Sunday, September 7, 2008

Boston Brown Bread

This recipe is a homage to the most awesome place to live: Boston! Boston Brown Bread is made by steaming bread batter in cans. It is a fun project, and as a bonus, it's incredibly tasty, too! I imagine an older child would get a kick out of helping to make these, as I (at 29 years old) could not stop giggling over my "can bread." This bread is the perfect accompaniment to baked beans, but also makes a great snack or a bread to sop up any savory stew.

Boston Brown Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Steam time: 90-120 minutes

1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (or 1 cup soy milk + 2 tsp vinegar)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)

Thoroughly clean out your cans of choice. I used two 14.5-oz cans from diced tomatoes; you could also use one bigger can, but the steam time will probably be more on the 2 hour side than the 90 minute side. Fill a pot with enough water to come up about halfway on the cans. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the cans from the water and spray the insides well with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. If you are using apricots and raisins, set aside 2 Tbsp of the dry mix and toss it together with the raisins and apricots in a small bowl (this will help prevent the fruit from clumping together). Whisk together the buttermilk/sour milk/ soy milk + vinegar together with the molasses in a separate bowl; add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until well combined. Gently stir in the flour-coated dried fruits, if using.

Divide the batter between the two cans. Cover them tightly with aluminum foil and set them inside the pot of boiling water. Lower the temperature so the water is simmering, and cover the pot with a lid. Here's what your cans will look like inside the pot:

After about 90 minutes, carefully remove one of the cans from the pot and peel back the aluminum foil. The breads are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Here's what it looks like when you do not divide the batter evenly enough between the two cans (whoops):

Allow the cans to cool for about 10 minutes, and then use a can opener to open the bottom of the can. Gently push the breads out of their cans; slice and serve!

I made one bread without the fruit, and one with. They are both incredibly tasty. Abby had the fruited bread as a snack, and my husband and I will have the non-fruited bread with some beef stew for dinner (technically, Abby will have beef stew as well, but I'll be shocked if she actually eats any of it!).

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