being from texas, i haven’t always been up to speed on all of the culinary traditions of the north. but i’m thrilled to have been recently introduced to the concept of brown bread.
this bread holds a lot of history. it dates back to ireland and england, but here on US soil the concept hails back to the colonial era. the traditional boston brown bread was made from an even ratio of cornmeal, wheat flours, and rye, then sweetened with molasses and sometimes raisins. the part that caught my interest most is that it is steamed in a coffee can on the stove top in a hot water bath, then transferred to a hot oven to finish baking. traditionally, it’s served alongside new england baked beans, sopping up extra juices and sweetening the meal slightly. to us texans, this is the northern version of pinto beans and cornbread.
rye flour is not gluten-free. though i knew i’d miss its distinctive flavor profile, it had to go. instead i substituted it was teff flour to keep the dark color and to give a little more protein to the bread. this one also has currants and i threw in some orange rind, making it difficult to not slather in butter and eat the whole “loaf” at once.
i’m always excited to discover new culinary delights, especially when they are loaded with history and tell a story of a part of the world. do learn from my mistake and let’s not repeat this particular piece of history… i chose a coffee can that had a lip on the inside of the can. it didn’t dawn on me till it was too late that the bread couldn’t slide out of the can. indeed it was caught up upon attempted exit. a pair of pliers, a determined baker, and a sacrificed coffee can later… the bread was devoured.
simple and fun to make. and would be a great science and history lesson to take on with kids.
Yield 8 servings
- 70 grams (about 1/2 cup) gluten-free cornmeal
- 70 grams (about 1/2 cup) teff flour
- 70 grams (about 1/2 cup) kumquat's all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 1/3 cup currants
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Combine molasses and remaining ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup.
- Add molasses mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Pour batter into a 11-ounce coffee can, generously sprayed inside with cooking spray. Cover lid of coffee can with foil to cover.
- Place can in a medium saucepan and fill saucepan with warm water till water reaches about half-way up the side of the coffee can.
- Bring water to a boil over high heat.
- Transfer saucepan to oven and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until bread is done. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread should come out clean when bread is done.
- Remove coffee can from water bath and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove bread from can and let cool before slicing.
- Serve with generous pats of butter.