Of all the things that come canned (fruit, sardines, veggies, spam), nothing is more unusual than opening up an aluminum can and finding a loaf of bread. Boston Brown Bread has been a staple in New England since Colonial America, however for some that grew up in the Northern States, it's more than just a silly item you run into at the grocery store; it's a nostalgic childhood treat.

Boston Brown Bread in the New World

Everything changed when the Pilgrims landed on the Eastern shores of the U.S. Not only did they have to build an entirely new world from scratch, they realized that what they grew in England wasn't growing as well in their newly established home. Most European households lived off thirded bread, bread which combined whole wheat flour, rye flour, and oats to keep the cost of wheat down.

The colonists quickly learned that wheat was harder to grow, so took to planting rye side-by-side the wheat to help it grow. This was a practice they had never used before and proved to be a failsafe in case one of the crops failed.

Then there was maize. New to the colonists, they learned that corn grew rapidly in their new environment. They combined all three flours: whole wheat flour, rye flour, and cornmeal (along with molasses and rum) to create their own thirded bread. This was then either cooked in the hearth or placed it in a pot of boiling water to bake it into a steamed pudding.

B & M and Brown Bread

 

Established in 1867 by New Englanders George Burnham and Charles S. Morrill, B&M started out by selling canned meats, vegetables, and fish including canned roast beef, mutton, pork, lamb, roast chicken, lobster, and herring. Then in the 1920s, the company began experimenting with brick-oven Boston baked beans and Boston brown bread to increase business. Both items took off successfully and the company still stands to this day.

How To Make Boston Brown Bread

Grease a 1-pound coffee can or vegetable tin. You can also use a pudding mold if you cannot find a metal tin can. Prep your stovetop by setting a wire rack inside of a large stockpot. Fill the pot with enough water to come up about 1/3 of the coffee tin. Turn the heat to medium as you prepare the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl combine all-purpose flour, rye flour, finely ground cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. In another bowl combine the buttermilk and molasses. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon.

Pour batter into the can, making sure it is only 2/3 of the way up the can. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and place the can on the steamer rack, making sure the hot water comes up 1/3 up the can. Cover the pot and turn the heat to high. Steam for about 2 hours 15 minutes.

Before removing the quickbread from the pot, test to see if the bread is cooked through by inserting a skewer or toothpick into the bread. If it comes out clean, remove the can from the pot and place on a cooling rack. If the toothpick comes back dirty, cover the bread and cook an additional 45 minutes.

Let the bread cool for at least an hour before removing from the tin. Serve with Boston baked beans and hot dogs.

Watch: The Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts

oembed rumble video here

Boston Brown Bread 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 2-3 hours

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

Grease a 1-pound coffee can or vegetable tin. You can also use a pudding mold if you cannot find a metal tin can. Prep your stovetop by setting a wire rack inside of a large stockpot. Fill the pot with enough water to come up about 1/3 of the coffee tin. Turn the heat to medium as you prepare the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl combine all-purpose flour, rye flour, finely ground cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. In another bowl combine the buttermilk and molasses. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon.

Pour batter into the can, making sure it is only 2/3 of the way up the can. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and place the can on the steamer rack, making sure the hot water comes up 1/3 up the can. Cover the pot and turn the heat to high. Steam for about 2 hours 15 minutes.

Before removing the quickbread from the pot, test to see if the bread is cooked through by inserting a skewer or toothpick into the bread. If it comes out clean, remove the can from the pot and place on a cooling rack. If the toothpick comes back dirty, cover the bread and cook an additional 45 minutes.

Let the bread cool for at least an hour before removing from the tin. Serve with Boston baked beans and hot dogs.

Nutrition Facts
Boston Brown Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 294 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0.5g 3%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.04g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2g
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 349mg 15%
Potassium 509mg 15%
Total Carbohydrates 67g 22%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 18g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 14%
Iron 17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.