With all the sweets we’ve been gobbling down (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Marmalade…. yep, it adds up!) we wanted to bring you (and ourselves) something a little more hearty and whole grain. Enter that age old comfort food – steamed Boston brown bread. Perfect as a breakfast treat smeared with cream cheese, or alongside a simple and satisfying pot of beans. There’s something so comforting in the combination of a hearty, slightly sweet bread and a savory bowl of beans or soup!
For this recipe, you can use clean 16 oz cans with just the tops removed, or if you don’t have those sitting around you can use a few wide mouth pint size canning jars. Just be sure to only cover with buttered foil as instructed in the recipe, because this baby expands! We don’t recommend trying to make these in any jars smaller than 16 oz, in our test, the dough got a little too big for it’s britches and then fell over in our pot! But if you follow our instructions, this is a hearty, satisfying whole grain loaf that is perfect for eating along side some bean soup or Boston baked beans.
Boston Brown Bread
yields 3 small loaves
1 cup stone ground cornmeal (5 oz)
1 cup rye flour (3 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (2 3/4 oz)
1/2 cup all purpose flour (2 1/2 oz)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup raisins or currants
3/4 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
2 cups buttermilk
Dutch oven or large pot
Small wire rack, canning rack or clean kitchen towel
3 – 16 oz clean cans, or 3 wide mouth pint canning jars
Butter for greasing the foil and cans or jars
Set up the steaming station: Get a large pot or Dutch oven and place on the stove. Put a round wire rack (canning rack works well) or put a towel in the bottom of it.
Butter three 16 oz clean cans, or 3 wide mouth pint canning jars. Cut three squares of foil, each on large enough to cover the top of a can/jar. Butter the foil and set the foil and jars aside.
Make the dough: Combine all of the dry ingredients and the raisins or currants in a large bowl, add the molasses and buttermilk to the bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Divide the batter between the buttered 16 oz cans or wide mouth pint canning jars, tightly cover the cans or jars with a piece of buttered foil and place in a Dutch oven or stock pot and fill the pot with enough hot water to come halfway up the can or jar. Cover the pot and simmer on low for about 2 hours. Check the water level now and again and maintain the water level halfway up the cans by adding additional boiling water. The bread is done when a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Carefully take the cans out of the water bath and cool 15 minutes on a dry kitchen towel (do not set on a cold counter top, this could cause the canning jar to break). Remove loaves from cans or jars and serve warm or allow to cool completely. The bread will keep a day or two in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Stone ground cornmeal is best as it’s coarse texture really stands out but regular cornmeal will work just fine.
If you do not have buttermilk you can make a substitute by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of milk and letting it stand for 5 minutes. The acid from the lemon will thicken the milk a bit and allow the baking soda to work it’s leavening magic.
I like to pour some hot water over my raisins and let them plump up for about 15 minutes, drain before using.