Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread


Nourishing Nostalgia: Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread – A Homage to Simplicity

Step into the heart of New England tradition with Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread, a humble yet flavorful creation that has graced tables for generations. This rustic bread, steamed to perfection, captures the essence of simplicity and nourishes both the body and the soul. Join us on a culinary journey as we uncover the history behind this traditional bread, explore its wholesome ingredients, and guide you through the art of crafting a loaf that embodies the comforting flavors of the past.



For the Boston Brown Bread:

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

For Greasing:

  • Butter or cooking spray

For Steaming:

  • Water


Step 1: Prepare the Steaming Apparatus

  1. Start by preparing a steaming apparatus. This can be a large pot with a steamer basket or a dedicated steamer. Add enough water to the pot to create steam but not so much that it touches the bottom of the bread tin during steaming. Preheat the water over medium heat.

Step 2: Grease the Bread Tin 2. Grease a 9×5-inch bread tin with butter or cooking spray to prevent the bread from sticking.

Step 3: Mix Dry Ingredients 3. In a large mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients together until well combined.

Step 4: Add Wet Ingredients 4. In a separate bowl, whisk together molasses and buttermilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in raisins if desired.

Step 5: Pour into Bread Tin 5. Pour the batter into the greased bread tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Step 6: Steam the Bread 6. Place the bread tin in the steaming apparatus. Cover the pot with a lid, leaving a slight gap for steam to escape. Steam the bread for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Step 7: Cool and Slice 7. Once done, carefully remove the bread tin from the steamer. Allow the Boston Brown Bread to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Cooking Notes:

  • Steaming Time: The steaming time can vary, so keep an eye on the water level and replenish it if necessary. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Raisin Variation: Raisins add a delightful sweetness to the bread. Feel free to omit them or substitute with chopped nuts for a different texture.
  • Steaming Apparatus: If you don’t have a steamer, you can fashion one using a pot with a trivet or an overturned heatproof bowl to elevate the bread tin above the water.
  • Buttermilk Substitute: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using.


1. Nutty Crunch: Add a cup of chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, to the batter for a delightful crunch and nutty flavor.

2. Citrus Zest Burst: Enhance the flavor profile by adding the zest of an orange or a lemon to the batter. The citrusy notes complement the richness of molasses.

3. Ginger Spice Infusion: Introduce a warm and spicy element by adding a teaspoon of ground ginger to the dry ingredients. This variation adds a subtle kick to each bite.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

For the Keto Enthusiasts:

  • Flour Replacement: Use almond flour, coconut flour, and flaxseed meal in place of whole wheat and rye flours.
  • Sweetener Substitute: Replace molasses with a keto-friendly sweetener like erythritol or monk fruit syrup.

Low-Carb Adaptation:

  • Flour Adjustment: Choose a low-carb flour alternative and adjust quantities accordingly to fit your dietary preferences.
  • Sweetener Choice: Opt for a low-carb sweetener in place of molasses, adjusting the sweetness to your liking.

In conclusion, Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread is more than a recipe; it’s a connection to a bygone era, a taste of New England’s heritage, and a celebration of simple, wholesome ingredients. As you slice into this steamed marvel, you’re not just enjoying bread; you’re partaking in a tradition that has sustained families for centuries. So, let the aroma of molasses and the texture of hearty grains transport you to a time when the kitchen was the heart of the home, and every meal was a labor of love. Share this bread with loved ones, savoring not just the taste but the rich history it carries. May each bite be a reminder of the beauty found in simplicity and the enduring legacy of time-honored recipes. Bake a loaf of Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread, and let the echoes of tradition fill your kitchen with warmth and nourishment.



Classic Sugar Cream Pie

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket