Boston Brown Bread

This sweet, raisin-dotted quick bread is traditionally made in an empty coffee can and steamed in a water bath. We worry about the jagged metal edges and boiling water, so we decided to bake it in a loaf pan and omit the water bath. And lucky for us, our kid testers preferred it that way. It’s especially delicious sliced thin and spread with cream cheese.

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Hands-on time: 20   |    Total time: 70   |    Makes: 1 Loaf


Loaf pan
Aluminum foil
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Large bowl
Large spoon
Small bowl
Pot holders
Cooling rack


1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1⁄2 cup whole-wheat flour
3⁄4 cup yellow cornmeal
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup molasses
3⁄4 cup raisins


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your equipment and ingredients and put them on a counter.

  1. Lightly oil the loaf pan and the aluminum foil by spreading the oil around with your clean hand or a paper towel. Turn the oven on and set the heat to 325 degrees.
  2. Put the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda in the large bowl and mix well.
  3. Put the buttermilk and molasses in the small bowl and mix well.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the raisins and mix again.
  5. Pour the mixture into the pan. Using the aluminum foil, make a tent above the pan. Squeeze all the edges tight so that no steam can escape while it’s baking (the steam will help cook the bread and keep it soft).
  6. Once the oven temperature has reached 325 degrees, put the pan in the oven and bake until the top is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool on the cooling rack about 10 minutes, then put the plate on top of the pan and turn the pan over so that the bread ends up on the plate.
  7. Serve right away, or set aside to cool and then cover with plastic wrap and wrap for gifting.


Make it nutty: Add 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts when you add the raisins.
Make it fruity: Substitute 1/2 the raisins with dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots.