Baked Brown Bread (in a can)

While growing up, we always had baked brown bread from a can at our Thanksgiving table. I’ve since learned that it was a “New England” thing and have tried to have it at our tables. This year, with all the baking and learning I have done, I decided to try making it for myself. Here is the recipe – which we have since fallen in love with.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground corn meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup mollasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Nuts and/or raisins optional


  1. Before beginning, start a large pan of water to boiling on the stove and preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and all wet ingredients in another
  3. When done, blend them both together. Will be disgusting and poopy-like when done. This is ok!
  4. Butter a loaf pan or prepare with oil and flour
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil
  6. Place loaf pan in a shallow roasting pan  and fill to 1/3rd the size of the loaf pan with boiling water
  7. Bake 2 hours. If testing with toothpick and it comes out dirty/wet, bake for an additional 30 minutes
  8. Cool loaf pan 10 minutes before turning out the brown bread on a rack to dry the bottom of it.
  9. Serve warm with butter

To make it in a jar, which is how it is intended to be made, the following Preparation steps are substituted:

4. Butter your jars (typically 8 jars for a double-recipe)

5. Put enough water in a stock pot to go slightly half-way up the sides of the jars you are using (we use pint-sized, wide-mouth jars)

6. Heat the lids of the jars and keep them warm in a pot of water until ready to use.

7. When the water is boiling in the pot, fill the jars only to half-full with the Brown Bread mix; wipe the rims and place the lids and rings on. Rings should be “finger-tight.”

8. Place the 8 jars in the pot and cover. Heat on a high simmer/boiling for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

9. Remove the jars and let cool on a wire rack. The jars will seal themselves and, when they are cooled off (about 12 hours), you can remove the bread or store as is.

It is not recommended to leave the bread in the jars for long-term storage unless you plan on freezing the jars with the bread inside. I take the bread out, roll it in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil before placing in the freezer for long-term storage. It makes a great gift but do warn people to remove the plastic wrap (and rewrap in the aluminum foil) before reheating in the oven.

This bread is baked by steam, not heat. The aluminum foil helps when reheating because it traps the heat inside to keep the bread moist. If you microwave it, it will get hard and not taste nearly as good.

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