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Boston Brown Bread or brown bread in a can, is an old American steamed bread, moist and flavored with rye, molasses and raisins. I grew up enjoying the wonderful flavor of Boston brown bread; my grandmother would purchase the bread in cans from the grocery store and serve it sliced for lunch. When I found this old recipe for Boston Brown Bread I decided I had to try and make it myself. Before you try to make brown bread in a can you need to find two coffee tins. Make sure they are full size coffee cans and the heavier the better. I had two coffee cans, one was smaller and it was failure. The can tipped over halfway through and the bread did not come out! the other loaf worked perfectly.brown bread in a can


Boston Brown Bread




1 cup flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup rye flour

½ cup yellow cornmeal

1 tsp. Baking soda

1 tsp. making powder

1 tsp. Salt

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup dark molasses

1 cup raisins




Before you begin to mix the ingredients together to make the batter, get the pots ready you are going to steam the bread in in ready and grease the sides and bottoms of two empty one pound coffee cans. The cans should stand on a rack so the water can circulate freely around the bottom, If you don’t have an extra rack you can stand the cans on mason jar lids. The pot must have a lid on top so the steam doesn’t escape. Fill the pot with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the coffee cans. Start heating the water to bring it to a boil while you prepare the bread batter.


Put the flour, whole wheat, and rye flours and the cornmeal into a large mixing bowl. Stir wit a large spoon to mix well. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and stir to blend into the flours. Add the buttermilk and molasses, and briskly stir to blend everything thoroughly. Stir I the raisins. Pour the batter into the two well-greased cans, dividing it evenly between them.brown bread in a can Each can will be about half-full. Uses a double layer of aluminum foil to snuggly cover the tops and secure the foil with rubber bands.brown bread in a can Put the cans into the pot when the water is boiling, and cover the pot with a lid. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough water and that the water is boiling. Steam the breads for 2 hours. Remove the cans and take off the foil,brown bread in a can then shake them upside down so the breads will slide out of the cans onto a rack. Let cool slightly before serving.brown bread in a can


I wish my grandmother were still alive so that I could serve her my homemade brown bread in a can. It tastes as good as I remember!

7 comments on “Brown Bread in a Can

Lisa Lynn on May 14, 2018 7:00 pm

My Gram used to make this…it seems like her recipe used graham flour. But it was the best! Thank for the reminder…I’ll have to make this again soon. 🙂

Nancy Wolff on May 14, 2018 7:20 pm

Lisa Lynn,
I have never cooked with graham flour but I’ll best the bread was delicious!

Lisa Lynn on May 14, 2018 7:44 pm

It was! My maternal grandmother baked to support her family after her first husband passed away…she had a lot of wonderful recipes!

Tracy Albiero on May 15, 2018 5:59 pm

Again….I am back in my grandma’s kitchen. We would eat this all the time. No one around me knows what this is. I may have to make this and show them! #happynowblog

Jean Cabral on May 16, 2018 5:51 pm

Sat. night was baked beans, franks, potato salad and brown bread. My aunt made it in coffee tins from the 40’s and oh the smell in that house was devine!! =)

Nancy Wolff on May 16, 2018 5:58 pm

Eating this bread takes me back to my childhood! Although I think the bread my grandmother served did’t have raisins in it!

Melissia Bruehl on May 17, 2018 8:34 pm

Yes! My Grandma used to make this too and I always loved it. Yum.

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