Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Boston Brown Bread

It is no coincidence that the method used to bake this bread, known as steaming, is similar to one used by the native Indians of New England, who taught us how to use corn as a grain for bread. The most famous of our region's breads, this wholesome blend of wheat, rye, and yellow corn flours is suitable for our diets today as it was 300 years ago.

1 - 2 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing
1 1/2 cups brown-bread flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 cup milk
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (sometimes they used dried cranberries)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Next generously grease a 1-quart pudding mold or 1-pound coffee can. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the molasses and milk. Fold in the currants.   Fill the mold or coffee can with batter. It should come up about two-thirds of the way. Cover the top with foil and tie securely with a string to make it airtight. Place in a deep baking pan and fill the pan with boiling water, to come halfway up the side of the mold. Place in the preheated oven and allow to steam for 2 hours, checking the water level after 1 hour. Add more boiling water if needed. Check by sticking a skewer into the bread; it will come out clean when done. Remove string and foil and allow cooling for 1 hour before unmolding.

*A specialty of New England, brown-bread flour is a mixture of whole wheat, rye and cornmeal or johnnycake meal. It can be purchased already mixed or made by simply combining equal parts of wheat and rye flour and yellow cornmeal.

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