Boston brown bread: No-bake steamed coffee can bread retro recipe

Boston brown bread - vintage recipe

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Boston brown bread: Molasses bread steamed in coffee cans

Just as slow baking develops the full flavor of old-fashioned baked beans, slow steaming mellows the delightful molasses flavor of Boston brown bread.

Made with enriched flour, this bread — in addition to contributing much-needed iron to the menu — also adds its portion of vitamin B1.

Delicately moist and easy to slice, Boston brown bread is the perfect accompaniment for that Down East Dinner. Serve it with pats of butter.

Children will welcome its appearance in their school lunch boxes. Spread it with soft, cream cheese or thick jam, or with their favorite peanut butter. 

Boston brown bread - vintage recipe

Boston brown bread

Yield: 24 slices
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

This recipe is from 1973


  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup dark raisins


  1. Grease two (1-pound size) coffee cans.
  2. Into a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine milk, buttermilk and molasses.
  4. Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture; beat with a spoon until well combined.
  5. Stir in raisins.
  6. Pour mixture into the coffee cans, filling each about two-thirds full.
  7. Tie pieces of heavy aluminum foil tightly over top of each can.
  8. Place cans on a rack in a deep kettle.
  9. Add boiling water to kettle to come halfway up sides of cans.
  10. Cover kettle.
  11. Steam 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
  12. Add more boiling water to kettle as needed to maintain level around cans.
  13. Remove cans to a wire rack; cool.


Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices per loaf.

For serving later, cool bread in cans; store covered in refrigerator.

To reheat: Place covered cans on rack in boiling water in large kettle and steam about 30 minutes, or until heated through.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 152Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 276mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 4g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

MORE: 90-minute beer bread (1983)

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