The early settlers of New England found growing wheat difficult: rye was easier in wet, northerly climates and on hungry, briefly settled lands. And ‘Indian’ corn - maize - the indigenous staple of north America, was easier still. Hence breads were often of mixed flours - as they had been among poorer households back in England - for instance, rye and wheat, or the ‘thirded’ breads made of wheat, rye and cornmeal.
Boston Brown Bread is one of these, and it also betrays its origins by being steamed, so simple to make in kitchens that had no ovens.
It is almost universal today to make Boston Brown Bread with bicarbonate of soda (not used until the second half of the 19th century) rather than yeast, and a healthy addition of molasses or treacle. This really makes it an aerated cake rather than bread as we understand it. It does go awfully well with Boston baked beans - another heavily sweetened savoury food.
To make this bread, you could use a
My favoured vessel is a straight-sided 1.2 litre/
You will also need a small rack or trivet to keep the pudding basin, tin or flask from touching the bottom of the saucepan and, of course, a saucepan, with a lid, large enough to do the steaming.
© 2005 Tom Jaine. All rights reserved.