Boston Brown Bread

NadiaBoston Brown Bread seems to have originated in Colonial New England, when their food resources dictated the most readily available ingredients and their creativity did the rest.

Boston Brown Bread Arturo

Our 10 year old taste tester gave my Boston Brown Bread the thumbs up!

Due to the limited availability of wheat, this bread was made with a mixture of rye flour, cornmeal, and wheat flour. Buttermilk and molasses are the additional ingredients in the most common recipes, creating a flavorful, savory taste. Boston Brown Bread is traditionally served warm and is a perfect accompaniment to baked beans on a cold winter day.

Because ovens were not commonplace in most households at that time, making bread by steaming it in a pot over an open flame was customary. Unlike oven baking that tends to dry, steaming this quick bread keeps it wonderfully moist, as it only cooks at water’s boiling point (212°F, or approximately 203°F for higher altitudes). This method helps to keep the bread from overcooking.

A tin coffee can is the container most often used to make this bread. The batter is poured into a greased can, then covered tightly with tin foil and placed in a covered pot of boiling water to cook for roughly an hour and half.

Boston Brown Bread 5920Here at Fante’s we have been asked repeatedly for a Stainless Steel container to replace worn tin cans, which seem to be harder to find these days due to the fact that more coffee is being packaged in plastic or paper containers. In our search, we came across this stainless steel Bain Marie Insert which we found to be the perfect size, comparable to a coffee can. It also has a protruding rim which allows for the tin foil to be tucked tightly underneath.

I used a slightly larger size pan, just before we got hold of the proper size.
~ Nadia ~


Fannie Farmer’s Boston Brown Bread Recipe

1 cup rye meal
1 cup granulated corn meal
1 cup Graham flour
2 cups sour milk, or 1-3/4 cups sweet milk or water
3/4 tablespoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup molasses

Mix and sift dry ingredients, add molasses and milk, stir until well mixed, turn into a well-buttered mould, and steam three and one-half hours.
The cover should be buttered before being placed on mould, and then tied down with string; otherwise the bread in rising might force off cover.
Mould should never be filled more than two-thirds full.
A melon-mould or one-pound baking-powder boxes make the most attractive-shaped loaves, but a five-pound lard pail answers the purpose.
For steaming, place mould on a trivet in kettle containing boiling water, allowing water to come half-way up around mould, cover closely, and steam, adding, as needed, more boiling water.

1 Comment

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One response to “Boston Brown Bread

  1. Rhonda J. Hunter

    I remember my mother making Boston brown bread. She didn’t have coffee cans, so she used 16oz soup cans. They turned out like individual loaves. Her recipe came out of an old Meta Givens cook book, and came out a darker color than the one shown here. It looked almost like a chocolate brownie, but slightly paler. It may have used more molasses than your recipe. I know she got creative one time, and added either walnuts or pecans to the mix – was that ever good! You notice I said she used 16oz cans – how things have changed!

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