Boston brown bread is a type of quick bread that was popular in New England in the 19th century. It is made with a combination of whole wheat flour, rye flour, and cornmeal, and is typically sweetened with molasses. It is typically baked in a loaf or bundt pan.
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The old-favorite, brown bread is the very image of classic bread. Common in Ireland before the Great Famine of the 18th century, brown bread is markedly considered the poor person’s bread.
Brown bread is famous regionally in both Ireland and Boston, where Irish immigrants popularized the Boston Brown Bread served with baked beans and franks.
The Bostonian version incorporates corn and rye in the flour, harking back to when immigrants struggled to grow wheat in New England and adopted rye and corn as their grains of choice.
Brown bread consists of brown whole grains, typically wheat, and dark-colored ingredients like molasses or even coffee. This type of bread is denser than its lighter counterpart and is considered healthier than white-floured bread.
Brown bread is traditionally baked with a leavening agent of baking soda or yeast, depending on local custom.
The History of Brown Bread
There is no place more proud of their brown bread than Boston. Brown bread does indeed have a respectable history in the United States, but its origins are far older than you’d expect. Brown bread is the esteemed grandfather of the modern wheat bread.
In England prior to the 20th Century, brown bread was made out of thirded flour containing rye, wheat, and oats. The mixture creates a darker flour that is a less expensive alternative to pure wheat flour that was perfect for the poor and middle class of England.
When the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, they expected to plant wheat for their grain source. They soon discovered that was not possible and began to plant rye with their wheat. The hearty, dark brown bread was quickly dominated the New England colony’s baking.
Thanks to the trade between England, the West Indies, Africa, and the Americas, molasses, and rum became essential to cooking and eating in New England. Both rum and molasses became ingredients in brown bread, darkening its flavor and coloring.
The popularity of brown bread has not lessened over the centuries in America. Cookbooks ranging from The Concord Souvenir Cook Book to Betty Crocker’s famous recipe books included recipes for brown bread.
By the 1920s, modern machinery had begun to impact the world of breadmaking. The American company B;M revolutionized the story of brown bread by introducing bread in a can! While not as popular today, the canned bread became a commodity in New England and around the U.S.
Over time, brown bread grew to become the favored bread of New England and remains markedly an American cuisine, though other countries have their own variations of the bread with similar traits.
The Pilgram roots of brown bread have lent the American brown bread a patriotic air. From its roots came the Boston Brown Bread and other American variations.
Ingredients in Brown Bread
Typical brown bread recipes contain the following ingredients:
- Rye flour
- Wheat flour
- Oat flour
- Baking Soda or Baking Powder or Yeast (for some older recipes)
Brown Bread Nutritional Information
Brown bread is a heartier type of bread when compared to white bread variations.
It contains 4% of your daily value of iron, and less carbs than white variations. Brown bread is typically rich in vitamins like Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. It typically has fewer simple carbs than white bread and will keep you fuller for longer.
However, depending on the ingredients used to darken and sweeten the loaf, the bread might contain higher amounts of sugar and sodium.
How to Make Brown Bread
Brown bread recipes vary greatly depending on the region and inspiration of the bread. Brown bread of Bostonian origin is usually a quick-bread risen from baking powder or baking soda. Traditional recipes usually use yeast as the rising agent.
For yeasted dough, you mix and knead the dough before letting it rise for an hour or two, until twice its size. Then, you bake the bread in the oven and top it with oats or seeds for added texture.
Baking powder or baking soda risen bread usually only require a mixing of the ingredients before being poured into the bread pan for baking.
The Boston Brown bread recipe is notably different from its other brown bread counterparts. You prepare and mix the bread like a standard quick-bread, however you typically steam Boston Brown bread on the stovetop in coffee cans instead of baked in the oven.
Brown Bread Recipes
Brown bread recipes are notable by their rich flavor and dark texture. The greatest variation typically resides in the darkening agent.
The traditional ingredient used to darken and flavor brown bread are molasses, or rum, but some variations us coffee or cinnamon. More variations include adding raisins, cranberries, or nuts to the bread.
Some people believe that brown bread is healthier than white bread because it contains more fiber and nutrients. Others believe that white bread is a better choice because it is lower in calories and fat. Ultimately, the best decision is to choose the bread that best fits your individual dietary needs.
Boston brown bread was originally made in a can because it was a convenient way to bake the bread and keep it fresh.
Brown bread is also called whole wheat bread.
The typical ingredients in boston brown bread are cornmeal, rye flour, wheat flour, molasses, baking soda, salt, and water.
To make boston brown bread, you will need to mix together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, rye flour, wheat flour, baking soda, and salt), then add the wet ingredients (molasses and water). Once everything is combined, pour the batter into a greased loaf or bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Boston brown bread has been a staple in New England cuisine for centuries. It is thought to have originated with the Native Americans, who used cornmeal to make a type of unleavened bread. When European settlers arrived in the Americas, they began to adapt the recipe to include rye flour and molasses. Boston brown bread became especially popular during the 1800s, when bakers began selling it door-to-door.
Boston brown bread can be served plain or with butter, cream cheese, or jam. It is often served as an accompaniment to baked beans or soup.
There are many other quick breads that are similar to boston brown bread, such as banana bread, pumpkin bread, and zucchini bread.
Boston brown bread will last for several days when stored in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for longer-term storage.
Boston brown bread is a relatively healthy food, as it is made with whole wheat flour and cornmeal. However, it does contain molasses, which is a sugar.
If you cannot find boston brown bread, you can try making a similar quick bread using rye flour, wheat flour, cornmeal, molasses, and baking soda.
Boston brown bread should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. It can also be frozen for longer-term storage.
Yes, boston brown bread can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for several days.
No, boston brown bread is not gluten-free, as it contains wheat flour.
Yes, boston brown bread is vegan, as it does not contain any animal products.
Boston brown bread is typically made with cornmeal, rye flour, wheat flour, molasses, baking soda, and salt.
A slice of boston brown bread typically contains around 100 calories.
Boston brown bread generally contains very little fat, as most of the fat is in the form of healthy unsaturated fats.
Boston brown bread contains a moderate amount of carbs, as it is made with cornmeal, rye flour, and wheat flour.
No, boston brown bread is not low in sugar, as it contains molasses.
Yes, boston brown bread is high in fiber, as it is made with whole wheat flour and cornmeal.
Boston brown bread is a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. It also contains some iron and calcium.
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