Boston Brown Bread

Our modern take on Fannie Farmer’s classic recipe for steamed Boston brown bread includes currants for sweetness and a traditional loaf pan.

By Yankee Magazine

Sep 27 2015


Boston Brown Bread

Photo Credit : Julie Bidwell

The only changes we made to this classic recipe for Boston brown bread were to add dried currants for sweetness and to cook the dish in a common bread pan rather than the “well-buttered mould” that Farmer used. Of course, you may also use a large, buttered coffee can for your vessel, as many New Englanders like to do.

LEARN MORE:Fannie Farmer | New England’s Gifts


6 to 8 servings


Butter, for greasing the pan
1 cup rye flour
1 cup graham or whole-wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup dried currants
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 cup molasses


Generously grease a 9×5-inch bread pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the rye flour, graham flour, cornmeal, currants, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the buttermilk and molasses, and stir until combined. Pour into the prepared pan.

Butter a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the top and sides of the pan. Lay it over the pan, press down around the sides, and tie a piece of kitchen twine around the upper part of the pan to secure the foil.

Place the loaf pan in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bring to a boil; then cover and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer, checking the water level several times, until the loaf is cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean, about 3 hours.

Carefully remove the loaf from the pot, and remove the foil.

Cool for a few minutes; then invert onto a cooling rack. Let cool slightly before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature. It’s delicious toasted, with plenty of salted butter.