. It&rsquos a unique bread steamed in a tin can such as a coffee container. Now I&rsquove seen episodes of cooking shows where the contestants are given a mystery ingredient of &ldquobread in a can&rdquo and then challenged to create a tasty dish. I was concerned that baking bread in a can on purpose might not have a great result but I was happily proved wrong.

There were many recipes online and nearly all had the same ratio of one part each of rye flour, whole wheat flour and cornmeal. A quick search for a history lesson taught me that rye and cornmeal were more widely available at one point and so bakers came up with this mixture of flours for their breads. Tins were a readily accessible vessel and steaming the dough was a method that home bakers could master.

One challenge for me was finding a coffee tin (or any other tin!) that was made from metal&ndash so many of our goods are stored in sturdy cardboard containers.

A bit of luck and a tin can appeared when my relatives who were visiting from England brought some treats and one was a tall tin of crackers. Unfortunately, I wrongly assumed this was a metal tin and didn&rsquot realize my error until I had my ingredients mixed and ready to go.

I proceeded anyway and had no major failures but I would suggest to wrap the bottom half of such a cardboard container in tin foil first to provide a barrier between the water and the cardboard. It was fun to have this round, cylindrical bread for a change.

You&rsquoll notice in the comments below that a reader mentioned that she uses a large, wide-mouthed mason jar as a baking vessel. Using a canning jar (and not any old glass jar) sounds like a good idea. Canning jars are already made to withstand high heat and should be fine in the oven&rsquos heat.

Recipe Summary

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for cans
  • 1/2 cup graham flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack placed in the lower third. Generously butter one 28-ounce can (or two 15 1/2-ounce cans). Set a kettle of water to a boil.

In a large bowl, whisk together graham and rye flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in sour cream, molasses, and water. Fold in raisins, if using. Pour batter into prepared can.

Place can in a deep pot with a tight-fitting lid (foil may also be used) and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the can. Cover the pot and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours for 28-ounce bread or about 55 minutes for 15 1/2-ounce breads.

Remove can from water and let cool slightly on a wire rack. Turn out bread, shaking can if necessary to loosen. Return to rack to cool completely.


Special Equipment

Step 1

Two empty, clean 11-13-ounce coffee cans

Ingredient Info

Step 2

Rye flour is available at natural foods stores and some supermarkets.


Step 3

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut two 6-inch squares of foil. Coat insides of cans and one side of foil squares with 1 tablespoon butter. Stir milk and next 3 ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is just warmed (do not boil). Whisk whole wheat flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk mixture whisk until smooth. Fold in raisins, if using. Divide batter between cans. Smooth tops.

Step 4

Cover cans with foil, butter side down. Secure foil with kitchen twine. Place cans foil side up in a deep roasting pan or a heavy shallow pot. Transfer pan to oven. Pour very hot water into pan to come about 3-inch up sides of cans.

Step 5

Bake until a skewer inserted through foil into the center of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of cans. Invert to release loaves onto rack. Let cool completely.

Step 6

DO AHEAD: Bread can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic store at room temperature.

Boston Brown Bread

5 oz. whole wheat flour
5 oz. rye flour
5 oz. cornmeal
1 tsp. Clabber Girl Baking Powder
1 tsp. Clabber Girl Baking Soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. Blackstrap molasses
8 oz. butter milk
8 oz. Rex French Roast Coffee, room temperature

8-10 cups water
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Bring 8-10 cups of water to a boil over medium high heat. While the water is coming to a boil, add all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. In a small mixing bowl, add the molasses and Rex Coffee and whisk together.

Create a small well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and molasses-coffee mixture and whisk to completely combine the batter.

Spray the insides of two quart-sized cans with cooking spray. Divide the batter evenly between the two cans. Using aluminum foil, cover the tops of the cans, folding the excess over the outsides of the cans. Use butchers twine to tie around the edges of the can to secure the aluminum foil to the sides. Place cans in Dutch oven or an oven safe pot.

Carefully pour in the boiling water, taking care not to pour the water over the tops of the covered cans, until the water reaches halfway up the side of the can. Bake in a 325 degrees F. oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean.

Remove pot from oven, and using oven mitts carefully removed cans from pot and set on a cookie rack. Let cool 15-20 minutes and then gently slide bread out of can to cool completely. Once cool, slice bread and toast and serve with butter or cream cheese.

Boston brown bread recipe - Recipes

Use a trivet or rack to keep the bread away from the bottom of the pot. You can use crumpled foil, but round racks in all sizes are available in cake decorating departments in hobby and kitchen stores. Always remove bread from the mold while still warm. Some folks dry the steamed loaves in the oven for 15 minutes after steaming.

On the stove top, Place on trivet in deep kettle. Add enough boiling water to the kettle to come half way up sides of mold cover kettle. Steam 3 1/2 hr.,- test with a skewer. The middle will be moist but NOT sticky when done.

In the crockpot, place cans on trivet or metal rack in bottom of slow cooker and pour about 2 cups of hot water around cans Come 1/2`up the side of the mold). Cover pot and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, using the longer time for a single deeper mold. Remove cans from pot and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Turn bread out on cooling rack while it is still warm.

To use a pressure cooker, put a rack in the bottom, add the mold, pour hat water up the side, then lock. Bring to heat, cook 45 minutes. Cool cooker under running water, open. Remove immediately, dry in the oven about 15 minutes, then cool 5-10 minutes and remove.

To bake in the regular oven, use a recipe that has some eggs or fat to make up for the moisture lost by not steaming. Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a loaf pan, 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 3/4 inches. Bake 1 1/2 hours, covering with foil the last 20 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

Boston Brown Bread

1 cup unsifted whole wheat flour
1 cup unsifted rye flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Kal nutritional yeast OPTIONAL
3/4 cup molasses (I use honey, sorghum syrup, molasses or blend)
2 cups buttermilk (See NOTE below)
1/2 cup raisins, currants, dried bluebarries or cranberries moistened and drained OPTIONAL

Mix and sift dry ingredients, sprinkle in the fruit. Mix molasses and milk. Stir wet and dry until well mixed, spread in the buttered mold and smooth the top.

You can substitute 1 or 2 beaten eggs or some soft butter or oil for part of the buttermilk if you keep the total volume at 2 cups. Not traditional, but a nice variation. I have also used part applesauce for 1/4 of the liquid.

Apricot Nut or Date Nut Bread, Steamed

Chop the apricots or dates and walnuts fine, dust with a little of the flour, set aside. Mix remaining flour, mace, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together. Beat together milk, eggs, orange peel or ginger, and oil. Add to flour mixture alternating with whole wheat flour. Mix well. Fold in apricots or dates and walnuts. Mix well. Divide mixture evenly into two well greased and floured 1 lb coffee cans, cover tightly with foil. Place into large crockpot, set on high, pour in 3 cups hot water, cover with lid and steam on high for 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours. Don't peek before 2 hours.

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