Saturday, April 7, 2012

Boston Brown Bread

You can't have baked beans, like I had yesterday, without Boston brown bread. My mom used to save coffee cans so we could have fresh brown bread, and I remember how wonderfully moist and fragrant fresh brown bread was right from the can while it was still warm.

You don't have to wait until you have baked beans to enjoy this bread, though. It's very easy; it takes just a few minutes to get the batter together no yeast means that there are no special temperature requirements and no kneading. Then you can steam it in a pot on a back burner and forget about it for 2 -1/4 hours.

See here it's steaming away, almost done:

And fresh from the pot, I can hardly wait to let it cool, but it's necessary.

10 minutes.

I can wait that long.

And look! When you turn it out of the can, it has the "authentic" ridges from the coffee can!

I wish the Internet had smell-o-vision. You have no idea how fragrant this is right now as it is awaits being sliced, still steaming, all plump and moist.

Boston Brown Bread... with a hint of maple

  • Shortening or butter for greasing coffee can
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 allspice berries, crushed, or about 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/8 cup molasses
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins


1 metal coffee can, 6 inches tall by 4 inches in diameter. I used a 10-ounce Café Bustelo can – make sure you remove any paper or plastic wrapper from the outside of the can and wash well to remove any residual adhesive


1. Fill a large stock pot with enough water to come 1/3 of the way up the sides of your coffee can. Set a steamer rack inside the pot, or if you don’t have a steamer rack that will fit inside your stock pot, lay a kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat to medium to get the water simmering.

2. Grease a cleaned-out coffee can with shortening or butter. In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, rye flour, corn meal, baking powder and soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon and raisins.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together the molasses, maple syrup, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until the batter is well-incorporated and smooth, with no lumps.

4. Pour the batter into the greased coffee can.

5. Cover the coffee can tightly with a double thickness of aluminum foil and secure with a rubber band. Set the can in the pot on the steamer rack or towel, cover the stock pot and turn the heat to high.

6. Once the water has come to a boil, reduce heat to low and let the water simmer bread for at least 2 hours and 15 minutes. Check to see if the bread is done bypiking it with a toothpick or cake tester. If it’s clean, the brad is done. Otherwise, cover the pot and keep steaming until done.

7. Once the bread is done, remove the can from the pot and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the container.

8. Slice and eat warm with butter.

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