Friday, November 23, 2012

Boston Brown Bread

Yesterday, before my oven went on the fritz (yes, it did!!), I baked one of the breads that I was serving for our Thanksgiving dinner--Boston Brown Bread.  I thought it would go perfect with the Roasted Corn Chowder I was making and it gave me a sense of where the first thankful feast began.

This bread, which began with the Puritans has rye flour, that could be grown with relative ease in the cold climate, and corn (maize) which was a gift from the Native Americans.  In addition to wheat and some all-purpose flour, this moist brown bread is steamed in cylinder 1-pound cans, which was the hardest thing to find.  I'm not a coffee drinker, but it is the 1-pound size can you need;  good luck finding it!  I bought two cans, only to discover when I tried to remove the labels, the sides were cardboard, not metal.  The only thing I could come close to was the 29-ounce can of canned pumpkin, which I had just used two for my pumpkin butter that I just made.  I was even ambitious enough to grind my own wheat and cornmeal, which proved easier than finding the cans I needed:-D





Boston Brown Bread (adapted from Bon Appetit magazine-Nov.2012)

3 T unsalted butter, melted
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 T baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup raisins (optional); I used 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Brush 1-pound coffee cans (or a can that will hold 1 qt. liquid=4cups) with melted butter.  Cut a circle from wax paper or parchment and place in the bottom of the can.  Brush the circle with additional butter.
In a small sauce pan, heat the milk, molasses, brown sugar and salt just until warmed (do not boil).  In a large bowl, measure out all the dry ingredients and use a dough whisk to combine.
Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Add raisins (or cranberries) if using.  If you were lucky to find 1-pound coffee cans, divide the batter between the two cans.  Since I used the pumpkin puree cans and they didn't hold quite 4 cups of liquid, I divided the batter between 3 cans and lowered the amount of time needed to steam from 1 1/2 hours to 1 hour.  The batter should not exceed coming up two-thirds of the way up.

With the remaining melted butter, brush 2 (or 3) 6-inch squares of foil, doubled and place over top of the cans, butter-side down.  Press around the edges to seal, then secure with kitchen twine or I used my silicon bands to hold in place.

 Place cans in a Dutch oven and pour boiling water around them, to come about 3-inches up sides of the cans.
Here's where the recipe takes a turn--usually Boston Brown Bread is steamed on top of the stove, but this recipe called for baking it in the oven!  For the 1-pound cans, 1 1/2 hours; anything smaller 1 hour or less.

Bake until a skewer inserted through the foil in the center of each loaf comes out clean.  Transfer loaves to a rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges and invert to release loaves (the wax paper/parchment circle helps it to slide out easily.)
Let cool completely.  Bread can be made up to 3 days ahead and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.  Slice bread and serve with soft butter...or pumpkin butter, as I had mine this morning.
 Now begins the Christmas season, but first I have to deal with an oven!  Enjoy!

29 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a beautiful bread!!! Hope you had a happy stoveless Thanksgiving. :)

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    1. Stressful, but somehow it got done!

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  2. Oh my, Susan! My mom used to buy the brown bread in the can at the commissary and that was the only way I knew about this bread. We only could have one can for the whole family so that we all got a piece. And, guess what, my friend? I just so happen to have a few of the one pound coffee cans. Yup, I mix the New Orleans coffee with chickory with regular coffee...Now, I know what to do with them! This looks so good and moist, and that pumpkin butter...WOW! Happy belated Thanksgiving, my dear friend! Lv, me

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    1. I need to make a trip down your way for tin cans--It's probably a secret only known to coffee drinkers where to find them LOL! It certainly was worth all the effort to figure a way to make this and tasted so good with the chowder. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving too! XOXO

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  3. Wow, you brought back some memories Susan! I think I have had this brown bread in the can years ago. Loooong time ago! When I started to read your blog post, I thought, this sounds familiar. I think my mom used to buy it. Had to be back in the 60's. Very interesting.

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    1. We had it a lot when we lived in New England; I think the first time was at The Longfellow's Inn in Sudbury, MA. I just love it and will make it again, for sure.

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  4. You have me at pumpkin butter! Love the idea of using empty tins to bake these loaves.

