Grandmother's Steamed Brown Bread, small batch

Sunday 7 June 2020

For as long as I can remember and beyond Saturday night suppers back home in Nova Scotia and indeed all down the Eastern part of Canada and the US, Saturday night baked bean suppers have been the tradition.

In fact, during non-covid days, Baked Bean Suppers have always been huge fund raisers for local communities, volunteer fire departments, schools, etc.  People have always loved them.

Back where I come from Baked Beans are not humble, they are precious and speak of family, tradition and community spirit. Baked Bean Suppers, with home baked beans, ham or hotdogs, scalloped potatoes and steamed brown bread, or sometimes molasses oatmeal bread, or baking powder biscuits, or even corn bread.  These are knit into very the fibre of every maritimer.

Brown Bread is probably the most basic traditional bread served with baked beans.  Back home you can buy it in cans, baked and ready to re-heat by steaming.  Or you can make your own, which is very easy.

I had not made Brown Bread in years.  Most of all because there are only two of us in our home now. You can't get the big coffee cans I used to steam it in over here in the UK, and to be honest most tin cans here are not the right kind. They have an extra lip  on the upper side, which prevents you from just slipping things you bake/steam in them out.

It was something I was craving today however  . . .  a Baked Bean Supper . . .  and I wanted Brown Bread with it and so I decided to take my old recipe and cut it in half to make a smaller batch.

I was really pleased with the results!  It turned out beautifully!  I used a 3 1/2 cup pudding basin (Mason Cash) to steam it in.  I steamed it in the top part of my double boiler/steamer.

No, its not the traditional shape that you will usually see Brown Bread being  . . .  but the taste is all there.  The texture is all there.  The smell is all there  . . .

I didn't have any hotdogs to enjoy with it and my baked beans, but I did have some Cumberland Sausage wheels that I thought would work just as well . . .  they did.

Just look at that beautiful texure.  This was amazingly delicious  . . .

Especially spread with some cold butter  . . .  the richness of butter, melting down into that beautiful bread . . .

Rich and moreish, studded with little sticky raisins, perfect with the baked beans  . . .  it doesn't get much better than this . . .

Grandmother's Steamed Brown Bread

Grandmother's Steamed Brown Bread

Yield: Makes 1 small loaf
Brown bread traditionally has been served with baked beans all up and down the East Coast of North America.  This is a delicious whole grain loaf, studded with raisins, that you steam.  This is a small batch recipe.


  • 70g whole wheat flour (1/2 cup)
  • 70g rye flour (1/2 cup)
  • 85g cornmeal (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 85g molasses (3 fluid ounces)
  • 120g sour cream (1 cup)
  • 75g sultanas or raisins (1/2 cup)
  • a knob of butter to butter the pudding basin


  1. Have ready a large double boiler/steamer, fitted with a basket and a lid.  Fill the bottom with boiling water and keep warm.  Butter a 3 1/2 to 4 cup cylindrical mold or pudding basin well. Pleat a sheet of aluminium foil, large enough to cover the basin and set aside.
  2. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Stir in the raisins. Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine well.
  3. Spoon into the pudding basin/mold to come 2/3 of the way up the bowl. Cover it with the buttered foil, butter side down and seal the edges around the boil. Tie it with some string.
  4. Place into the steamer pot and cover tightly with a lid.  Steam for 2 to 3 hours, topping up the pan with water as needed. When done a toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Unmold onto a plate and serve warm, slathered with butter.  Delicious!
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #EnglishKitchen
Created using The Recipes Generator

Scalloped Potatoes on the side made this meal complete.  The only thing missing was my mother's Green Tomato Chow and a slab of Lemon Meringue Pie.   


  1. Isn't it wonderful to think about favourite meals from your childhood or when your children were young? Even better is being able to replicate them. I would like to make the brown bread but I would have to buy the rye flour and wheat flour. Will do that soon. One of my favourite meals from childhood was a spaghetti casserole my Mom made with canned tomatoes and lots of cheddar cheese. It was always served with a salad and garlic bread. It was delicious with that crusty cheese topping. We had a picnic supper outside yesterday evening - hamburgers, potato salad and potato chips. It was lovely to hear the birds chirping away and watch the squirrels fighting over the bird seed. Then, it turned quite cool so we didn't linger too long outside. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes, Marie. Hugs and love, Elaine

    1. Oh that casserole sounds really great Elaine. I often wonder if our taste memories can ever truly be replicated or if perhaps we always remember them with the rose coloured glasses of our hearts. Your evening sounds nice. Its been cold, wet and windy here. Love and hugs always, xoxo

  2. The bread looks delicious. Did you use canned baked beans or did you make your own? This is making me hungry!

    1. I like to make my own Lizzie. The baked beans over here in cans are nothing to write home about. They don't do Boston Baked, only Heinz type in tomato sauce. I use the recipe off the package of dried beans like my mom always did. The bread is fabulous! xoxo

  3. Oh gosh there is nothing that evokes childhood Saturday night meals like Boston baked beans and brown bread. We had the big old brown crock for the baking the beans in a slow oven, and my beloved grandmother used an old coffee can, covered with tinfoil as she called it, tied with kitchen string, to steam it. Wonderful, misty memory. I shall try this, Marie. Love brown bread. Blessings.

    1. Blessings to you also Katy! Mom had a big old brown crock for baking her beans also. Sadly it developed a crack a number of years back and was never replaced. Loved reading your sweet memory! xoxo

  4. That looks just beautiful! I loved those rare treats of canned B&M Brown bread when I was growing up. We would slice off pieces as they were pushed out of the can, toast them up and slather them with butter. So good. Definitely trying this out soon!

    1. I even like it cold and spread with softened butter Kelly. I am a glutton through and through. xoxo

  5. This looks so good. I've never had brown bread like this. Now I think I must!

    1. I really think you must also Jeanie! It is right up there with cold bean sandwiches! xoxo


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you so do not be shy!

Did you make the recipe as directed? Recipe results are not guaranteed when changes have been made.

Is this comment helpful to other readers? Rude or hateful comments will not be approved. Remember that this website is run by a real person.

Are you here to complain about ads? Please keep in mind that I develop these recipes and provide them to you for free. Advertising helps to defray my cost of doing so, and allows me to continue to post regular fresh content.

Thanks so much for your understanding! I appreciate you!