New England Recipes: Traditional Boston Brown Bread

Many New England recipes and cooking techniques were learned from the Native Americans. One such cooking method was steaming – the way traditional, old-fashioned Boston Brown Bread is prepared. The best way to cook this bread is in one-pound coffee cans. This recipe will make four round loaves, so you’ll need four metal cans. When the bread is done but still warm, spread it with cream cheese or butter.

Holle’s Boston Brown Bread recipe

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup rye flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions: Sift together white flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Blend in cornmeal, rye flour, and whole-wheat flour.

Add remaining ingredients and stir well.

Grease and flour the four cans and fill with the batter. Cover cans with foil and tie strings around the foil tops to keep them in place and tight.

Place the cans in a deep pan. Add enough boiling water to the pan to cover the bottom half of the cans.

Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. At this time, check the water level in the pan. If you need to add more boiling water, do so. Continue baking for about another hour. A straw inserted into the center of the bread will come out clean when the loaves are done.

Remove from oven, uncover cans, and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour or so before removing bread from the cans.

Boston brown bread photo by Kristen Taylor