Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Steamed Boston Brown Bread

You can't have baked beans without brown bread, can you? Since there is nowhere to buy the type in a tin around here, I made my own following the recipe in Beard on Bread with a few modifications. I used Golden Syrup for half the molasses. I didn't plan on that, but after making the baked beans I did not have enough left. Golden Syrup is a good substitute for mild molasses, though heaven knows it isn't economical to purchase in these parts. Roughly double the price of molasses. Yikes.

I did not add raisins or currants because I was afraid the Golden Syrup would already be on the sweet side. You could add 1 cup of dried fruit to the batter at the end if you like. Some people cut up apricots and add them, but those people are heretics.

The recipe called for graham flour, which I do not keep on hand (I make my graham crackers with whole wheat). I substituted whole wheat flour. I used dried buttermilk solids instead of fresh buttermilk as well. Very handy stuff to keep in your fridge if you bake.

The only pudding mould I own was my mother's which I believe was her aunt's before her. It is ceramic and blue and very, very old. I no longer use it for fear of breakage. I'm also somewhat concerned it may be full of lead (which would explain quite a bit about our family, I'm afraid). Instead, I opened two 1 lb. tins of apricots I was planning to use anyway, and used them. I would not use tins that have been lined with anything, such as the sort tomatoes come in. You're going to be steaming for two hours and what with all the hysteria over the materials in plastic bottles which is made from similar material, I would err on the side of caution. I have successfully steamed puddings in small ceramic souffle dishes as well, though you do sacrifice height if you go that way. Coffee tins work as well.

I used my canner to steam the breads, with the tins nestled in the rack. I also used a jar-lifter to remove them which worked magnificently.

You Will Need:
(Makes Two)

1 cup rye meal (I used medium rye flour)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup graham flour (I used whole wheat)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup molasses (I used 1/2 Golden Syrup)
2 cups buttermilk (I used solids and water)

Butter two 1 lb. tins generously and butter two pieces of foil to go over the top. Set aside. Fit a large pot with either a rack, or a metal trivet to lift the tins off the bottom for steaming. Add some water (about 5 inc) and in another pan, have boiling water ready to fill-the water should go about half-way up the side of the tins. You may need to add more during the steaming if it boils off.

Combine dry ingredients and add the molasses and buttermilk. Stir until well mixed. I used a spatula to scrape it off the bottom where clumps of dry ingredients often lurk in these heavy batters.

Pour into prepared tins and cover with buttered foil. The dough will rise to the top, so don't worry if it looks like there is too much empty space. A second layer of foil wouldn't hurt because you want to keep out any water. With string, tightly secure the foil.

Set the tins into the pot and steam for around 2 hours (mine took 2 hours exactly) testing with a skewer for doneness. Check the pot now and then during steaming and add more boiling water if needed.

Beard suggests letting the unmoulded breads dry out for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven. I used a 300 degree F. oven for seven minutes (because I had beans baking away at 300) and it was perfect, Cool on racks. Serve warmed with baked beans, or butter, or what the hell-both!

Remove tins carefully, and unmould. I had no difficulty dislodging them by running a thin knife carefully around it and inverting onto a rack. If they get stuck, use a can opener and remove the bottom, then simply push them through.

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