I love this bread. It’s definitely a bread meant for soup, butter, honey, a fried egg on top – something it can soak up. It’s dense, smells like gingerbread and it bakes in an old coffee can. How much more nostalgic or delightful can this get? We first made this recipe to accompany homemade clam chowder. Both recipes came out of arguably the best issue of Bon Appetit in years – the November 2012 issue. That issue had several recipes we’ve made countless times, AND an interview with Nick Offerman, a.k.a Ron Swanson. Best issue ever.
This is called Boston Brown Bread. It’s a classic recipe in New England and is typically made to go with clam chowder. I love that it makes two loaves. I can freeze one right out of the oven, or give it away. I think this time, it will travel with us this weekend to go see our friends, Matt and Anna in Dallas, who JUST found out they are having a baby GIRL in January. We are so excited to go spend some time with our culinary soul mates and best friends.
So, call your nearest neighbor who you might suspect keeps everything and ask if they have any old coffee cans you can use. I did exactly that with my friend, Ann, and she delivered. :) One more thing that makes me happy when I make this bread – I think of Ann!
A few tablespoons of butter
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour (this is the important one to not substitute – I think you could sub AP flour for the wheat and it would be just fine, but the rye imparts an important flavor to the bread)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 – empty, clean coffee cans, 11-13 ounces
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut two 6″ squares of foil. Coat insides of the cans and one side of each piece of foil with butter. Stir milk and brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is just warmed (don’t boil). Whisk whole wheat flour and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Divide batter between cans and smooth tops. (note! if the cans still have a lip rim, simply take your can opener to the top and it will cut that lip right off).
Cover cans with foil, butter side down. Secure foil with kitchen twine. Place cans foil side up in a deep roasting pan or heavy, shallow pot. Pour very hot water into pan to come about 2-3″ up the side of the cans.
Bake until a skewer inserted through the foil into the center of each loaf comes out clean, about 1.5 hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cans. invert to release loaves onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with soft, salted butter and rejoice.