Boston Brown Bread made in a loaf pan

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Boston Brown Bread made in a loaf pan

star rating (7) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

And you thought it only came out of a can, right? Boston brown bread is actually a mixture of rye and wheat flours and cornmeal, sweetened with molasses, moistened with buttermilk, and steamed in a steamer for hours atop the stove.

But I was willing to bet this bread could be baked as well as steamed. So I fooled around with the ingredients in several recipes -- all remarkably the same, by the way -- until I had something that would fit into a standard loaf pan. Then, to somewhat imitate the steaming process, I covered the top with aluminum foil. After an hour in the oven, I peeled off the foil to reveal -- brown bread! I hope you enjoy the results as much as I did. -- P.J.H.

3/4 cup pumpernickel
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup currants
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses

In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpernickel, cornmeal, whole wheat, baking soda, salt and currants. In a separate bowl, beat the buttermilk and molasses together till smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix till just combined; there's no need to beat the batter.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, and cover it with buttered aluminum foil, fastening the foil tight to the edges of the pan (so the bread will steam a bit), but ballooning it in the center, so the bread has room to expand without hitting the foil.

Bake the bread in a preheated 325°F oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil (the middle may be slightly sunken; that's OK), and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Yield: 1 loaf, about 16 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (1/2-inch slice, 58g): 122 cal, .6g fat, 3g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 9g sugar, 3g dietary fiber, 1mg cholesterol, 192mg sodium, 260mg potassium, 11RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 59mg calcium, 103mg phosphorus.


  • star rating 02/25/2015
  • Wendy Akin from Texas
  • Super easy and tastes even better than the stuff in a can. PJ Hamel is a genius!
  • 07/24/2014
  • Jacqueline from Southaven, MS
  • I wanted to surprise my step-dad with an authentic, brown bread he talks about from his youth. I was nervous, but made this easy, delicious bread. He loved it!!! Since I baked in oven I loaf pan, I put a pan of hot water on the lowest rack for steam effect. I will make again! Great recipe!
  • star rating 03/02/2013
  • Mary from Milton NY
  • Great bread! I did modify it somewhat. I had to use rye flour instead of pumpernickel, raisins instead of currants and to create a darker color I added 3 tablespoons of Hershey's dark cocoa powder. I also placed a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to create some steam. Excellent bread in a loaf pan!
  • star rating 12/16/2012
  • Frank from Providence
  • I made this bread for a Church sponsored Ham & Bean dinner. One recipe loaf per table, about 120 people in all, eight to ten people per table, and none to be found by the end of the meal.
  • star rating 11/09/2012
  • from
  • star rating 02/16/2010
  • from
  • Very yummy, went perfectly with some homemade baked beans.
  • star rating 08/08/2009
  • Lee from Cambridge, MA
  • I actually used the ingredient quantities for Brown Bread I and the steaming technique for Brown Bread II, so that I could steam it in a loaf pan instead of coffee cans. I set the pan on a rack in a large stockpot with water, covered, and steamed it for 2 hours on the stove. It was delicious! A little on the sweet side (almost like a bran muffin), but it was very good with cream cheese.