Mini Loaves of Boston Brown Bread Steamed in a Can
In a previous post I shared my experience of steaming a loaf of classic steamed Boston Brown Bread in a can – one of my most memorable Yankee kitchen adventures to date. The sweet and hearty loaf was like nothing I had ever tasted, thanks to the unique and rustic combination of molasses mixed with rye flour, whole-wheat flour, and cornmeal.
I knew Boston Brown Bread was supposed to be eaten with baked beans for Sunday supper, but before I could try that, I enjoyed the whole of my first loaf as a series of breakfast treats, slathered with butter and jam. Oops!
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
It was only a matter of time before I made another loaf.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I was eating a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich at Timoleon’s Neighborhood Restaurant in downtown Keene, NH. As I ate, I heard the gentleman at the next booth order a special off the menu — a plate of Boston Brown Bread, served with “beans and frankfurters.”
I was immediately curious about what his plate was going to look like, and when it finally emerged from the kitchen, it did not disappoint. Thick rounds of grainy brown bread were arranged like medallions, and topped with generous scoops of baked beans. Two hot dogs spooned the bread and beans like a pair of commas.
I nudged my friends and whispered, “Look at that perfect plate of New England food!” – and I knew I would soon have to recreate the dish at home, modifying it first to suit my vegetarian diet.
The opportunity finally came this past weekend, when I decided to try steaming four smaller loaves of brown bread instead of one large loaf, so I could freeze two for later. Not only is this practical, it also helps since smaller 15.5 oz. tin cans are a lot easier to come by these days than their 2-quart counterparts.
The batter came together quickly, but this time I spooned it into four 15.5 oz. greased cans, which were then covered with greased aluminum foil and secured in the traditional fashion.
Note to self — I really need to invest in some sturdy string instead of always resorting to yarn!
The last time I steamed brown bread, I used a few small cans (like the kind tuna fish comes in) to rest the batter-filled cans on to keep them off the bottom of the pot, but this time I used the rings from my large stash of empty mason jars. They worked perfectly.
Two steamy hours later, the loaves were done and ready to come out of their aluminum hiding spots.
Then I was finally able to recreate the dish I had been dreaming of. I heated up some vegetarian baked beans (doctored with a little maple syrup), pan-fried a few veggie dogs, and added them to a few slices of perfect brown bread.
Hello Sunday supper! It might have been only 1 part tradition to 2 parts modern, but sometimes that’s the best we can do, and it was certainly good enough for me.
View and print the original recipe for Granny’s Brown Bread.
View my original Brown Bread steaming adventure and learn more about the history of this unique New England dish!