The COOK and the BAKER

Seasonal recipe blog from our farm kitchen to yours. Family meals, appetizers, breads, and desserts sprinkled with a touch of culinary exploration from around the world.

Boston Brown Bread

There’s nothing like the feeling of a warm, spring day. The windows open, a light breeze whirling through the house, clean laundry, and the smell of fresh, homemade bread.

Today we’re featuring a lovely homemade recipe sure to please every hungry tummy in the house!


For this recipe you’re going to need quite a few things. As always, a complete list of ingredients and the full recipe are listed below.

Coffee cans, folks. You might ask…wait, you can still buy those? I thought they made those back in 1813. Here’s the skinny; some old-timers still think their coffee tastes better in a metal can, so you can still buy them if you look around. I had a few on hand since I have made this before. Size is important: try to find two cans that are the same size. The cans I use in this recipe are 1 pound coffee cans.

Soooo. It’s time to get down to making this deliciousness. Grab 1 cup flower, cornmeal, and rye or whole wheat flour along with a touch of baking soda and salt.

Combine everything into a large bowl and grab a spoon.

Mix well.

Add 1 cup raisins to the bowl, and mix.

Grab two coffee cans and grease well. This is very important– make sure to take the time and grease the insides of both very well; otherwise you will have problems getting the bread out after steaming.

Add 3/4 cup molasses and 2 cups buttermilk to a large measuring cup. Mix until even.

Now it’s time to combine the wet and the dry.

Stir just until blended. Be careful not to over mix.

Okay! Time to divide the bread mixture evenly between the two cans. Apply your waxed paper tops to each can after filling.

Cover the tops with tin foil and use rubber bands to keep in place.

Wait, no oven? That’s the best part! This yumminess is made the old-fashioned way. Place cans into simmering water that is high enough to reach half the height of your coffee cans. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. This steam cooks the bread. Set your kitchen timer for 1 1/2 hours. Cooking could take up to 2 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, check to see if water is low and add more if needed.

Now you get to relax for a while… Or do dishes. 🙂

Once the timer goes off, check to see if things are looking good. Do this by (carefully) removing the tin foil and pealing away some of the waxed paper to have a peek.

Remove the coffee cans and place them somewhere to let cool for a few minutes.

Now remove any remaining covering…Mmm.. It’s smelling good!!

Flip the coffee cans upside down and allow gravity to do it’s thing while slowing lifting the cans up.

Oh MY goodness. Perfect! While it may not look like much, your mouth will be thanking you as soon as you’ve taken your first bite.

Grab some butter, (because we all know that everything is better with butter…) and slice it up! This is the perfect spring or summer afternoon treat for just a normal day or even for guests! Enjoy!

Boston Brown Bread (2 loaves)


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup rye or whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins

Non-food items

  • 2 1-pound coffee cans (well greased)
  • 2 pieces of aluminum foil
  • 2 greased, round-cut pieces of waxed paper to fit cans
  • 2 rubberbands


1. Combine all dry ingredients into large bowl and mix.

2. Toss in 1 cup raisins and mix.

3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix 3/4 cup molasses and 2 cups buttermilk, stirring well until brown.

4. Pour the molasses and buttermilk mix into the bowl containing the dry ingredients. IMPORTANT: Mix everything until just combined. Do not over mix.

5. Divide between both cans and cover with waxed paper. Cover tops of cans with aluminum foil and use rubber bands to secure.

6. Place cans in simmering water – high enough to reach half the height of the cans. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours (could take up to 2 hours.) Add more water half way through cooking time if necessary.

7. Once timer goes off, carefully check to see if bread is finished by removing the foil and waxed paper. Loaves should look moist, but not runny. Remove cans from pot and place somewhere to cool for a few minutes.

8. Remove any foil and waxed paper and flip coffee cans upside down to remove bread. Gently shake and lift.


Serve with butter and enjoy! Makes 2 loaves.



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