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    1. I made 8 jars the day before Thanksgiving so I could send some to my grandson--he's a little pumpkin like his mama was:-D

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  5. Oh dear Susan, sorry to hear about your oven! I hope it can be repaired quickly! Your Boston brown bread looks delicious! Don't you just love the shrinking sizes of our grocery items! I remember making this bread years ago--I need to do that again soon--Great Christmas gift along with your pumpkin butter! xoxo ♥
    Martha Ellen

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    1. The pumpkin butter is my favorite thing to make for friends and family...and so easy. The bread was worth all the trouble trying to find a can large enough to hold the batter. I'm exhausted today and will worry about the oven next week!

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  6. I would have been devastated if my oven went out on Thanksgiving! It sounds like you managed OK. The brown bread recipe sounds like a lot of work but I suppose if you have all the "tools" it's not so bad.

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    1. The grinding of the grain was my extra step because it was my anniversary present for my Kitchen Aid and I was acting out my Pioneer Women gene! This really mixes up quite fast and you can buy all the flours and cornmeal to make it easy and save your tin cans:-D

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  7. It's been years since I had any brown bread like that. Sorry your stove in on the fritz. My oven went down, but I think my Mr fixed it!!! hugs, Linda

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    1. My hubby is brilliant, but don't put a tool in his hands!! I'll call a service guy for next week to look at it...or possibly turn it in for one that can take the amount of baking I do:-D XOXO

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  8. I have always wanted to try making brown bread. I love that you ground the rye and corn. Cool! It looks great. I'm afraid most of the coffee I find any more is in plastic not tin.

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    1. You're my heroine on the Prairie...I have to try to stay up with you, XOXO

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  9. I sure hope you get your oven fixed SOON! I know you are anxious to do more holiday baking! When my 4 sons were at home I made most of our bread and I made a rich aromatic bread like this. You know how we ate it sometimes? As milk toast. Toast a thick slice and put it in a bowl and pour warm milk over it...sprinkle cinnamon and add a pat of butter. Oh my! I haven't thought of that in years! Enjoy your weekend! Sweet hugs, Diane

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  10. PS My recipe came out of Mother Earth News. Do you remember that magazine?

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  11. Oh Susan. I used to love brown bread at Howard Johnson's!

    By the way, I DO remember Mother Earth News, Lavender Dreamer.Used to love it.

    I do hope you can get that oven fixed soon! Susan

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  12. I don't think I've ever had Boston Brown Bread, but it looks delicious! I like that it's made in a coffee can, too! :)

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    1. Brown bread was actually handed out to the poor in Ireland in the 1800's--it's very healthy for you, so the joke is on those doing the distribution!! Easy to make too, XOXO

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  13. Hi Susan, I don't think I've ever had brown bread. sounds fun to bake in a can. a shame about your oven. well, have fun looking for a new oven....it's kinda like car shopping so many to choose from but which one to buy.
    hugs stamping sue
    http://stampingsueinconnecticut.blogspot.com/

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    1. I can't believe you've never had it, living in New England, but it is just a wonderful bread...and easy to make. My car is going on 14 years old, so you might guess, I don't like shopping for big purchases, but I also don't like when things act up! This is the third time in almost 11 years that this oven has caused me to panic and I'm thinking it might be one that has a defect and will be a money pit. But the one I would like costs quite a bit and it wasn't something I was planning to have to do before Christmas:-((

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  14. It is a pain to have to deal with a major purchase between Thanksgiving and Christmas--the time and decision making even more than the money, I think. At least Thanksgiving was early this year, so there's that extra little week. Good luck with your oven!
    My dad was from Maine, and we used to have the brown bread in the can frequently. Especially with Boston Baked Beans.

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  15. oh oh, your poor oven, maybe it is pretending, and it really just needs a little vacation. ;)
    this looks delicious susan, and did i hear you say corn chowder?!

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  16. Your oven has terrible timing! Not that anytime would really be good... The bread looks wonderful and I love the shape the cans give the loaves. Have a wonderful week!

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  17. Hi Susan, So sorry to hear about your oven, yikes. The bread looks delicious! Thanks for visiting and your comments. Joyous Wishes, Linda

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