Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nostalgia Baked Up in a Coffee Can

So the other day I was at work and somehow the subject of brown bread came up.  I can not for the life of me remember how we got there but there we were.  The coworker I was talking to was unfamiliar with it and had to Google it to see what I was talking about.  But I grew up eating brown bread.  I remember always having a can or two around.  Usually we would have two, one with raisins and one without.  I always went for the one without raisins.

I hadn't thought about brown bread in years.  But once it was mentioned and I started to think about it again I needed to have some.  So I went to the store and there it was, right next to the baked beans.  I bought a can without raisins and went home to see if it was anything like I remembered.  I turned it out of the can and it came out in the shape of the can just like cranberry sauce.  And it was molasses-y and dense just liked I remembered.

But now I was an adult, who baked.  So I thought I would try my hand at making my own.  So I searched for a recipe and found one at Bon Appetit. And I even had most of the ingredients in the house to make it.  Even though you need three different flours and corn meal.  My brother helped me out there.  He bakes a lot of bread and so he has all sorts of flour on hand all the time and he let me use some of his rye flour so I wouldn't have to go buy a bag of flour I was probably only going to use once.

The next issue was that it is supposed to be baked in a coffee can.  If you want traditional.  But I don't
get coffee in a can.  And even if I went out and bought some in a can just for this they all have those little ridges around the edges now for the freshness seal to stick to instead of opening with a can opener.  So I thought I was going to be making brown bread muffins.  But again my brother came to my rescue.  He had apparently thought of making some himself at one time and saved coffee cans for that purpose but he had never used them so he gave them to me.

So I was all set.  I pulled out all the ingredients and buttered my coffee cans and was ready to go.  And I hit a small snag.  The instructions said to stir the milk with the next three ingredients.  Only there was no milk on the ingredients list.  Now I know I should read the instructions thoroughly before starting but I usually don't.  I just glance through it to see if I need any special equipment or to see if there is something out of the ordinary in there.  So I knew I was going to need twine to tie tin foil to the cans and a pan deep enough to bake them in a water bath and all of that.  But I had missed the milk issue.  (Should I have realized that something was missing?  Probably, since there were really no wet ingredients mentioned.  But it didn't occur to me at the time.)  So I went to Google to see if I could find out how much milk I needed.  And I found the same exact recipe at Epicurious, only this one had milk on the ingredients list.  Two cups of it.  Which was more milk than I had on hand.  So after a quick trip to the store I was ready to start.

batter is really thick
After that it was smooth sailing.  After heating the milk and next three ingredients in a sauce pan it was mostly just mixing.  The hardest parts were tying the tin foil over the tops of the cans and getting enough 'very hot' water in the pan to come three inches up the side of the coffee cans.

And then it was just a matter of waiting an hour and a half.  Although, after the fact, I was thinking that might have been a bit too long.  The bread wasn't burnt but everything above the water line was slightly dry.  So I would check it earlier next time.
tied up so it won't get away

But it was a little taste from my childhood when it was done.  Not quite the same as the store bought stuff of course but definitely brown bread.  With the molasses flavor, nice and dense, and the grainy texture you get from cornmeal.  The only difference was now I liked the one with the raisins in it better than the one without.  And I also tried it with cream cheese instead of butter and that was really good too.

The recipe makes two loaves and the bread doesn't last long so I will have to find someone to give a loaf to next time because it is a shame to let it go to waste.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads. See the other posts here.


Carole said...

How ingenious! Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Mae Travels said...

Quite an adventure! I haven't seen that canned brown bread in ages.
best... mae at

Beth F said...

Wow, one thing after another! I admire your perseverance. I remember that canned brown bread from my childhood. I think I would have just baked the bread in loaf pans. :)

Melynda Brown said...

I remember the little breads my mother use to get from the market that came in a can, I always loved it. I make my own, but I did not go to your lengths. Fun read, thank you.