Steamed Boston brown bread is traditionally made with a combination of cornmeal, rye, and whole wheat or graham flours. It’s a classic accompaniment to franks and beans, but it’s also great toasted and slathered with butter. This foraged version uses acorn flour and it’s even better than the traditional recipe: moist, rich, and dense.
Traditionally, the bread is steamed in a baked bean can, but it works just as well in a canning jar. Just be sure you use a wide mouth jar. The “shoulders” on standard jars will prevent you from sliding the finished loaf out of the jar. This recipe makes two small-ish loaves.
What you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup cold-leached acorn flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup butter milk
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/8 cup dark molasses
- 1 cup chopped raisins
Combine all the ingredients and mix well, then scoop the batter into two, 16-oz., well-greased baked bean cans. The batter will look thin, but that’s ok. Fill the containers three quarters full, then cover with aluminum foil and secure the foil with a rubber band.
This isn’t a bread you bake in the oven. You’re going to cook it in a boiling water bath for 2 hours, which makes the bread especially moist. Choose a large pot with a cover and add three or four inches of water. (If you’re using glass jars, place a folded dishtowel in the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from cracking.) Add the filled cans or jars, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Check periodically to make sure there’s still water in the pot and if necessary, add more water as you go along. If you don’t have a big enough pot, place your batter-filled cans in a deep roasting pan and fill the pan halfway with boiling water. Put the pan in a pre-heated, 325F oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Check during the baking process to make sure at least an inch of water remains in the roasting pan.
Remove the cans from the boiling water, let them cool for ten minutes, then slide the bread out onto a plate or cutting board to finish cooling. (Yes, it really will slide out.) Let the bread cool for about a half hour, then slice it, toast it lightly, and skim it with butter. So good.