Boston Brown Bread?

When I was a kid (I am now 60+ year old) My mother would bake bread in empty cans. Some had raisins and walnuts in it and I think she called it (BROWN BREAD). I have tried for years to find the REAL recipe for this childhood favorite! Does anyone have this great original recipe? I bake a lot with my grand children and would love to teach this recipe to them.

Nana Donna

Donna from Zeeland, MI

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April 29, 20080 found this helpful


3 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. raisins
6 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/2 to 1 c. chopped nuts

Combine water and raisins in saucepan. Bring to a low boil. Boil 5 to 10 minutes. Cool. While this is cooling, combine oil, brown sugar, eggs, salt, whole wheat flour, white flour, vanilla and baking soda. Mix in cooled water and raisins, then nuts. Bake in greased soup cans. (May also use
1 pound vegetable cans.) Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Let cool in cans for a moist Boston Brown Bread.

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By Ben Carter (Guest Post)
April 30, 20080 found this helpful

1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing
1 1/2 cups brown-bread flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 cup milk
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins Preparation1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Generously grease a 1-quart pudding mold or 1-pound coffee can. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the molasses and milk. Fold in the currants.

3. Fill the mold or coffee can with batter. It should come up about two-thirds of the way. Cover the top with foil and tie securely with a string to make it airtight.

4. Place in a deep baking pan and fill the pan with boiling water, to come halfway up the side of the mold.

5. Place in the preheated oven and allow to steam for 2 hours, checking the water level after 1 hour. Add more boiling water if needed. Check by sticking a skewer into the bread; it will come out clean when done. Remove string and foil and allow to cool for 1 hour before unmolding.

*A specialty of New England, brown-bread flour is a mixture of whole wheat, rye and cornmeal or johnnycake meal. It can be purchased already mixed or made by simply combining equal parts of wheat and rye flour and cornmeal.

Source InformationJasper White's Cooking from New England
Biscuit Books

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By Nolasandy (Guest Post)
April 30, 20080 found this helpful

These sound good. Do you have to bake this in a can? What size baking pan could you use, and how would you change the recipe for this, if at all?

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May 16, 20080 found this helpful

Please please don't re-use empty cans to cook or heat anything in. Cans nowadays have a toxic plastic material called Bisphenol A (BPA) inside them to keep the metal can from affecting the taste of the food. Unfortunately the BPA is the same as has been used to make baby bottles and many other hard plastic water bottles. BPA has been linked to breast cancer and early puberty in women and when they tested very low doses on mice and rats they found the same plus diabetes, enlarged prostate and prostate cells prone to cancerous changes among the many health problems it can cause. The food that is in these cans is also contaminated by the BPA but then if you reuse the container by cooking or heating anything in them you release up to 50 times more of BPA into the food. Google BPA or check out Wikipedia's BPA page and it will make you not want to eat anything in cans anymore, period. Of course the chemical companies all say that the fears are unjustified just because a few rats and mice get sick doesn't mean anything. Sound like Big Tobacco some 20-30 years ago, huh? My sis-in-law who is a real pessimist says "Oh, well, these days everything is being found to give us cancer so why fight it?" I choose to fight it however and whenever I can, thank you very much.

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April 29, 2008

I am looking for a Boston Brown Bread recipe. My mom use to make one that she baked in tin cans. We loved it. It is a a moist bread and great with butter or cream cheese spread on it.

Liz from New Baden, IL


Boston Brown Bread

My Mom used to make one in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, with molasses and raisins, is that what you are thinking of? At least for the taste? It was amazingly easy and so good! We could hardly wait for it to cool before we'd slather it with butter. Let me know and I can get the recipe from my book, it's really easy. (11/09/2006)

By Michawn

Boston Brown Bread

No molasses in it. Robin I'm pretty sure you hit the nail on the head. Thank you both. (11/10/2006)

By Liz Orr

Boston Brown Bread

You will need 3 10-ounce coffee cans to bake this bread, although it can also be baked in 8X4 loaf pans (but then you will not have the beautiful rounds that make this bread special). The loaves can be frozen for up to 1 month. This recipe is from Massachusetts' infamous baker René Becker of the Hi-Rise Bread Company.

Boston Brown Bread

  • 2 1/3 cups organic rye flour
  • 1 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups organic whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup organic oat flour
  • 3/4 cup coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried currants or raisins(4 ounces)
  • 1 quart milk
  • 3/4 cup molasses

Remove one of your oven racks and preheat oven to 300°.
Generously butter three 10-ounce coffee cans. In an extra large mixing bowl combine all the flours. Stir in cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and dried fruit.

In a separate bowl, whisk the milk with the molasses. Slowly add to the dry ingredients, stirring until the batter is smooth and combined.
Pour the batter into the greased coffee cans. Stand the cans in the center of the oven and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the loaves are springy to the touch. Place cans on wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes, then unmold. Slice bread into rounds and serve.
When the loaves have reached room temperature, they can be wrapped in wax paper and placed in a thick plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Boston Brown Bread

These recipes are from Moody's Diner in Maine.

Mom's brown bread

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups graham flour
  • 3 cups buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 3t. b.soda

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, and mix well Pour batter into greased coffee cans,2/3 full. Cover top with tin foil and steam 3 hours. Makes four 1 lb. loaves.


  • 1 cup graham flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 cups buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1 1/2 t. b. soda

Combine dry ingredients.
add buttermilk and molasses , and mix thouroughly.
Pour batter into 2 well greased 1 lb. coffee cans. Cover with was paper and secure with elastic band. Steam 2 hours. (11/11/2006)

By Joyce

Boston Brown Bread

Robin's Boston Brown Bread is exactly the recipe I have that my mum & Granny made for years. They called it "War Cake" It's really tasty! (03/14/2008)

By Mairmie

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November 9, 2006
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 Tbsp. shortening
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup chopped nutmeats
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


Mix raisins with water. Boil 5 minutes and cool. Add sugar, egg, shortening and salt. Sift and add flour and baking soda. Add nut meats and vanilla. Grease and flour four or five round tin cans. Bake mixture in cans at 350 degrees F for about an hour.

By Robin from Washington, IA

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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