Boston Brown Bread

I have a fondness for Colonial New England cooking being that I am a born and breed Yankee from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   Although my mom was a second generation Italian and my father was a second generation French Canadian, my parents also cooked New England style foods. The traditional Saturday Nights Supper in New England was homemade bake beans, hot dogs and brown bread.  That was the meal in almost every home in New England on Saturday night.

Most of  New England  cooking  style has a Native American influence.  A lot of molasses, corn, maple syrup, pumpkin, squash, shell beans, cranberries, blueberries, and wild strawberries, nuts, fish, shell fish, salt pork, bacon, venison, turkey and other game was a big part of New England’s regional cuisine.

Blah, blah, blah.

Hey! Why are you boring us with the history lesson?

Just get on with the post!

For supper we had beans and hot dogs and I made Boston Brown Bread. This is made with or without raisins. I opted to make it without raisins.

Is this going to take long?

Boston Brown Bread
Into The Kettle It Goes
Boston Brown Bread
After It Is Steam Cooked
brown bread
Ready For The Table

Boston Brown Bread

Note: You will be using 3 empty 1 lb. vegetable cans. Wash them in hot soapy water and rinse well.  Dry, completely, by hand.  I planned in advance before deciding to make this bread. You will also need a rack that will fit into the bottom of a large pan making sure the pan has a cover that fits tightly.

1 cup rye flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup seedless raisins (optional)

  • Spray your three empty cans inside thoroughly with cooking spray. Cut rounds of aluminum foil or waxed paper the size of the can bottom, then place these rounds in bottom of each can and with cooking spray, spray the foil or waxed paper.
  • Into a med-large mixing bowl, mix together the buttermilk, molasses and melted butter.
  • Into another mixing bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients.
  • Blend the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture then stir in raisins.
  • Fill cans 2/3 full and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place on rack in large covered kettle and add boiling water to reach halfway up side of cans.
  • Cover kettle tightly and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Remove the 3 breads from kettle and let cool for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the cans.

Cut into slices and serve warm with butter. Also taste good when buttered on each side then toasted in a fry pan or griddle.

Don’t store the bread in the cans.  Dispose of the cans after removing the bread.

5 thoughts on “Boston Brown Bread

  1. Hi Liz, I love hearing about your parents & life in New England. Boston brown bread looks so delicious. Your sprinkler is so pretty, it must be nice to have it on. I hope your week is starting well, hugs


  2. What about the coating on the inside of the cans? I know you’re not supposed to store the contents in a can after it’s been opened, because the inner coating is harmful if it breaks down. Do you have a trick? Or did you actually find ‘tin’ cans that aren’t aluminium? I love the idea of baking in tin cans (the loaves look so cool!) but I am a bit paranoid.



    1. I have been doing some research on re-using cans to steam this bread. Every cookbook that I have refers to using cans. I also did an internet research and found that 1lb. metal coffee cans are also used. I would imagine a coffee can would not have to be washed before using it. When I use a vegetable can, I wash it and then thoroughly dry it immediately, inside and out, to prevent the can from rusting. Then after I wash and dry the cans, I air dry them with the opening facing up.
      Epicurious has a Boston Brown Bread recipe that uses a pudding mold or a coffee can.

      I should also note that white flour can be substituted for the Rye flour.


  3. Hi Liz: My mother often served baked beans and brown bread on Saturdays.. I make it often in the winter. I don’t much in the summer as min bakes8 or more hours and I don’t want the oven on that long in the heat. It’s one of my fave meals.
    Have a great day. Hugs


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