Maybe it's because my grandfather was from Connecticut (New Haven, for those of you who are curious), but I feel a strong affinity for all things New England. Unfortunately, Grandpa Ben passed away before I was born, but my father remembers him making Boston Brown Bread. And, because my mother was my mother (awesome and amazing), she used to make it in his honor. Anyhow, I grew up with it and have fond memories of the baking process and the taste.
One of the things I love about it is that it's made on the stove. My mom used to steam it in tin cans, recycled baked beans cans, to be exact. I've been wanting to try my hand at making it, and so I did! It turned out exactly as I remember. The taste totally brings me back. The cornmeal and molasses mixed up with rye and graham flour. Yummmm!
I picked up the graham flour from Bob's Red Mill when I visited their headquarters in Oregon last summer, with that idea in mind.
On another note, I have been spending lots of time in the cookbook section of the L.A. Central Library, that is rows 50-58 of the Science & Tech Department located on Lower Level 2 (LL2) of the Tom Bradley wing. The first time I experienced it, I was blown away at the number of volumes.
This is sort of how it plays out. Each row has eight sections and seven shelves. Each shelf within a section has 26 to 39 cookbooks. That's 208 to 312 books on a shelf. Multiply that by seven shelves and that's 1,456 to 2,184 cookbooks in a row. And each row has two sides! The way I have it figured (I won a trophy in 5th grade for my amazing math skills), that's well over 30,000 cookbooks. Inspiration jumps at you as you wander the rows.
On one of my recent visits, I happened upon The Yankee Cook Book, by Imogene Wolcott. Low and behold, this book from 1939 has a recipe for Boston Brown Bread. And that's the one I made...only to find out soon after that my sister actually has my mom's recipe. Haha! Not sure why I didn't ask her in the first place. Anyway, I do love my adventures at the L.A. Library, and I've included both recipes below.
Start with one cup of rye flour. I buy mine in the bulk section of the Co-opportunity Market in Santa Monica.
Add one cup of cornmeal.
Then one cup of graham flour. As I mentioned, I used Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Stone Ground Graham Flour, which you can buy online if you can't make it to their headquarters in Milwaukie, Oregon, though I strongly encourage a visit. You'll want to bring a sleeping bag and just live there awhile, though they'd probably frown on it.
Three-quarters tablespoon of baking soda.
A teaspoon of salt.
Whisk it all together and give it a good stir.
Add in the molasses (3/4 cup).
Then 2 cups of buttermilk.
Stir it all up. I opted not to add raisins, but if you desire them, this is where that would happen.
Get out your tin cans.
Butter the inside of the cans.
Carefully spoon in the batter, filling not more than 2/3 full.
Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil over the top.
Place a rack at the bottom of your pot of water.
And carefully place your tin cans of Boston Brown Bread in the pot so that the water level is about halfway up the sides of the cans.
Place a lid over the top (not shown here) so it steams. Bring to a boil, then turn low and simmer for three hours!
Boston Brown Bread Recipe from The Yankee Cook Book, by Imogene Wolcott
1 cup rye flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup graham flour
3/4 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup molasses
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins (optional)
Barbara's Boston Brown Bread
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sifted white or rye flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 cup sour or buttermilk
2/3 cup molasses
Both recipes make two small loaves. I just love that it's bread in a can!