This Traditional Boston Brown Bread In A Can Is So Moist And Delicious

Brown bread steamed in a can has been a New England tradition for ages, and the famous canned brown bread from purveyor B&M has become synonymous with the dish.

The sweet, dense bread (with or without raisins) is a source of nostalgia for many people, especially those with Northeastern roots.

Finding B&M brown bread in your local grocery store isn’t always easy, but there are a few places where you can order it online.

Vermont Country Store

Luckily, you can also make your own brown bread at home in your own can.

Martha Stewart’s delicious brown bread recipe uses three different kinds of flour (rye, graham and cornmeal), along with molasses and sour cream, which gives the bread a sweet but tangy flavor.


According to tradition, she steams the bread in one large can. The batter is poured into the can and then placed into a pot of boiling water covered with a tight-fitting lid or foil.

The pot, with the can in it, then goes into a warm oven, where the bread will steam.

Watch the recipe come together on the Martha Stewart YouTube channel below:

If you don’t have a large can handy, you can also use a pudding mold — which is why this traditional Boston brown bread from King Arthur’s Flour has a different shape.

This recipe calls for cornmeal, pumpernickel and whole-wheat flour. The bread steams in a pot on your stovetop instead of the oven.

King Arthur's Flour

The brown bread recipe at 12 Tomatoes is nice and simple.

It calls for two flours you probably already have in the pantry — whole wheat and all-purpose — and raisins.

With this recipe, you’ll simply bake the bread rather than steaming it.

It still looks delicious and moist!

12 Tomatoes

Brown bread is served in a variety of ways. It can be smeared with butter or cream cheese (highly recommended for raisin brown bread), or topped with beans or franks to turn into a quick and hearty meal.

“Baked beans and brown bread are a traditional New England Saturday-night supper. Baked beans originally had their start with the Pilgrims, when cooking on the Sabbath was prohibited,” the B&M website says.

“The Puritans would be busy baking beans in brick ovens on Saturday, to be eaten piping hot with steamed brown bread that evening. The remains were left in the oven where they were still warm when the family returned from church Sunday morning, ready for breakfast.”

So really, you can eat Boston brown bread any time of day, any way you like!

It’s nice to know that these old culinary traditions are being kept alive and passed down to new generations.

Looking for more delicious homemade bread recipes? If you’re craving a bread that’s just a little bit sweeter, try your hand at a loaf of snickerdoodle bread with this recipe from Averie Cooks.

Averie Cooks

Just like in Martha Stewart’s brown bread recipe, the addition of sour cream will make this bread moist and tangy.

Another sweeter bread that will fill your house with a tantalizing cinnamon fragrance is cinnamon apple pie bread as suggested by Ashley at Wishes and Dishes.

The recipe calls for Granny Smith apples along with some white sugar, light brown sugar and cinnamon to increase the sweetness — plus a pinch of nutmeg or cloves to bring in some spicy notes.

Wishes and Dishes

Which bread recipe will you try baking up first?