Food & dining

Recipe for old-fashioned brown bread

Jonathan Levitt for The Boston Globe

Makes 1 large loaf

Author Sandra Oliver was sent this 100-year-old recipe by Donald Marsh of Holden, Maine. He found it in “The Maine Jubilee Cookbook,” submitted by Melvina W. Johnson of Gorham, Maine. In “Maine Home Cooking” Oliver writes that in past times, bread crumbs were used to thicken sauces and substituted for flour in some baked goods. This recipe uses bread crumbs, cornmeal, and a little flour.

Butter (for the pan)
¾cup to 1½ cups sour milk or buttermilk
cup sugar
¼cup molasses
½cup cornmeal
4slices stale bread, torn
into small pieces
3tablespoons flour
1teaspoon baking powder
1teaspoon baking soda
½teaspoon salt
½cup dark raisins

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Bring a teakettle of water to a boil. Generously butter a 1-pound
coffee can or an 8½-by-4½-by-
2½-inch loaf pan. Butter a sheet of foil large enough to cover the can or loaf pan.

2. In a bowl, combine ¾ cup sour milk or buttermilk, sugar, molasses, cornmeal, and bread. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.


3. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them.

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4. Stir the bread mixture. If it is dry rather than dough-like stiff, add more milk.

5. Add the flour mixture to the bread mixture with the raisins. Stir to combine, and spoon the batter into the can or pan. Place the foil, buttered side down, on the top. Firmly seal the edges of the foil and tie with kitchen twine, if you like.

6. Place the can or pan in the middle of a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the can or loaf pan. Transfer to the oven. Cook the bread for 2½ to 3 hours or until it is firm to the touch and cooked through. It is done when it pulls away from the sides, and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Add more water to the pan, if necessary.

7. Let the bread cool in the can or loaf pan. Turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into thick slices. Adapted from “Maine Home Cooking”