Boston Brown Bread


Loaf (coffee can size)
Prep time2 hours
RegionMassachusetts Colonial


Boston Brown Bread

This is the traditional beantown accompaniment to fishcakes or baked beans. It is a sweeter descendant of the colonial "thirded bread", made of equal parts rye flour, whole wheat flour, and "indian" or cornmeal in the days when wheat was scarce in New England.

This makes a fine breakfast for today's tastes, similar to a bran muffin. It is great toasted or sliced and warmed in hot butter in a skillet.  

For a lighter flavored, molasses-free version, see Boston Blonde Bread


1⁄2cRye Flour
1⁄2cCornmeal (stone-ground, fresh)
1⁄2cWhole Wheat Flour
3⁄4tBaking Soda
6TButter (Unsalted) (melted)
1eaEggs (lightly beaten)


  1. Butter a coffee can, loaf pan, or muffin pan (see Additional Notes)
  2. Combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Melt the butter, and mix the beaten egg into it. Add the buttermilk and molasses and mix well.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until mixed, but do not overmix.
  5. Stir in the raisins.
  6. Put the batter into the baking tin and cover tightly. Boil for an hour and 45 minutes to two hours.
  7. Let cool in can or tin 10-15 minutes before unmolding.


Coffee cans are not what they once were. Now they have pull-tops, leaving a ring inside the prevents the bread from getting out. You can open the bottom with a can-opener and never use that can again.

If you can get to a restaurant supply store, a 1-liter sauce insert for a steam table works well, just use a strip of parchment paper to run down both sides and across the bottom to simplify the final extraction. I go to Westermans in Worcester.

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