Boston brown bread


Where can I find a bread mold in which to steam my Boston Brown Bread? I used to use a one pound coffee can but coffee comes in smaller sizes now and my batter won't fit. Besides, today's coffee cans have the ridged sides that make turning the bread out a nightmare!

badge posted by: cpiszczek on January 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm in Q & A
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reply by: Naughtysquirrel on January 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Corning Ware made a round pyrexy thing years ago - you can pick one up on ebay pretty easily...NS

reply by: Mike Nolan on January 31, 2011 at 9:41 pm
Mike Nolan

I've done Boston Brown Bread in a fluted ring mold, you just have to make sure the batter fits (a bit under 4 cups for the recipe I used, a half recipe of: and that the water isn't so deep it spill into the ring mold.

The fluted mold made for a very pretty bread. If I made it very often, I'd probably want to buy a 2 quart pudding mold.

I use the same ring mold to make flan.

I also have a cylindrical stainless steel kitchen implement caddy that I bought for about $10 at Bed Bath & Beyond that I've used to bake bread in several times, it would probably work for Boston Brown Bread, too, though I'm not sure it is food grade stainless steel. But then again, many metal coffee cans used lead solder on the seams.

When I bake bread in it, I line it with parchment paper.

Another possibility would be a borosilicate glass beaker, I think a 1000 ML beaker (about 4.25 cups) would be pretty close in capacity to a one pound coffee can. Scientific supply houses have them for about $11.

reply by: PaddyL on February 01, 2011 at 12:58 am

I used soup or juice cans the one time I made Boston Brown Bread. Thanks for reminding me, must try it again now!

reply by: carolinorygun on February 01, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Years ago (and I do mean years), King Arthur sold a borosilicate glass steamer with little handles on the side. I still have it, but of course I haven't seen one like it for ages.

You could use other borosilicate canisters. It's lab glass, which means it's good to, say, 900+ degrees, and being glass very sanitary. I don't see any reason why that wouldn't work, though you wouldn't want to apply the lid. Just use the regular parchment or aluminum foil.

Another option is to enter a search on ebay for a nut loaf tin. Generally they're from Australia or New Zealand, but occasionally you find one stateside.

I have some, so I know they're out there. You bake with them standing up on a tray and then pull off both ends to slide the loaf out. The newer ones are nonstick and very cool, made in Portugal.

Why they're not available in the U.S. I don't know. King Arthur is mising an opportunity here.


reply by: Mike Nolan on February 01, 2011 at 3:30 pm
Mike Nolan

Carol, the one picture I could find of a nut loaf tin looked similar to 'canape bread' pans, and appears to be roughly the same size as well.

Nut loaf tin:

Canape pan:

Given that they're open on both ends, would that work for steaming a Boston Brown Bread?

reply by: carolinorygun on February 02, 2011 at 4:05 pm

The nut loaf tins come in varying sizes, and if you find one listed online (I got one from California and also have some from New Zealand) the larger ones are roughly equivalent in volume to a standard 8 1/2x4 quick bread loaf. Mine are the larger size. I didn't check which sizes are offered on ebay currently, just wanted to show the general design.

Using American measures, mine are 3 1/4x8 and one old one is 3 1/4x 6 3/4.

But some old ones are quite "fat" and make even larger loaves and some not only have removable end pieces but also unclip along the side seam, which makes removal very easy.

Of course the Norpro pans aren't cylinders but a heart, a spade and a flower, so the issue is reduced volume and a much bigger challenge in terms of greasing and removal. I have no idea how to calculate the volume to compare.

I think part of it is I find old pans really interesting. I'm by no means a collector, but it says something about how American cooking has changed. I have an old Diamond Walnut recipe pamphlet of my mother's and it shows a date nut loaf made in that same kind of pan. I have seen on ebay old American steamer molds. Some even have little isinglass "windows" on one end so you can see how far the loaf has risen.

So it seems in the late 19th and early 20th century this kind of pan was available stateside. I call it the "Boston Brown Bread era."

A search online also shows them used for brioche and even a "Jewish Apple Cake."

One reason I got interested is because I was getting contradictory information about the food safety of baking in cans.


reply by: Mike Nolan on February 02, 2011 at 4:13 pm
Mike Nolan

OK, but how do you steam something in them, if they're not water-tight on the bottom?

I'm a collector myself, I have a fairly large collection of depression glass. My wife has well over 200 pieces of Fiesta, which we use on a regular basis.

reply by: carolinorygun on February 03, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I normally wouldn't "steam" in this type of tin per se. Since the nut loaf tin is closed on both ends, even baking yields a pretty moist product.

For true steaming, I'd use my KAF glass steamer, which is open only on the top. However, that's not very helpful since it's no longer available.

I'd probably just do what I do with cheesecakes in a bain marie. I got tired of fighting with foil wrapped around the springform to keep out the moisture, which is subject to failure (and wasteful of foil). Now I use a small oven roasting bag and tie it up around the sides. That would work just as well for an open-ended tin.

Those oven-roasting bags are handier than I'd first imagined. Great for that and also great for blind-baking. Put your beans or weights in the bag, place it in the crust and then just lift the whole thing out when it's time. It's a lot less messy than fiddling with parchment.