Brown Bread—No, Probably Not What You’re Thinking

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m always looking for something new, unusual, or at least different to add to our Thanksgiving table. This year, I’ve decided to try the New England taste treat called Brown Bread, but I wanted to do a trial run with the recipe.

The finished product–yum!

As a young girl, whose mother grew up in Maine where it’s a staple, I was offered brown bread on occasion. It came in a can manufactured by B&M (located in Portland, Maine) and often served with hot dogs and baked beans. If you look in the right store, on a particular shelf, you can still find canned Brown Bread. I honestly don’t know if I ever tried it or just decided by the aroma and the look of it that I wasn’t going to like it, but I have this fuzzy memory of not liking it.

Ingredients gathered
(half the job of cooking!)

But there have plenty of food items over the years I’ve decided to try after writing them off as a child and have ultimately decided I love them—Brussels sprouts, yellow turnip, whole cranberry sauce, fried onions, most seafood, Caesar salad—you get the idea. So, I decided to give Brown Bread a solid try as an adult.

The interesting part about making Brown Bread is that you don’t bake it. You steam it—either in an old coffee can in a large pot on the stove or in a loaf pan inserted in another pan in the oven. Water inserted into the cooking container accomplishes the steaming.

Pan within a pan of water.

I went with the oven method. Besides the fact the method is similar to how I usually make sweet bread, I also did not have an old coffee can—I don’t drink coffee—required to use the stove method.

Among other typical bread components, the recipe listed buttermilk, molasses, allspice, cornmeal, and raisins. How could I go wrong with such savory ingredients? I jumped in and tackled the two-and-a-half-hour process (most of it was baking—or rather, steaming—at 325 degrees).

The pungent aroma soon filled the kitchen, and I found it hard to wait to taste the fruit of my labor—literally.

My husband and I both enjoyed the Brown Bread straight out of the pan, still warm. Then, as recommended in the recipe, I tried sauteing a couple pieces, slathered in butter. (What’s not to love there??) It was yummy that way as well.

When I try a recipe for the first time, I tend to follow the directions explicitly. I don’t tweak it until the second go-round. This time was no exception. In the future, I’ll try a gluten free version and perhaps substitute golden raisins for the regular raisins. But all in all, I rate this attempt a success and look forward to making it again for Thanksgiving.

But now I know why this was not pleasing to my palette as a child. Brown Bread is more of an acquired taste. A heavy molasses cookie/gingerbread man flavor with some raisins thrown in for good measure.

Have you every tried Brown Bread? If so, do you like it and how do you eat it? If not, would you like to try it? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all those who are near and dear to your heart!!

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