Make Ahead

Steamed Brown Bread

November  3, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Makes 8 slices each about 3/4 inch thick
Author Notes

I have lots of cookbooks. I have a whole tote full of church and community cookbooks and while I wouldn't cook a lot of the recipes they are still interesting, inspiring and unique to for their glimpse of the year of food in which the books where created. One of my all time favorites is a book from a now non-existant town in Missouri named Pennytown. It was an African American town that at some point was no more. The residents still stayed in touch and many years later created a cookbook in memory of what once was. I was fortunate enough to take a picture of the ladies who created the book and the newspaper did a story as well. As a result I gave the ladies a copy of their picture and in return they gave me a cookbook. This brown bread was created after a recipe in my mothers hometown church and their fundraiser cookbook. —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 2.3 oz.
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 2.3 oz
  • 1/2 cup fine grind corn meal, 3 oz.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 ounces unsulfered molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • undalted butter for greasing cans
  • salted pasture butter for serving
  1. Grab a pot large enough to hold the soup cans and tall enough to get the lid on it and that will allow you to put a rack on the bottom so the soup cans don’t rest on the bottom of the pot.
  2. Heavily grease the inside of your soup cans or whatever you've decided to use.
  3. In a mixing bowl, with the exception of the raisins, combine all the dry ingredients and mix them well. Now combine the buttermilk and the molasses. Mix everything till smooth and then stir in the raisins.
  4. Use a spatula to fill the cans with the batter and fill the buttered cans no more than 2/3 full. Cover the tops of the cans tightly with aluminum foil and place them into the pot with the rack on the bottom. Fill the pot with hot water until it comes half way up the side of the soup cans.
  5. Place the pot onto the heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer then cover the pot with a lid and set a timer for 1 hour.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • marsiamarsia
  • duclosbe1
  • thirschfeld
  • aargersi
  • Roger Dube
    Roger Dube

13 Reviews

marsiamarsia May 4, 2017
How long must we wait before removing the bread from its container? Will the butter allow it to slip right out from its cans (or pudding basin) without waiting for the bread to cool down completely? Can't wait to try this recipe and EAT IT. . . .
Taf March 27, 2014
This is the way my Grandma used to do it. Yum!
Roxann G. June 18, 2013
One of my fave meals is fried spam with Heinz 57, any kind of canned beans, and canned brown bread, toasted and slathered with butter. Never saw a recipe for the bread but will definitely try my hand at this!! thanks!!
Kathy M. August 12, 2012
We grew up on B&M canned brown bread w/raisins spread w/cream cheese and topped w/slices of piemento-stuffed green olives. I sounds odd, but you've got it all...sweet, salty & creamy. It's delish. I can't wait to try making my own using your recipe. Thank you.
Roger D. June 17, 2013
Nothing odd about's GREAT
Roger D. June 17, 2013
Nothing odd about's GREAT
porchapples November 30, 2011
The mix of flours in TH recipe looks terrific. As many readers are concerned about steaming in cans I add this link to Epicurious which presents a method for cooking this type of bread without using cans -- a pudding mold.
denverdawn November 27, 2011
Love, love, love your recipes! Can't wait to try this bread recipe - since I live in Denver (5,280 feet altitude) I assume I'd need to steam it longer - any idea how much longer?

kiki-bee November 6, 2011
Oh, I've missed this stuff - I grew up in Maine and was raised on brown bread. My mother never made it from scratch, just always bought the canned stuff, but nevertheless it was the perfect accompaniment to baked beans with salt pork. Personally, I've never liked the kind with raisins - I think I'll omit them (thought perhaps I should try it at least once; maybe my tastebuds have grown up by now).
duclosbe1 November 3, 2011
Brown bread is a big thing here in Maine. I've always been curious about it, but I'm a little leery of buying cans of bread at the grocery store. Now I can make it myself! Thanks!
margefromTN November 6, 2011
Don't be leery...I grew up on Friends's Brown bread and miss it..would LOVE a local source. Homemade Backed beans, a loaf of Friends Brown Bread, and either hot dogs, hamburgers, or, best yet, codfish cakes were the most common Saturday night supper when I was growing up. slice the brown bread, slather with butter, reassemble the loaf, wrapped in foil and heat i the oven. Pour the juice from the baked beans over it. YUM....
thirschfeld November 3, 2011
you are so welcome.
aargersi November 3, 2011
My Grandma used to make this and I LOVE it! Thanks you so much for posting!!!