Friday, January 7, 2011

Homemade Boston Brown Bread

Fish was on the menu every Friday night while I was growing up in New England; the middle daughter in a Catholic family. We could count on frozen fish sticks; cod; swordfish; and fried smelt, which was one of my favorites.

Saturday dinners were usually Boston Baked Beans that my mom cooked in the oven all day, which included molasses and a big chunk of Salt Pork. She served them right out of the bean pot, with hot Brown Bread. 
My Mom didn't make the Brown Bread from scratch - it was good old B&M Brown Bread from a can. She'd take the bread out of the can, wrap it in foil and heat it in the oven along with the beans. We'd get a slice slathered with butter which would immediately melt into the fragrant bread. 
This bread is steamed (rather than baked) in an aluminum can. I've had the can for some time and forget which size it is, but it measured 6" high and 4" across. After the batter has been poured into the can, to be sure no water or steam got into the can while it was cooking, I placed a piece of parchment and then foil over the can and secured them with duct tape. To steam the bread, place it in a pot and add water half-way up the can, or you can use a pot with a steamer insert like I did. This bread will take an hour and a half to cook, so be sure to check the water level in the steamer periodically.

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup corn meal
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses
One clean can measuring 6" tall x 4" around

Place raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water and allow to sit for 10 minutes; drain. Combine flours, corn meal, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and whisk together. In separate bowl, combine molasses, buttermilk and raisins then add to dry mixture.

Spray inside of can liberally with cooking spray, turning to coat all surfaces. Pour mixture into can and tap on counter to remove air bubbles. Cut a 6" square of parchment and place it on top of the tin, securing with a rubber band. Cut 3 pieces of foil and place over parchment, wrapping tightly. Secure foil with rubber bands or duct tape. 

Place can in the bottom of a pot and fill half-way on the can with water. Bring to a fast boil and boil on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to steam an additional hour to hour-and-a-half. Add additional water as necessary. Use a long skewer and insert it in the middle of the bread. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. 

Remove can from pan; remove foil and parchment. Turn can over on a cooling rack to remove bread. Spread with butter and serve with Boston Baked Beans.