Sunday, 7 June 2009

Steamed Boston Brown Bread

This steamed Boston Brown Bread is very moist and delicious due to the steaming method. Steamed breads are flavorful and ultra moist without being gummy or packed with fat. This particular brown bread is made with rye, corn, and whole wheat. It tastes great warm, sliced into rounds. I like it with cream cheese. Serve it for your next cookout with baked beans. It's wonderful!

Steamed Rye and Maple Brown Bread

The recipe for this bread is from Beth Hensperger, The Pleasure of Whole-Grain Breads.

Makes: two 1-pound loaves


  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons golden rum
  • 1 cup yellow or white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1 cup whole-wheat or graham flour
  • 1 cup medium rye flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs

Plumping the raisins

Combine the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Set it aside and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preparing the pans for baking

In the meantime, generously grease two 1-pound coffee cans, or two 4 or5-cup lidded pudding molds. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

Tip on using coffee cans as molds

I'm not sure if you've ever had this problem, but I've tried several recipes using coffee cans and the bread always got stuck in the pan because of the ledge at the top. I finally figured out how to get the bread to come out in one piece. I cut the bottom off using a can opener and let the bottom fall to the top and rest on the ledge. So, the bottom became the top and vice versa. Now, the bread should come out very easily. Not sure why it took me 3 tries to figure this out, but they do say that the 3rd time is the charm.

Mixing the Batter

Combine the cornmeal, whole-wheat, rye, and all-purpose flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs. Stir with a whisk until the liquid ingredients are combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and add the raisins and rum. Stir well until evenly moistened.

Preparing to bake

Fill each prepared can or mold no more than two-thirds full.

Steaming the bread

Cover tightly with a lid or with aluminum foil held with thick rubber bands. Place on a rack in a deep pot and add boiling water to reach 1 to 2 inches up the sides of the cans or molds. (I used trivets for my rack. They did just fine)

Cover and adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer. Steam for 2 hours, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Add more boiling water during the steaming if too much has evaporated.

I peaked in to see if it needed more water and the tops had already popped off.

It's been 2 hours and the loaves are finished steaming.

Bake the breads for 5 minutes

About 20 minutes before the bread finished steaming; preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
Uncover the breads and place in the oven for no more than 5 minutes to dry slightly.

Cooling the breads

Remove from the cans or molds and cool the loaves on their sides on a rack.

Eating the breads!

Now, it's time to do the taste test!

This bread was so good, I ate some for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I spread cream cheese on it. So good. Then, I had to go for a run because I ate so many calories!

I brought this bread for a cookout on Sunday along with some homemade baked beans that had been simmering in the crock pot all day. Oh boy! It was a big hit!

Storing the bread

This bread only last a few days before it starts getting moldy. You either need to eat it quickly or freeze it. We ate the first loaf pretty quickly, then I froze the second one. I sliced it before wrapping it up so I can sneak a slice every now and then.

Happy Baking!

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