Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread


Have you ever heard of or tried Boston brown bread? It’s a classic New England staple that doesn’t seem to have caught on in other regions, but really everyone should know about it. What it is is a moist, sweetened brown bread that’s chock-full of raisins, that’s got a rich, molasses flavor. The real trick here though is how it’s baked. While you could easily throw this in a loaf pan, the traditional recipe is baked or steamed in a can – while traditionally made in baked beans cans, any old (but clean) can will do.

So let’s get into what makes this bread special, shall we? Do get that nice, deep color (and flavor!) we use a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Other recipes incorporate rye flour, but we decided to keep ours simple. To the flour we also add molasses and buttermilk. Molasses adds to the darkness and amps up the flavor, the buttermilk keeps things light and moist, and prevents the bread from becoming too heavy or dense. Finally, we mix in some (plumped up, rehydrated) raisins for that added pop of sweetness.

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This bread is so good, and it’s got the perfect balance of sweetness. Traditionally, it was served along side hot dogs or baked beans, but we like it in the morning or afternoon with a generous swipe of butter or cream cheese. (Pro tip: warm it up first so your topping of choice is able to melt into the bread a bit.) Whether you serve it the classic way, or you make a batch to grab-and-go as needed throughout your busy day, try out this staple and see if you don’t just end up loving it.

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