Boston Brown Bread
(American steamed wholegrain molasses bread)
What goes best with Boston baked beans? Why, Boston brown bread, of course! Lightly sweet, with a deep, rich color, brown bread is a scrumptious, whole-grain treat made from a batter that is steamed, sliced and spread with butter or cream cheese. Most New Englanders are familiar with a version that is sold in cans, but it's so easy to throw together, there's no reason not to make your own.
Brown bread was traditionally steamed in empty 1-pound coffee cans. But as these seem to be a thing of the past, use any large, empty food can you have. Or use a more decorative steamed pudding mold. You can even steam it in small loaf pans if you have a pot large enough to hold them.
1 loaf, or about 4 to 6 servings
- Cornmeal -- 1/2 cup
- Whole wheat flour -- 1/2 cup
- Rye flour - 1/2 cup
- Baking soda -- 1 teaspoon
- Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
- Buttermilk, or sour milk (see notes) -- 1 cup
- Molasses -- 1/3 cup
- Raisins (optional) -- 1/4 cup
- Grease a 1-quart coffee or vegetable can or a steamed pudding mold. Mix the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
- Whisk the buttermilk or sour milk and molasses together in another bowl, and then stir into the dry ingredients until well blended. Stir the raisins into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the greased can or mold until it is filled about 2/3 full. Cover tightly with greased aluminum foil for a can or a greased lid for a mold. Place on a rack in a pot large enough to hold the can or mold and add about 1 inch of water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat on the stove. Cover the pot tightly with a lid and reduce heat to low. Steam for 2 or 3 hours, adding extra water as needed, until the bread is cooked through and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the pot and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding. Serve slices of brown bread warm and slathered with butter.
Boston Brown Bread Variations
- Sour Milk: To make your own sour milk, mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and enough milk to make 1 cup and set aside for 5 minutes.
- If you don't have rye flour, just use 2 cups of whole wheat flour instead.
- Substitute maple syrup for the molasses.
- Add a nice pinch of ground cinnamon, cloves or allspice to the batter for added flavor.