Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Boston Brown Bread

by Jeff Gordinier

Yield 2 coffee-can-size loaves, or 1 standard loaf

Bread that slides out of a can? It might strike many Americans as a dubious culinary eccentricity, but throughout New England it is a staple, often purchased at the supermarket and served at home with a generous pour of baked beans. “I had this growing up,” said Meghan Thompson, the pastry chef at Townsman, in Boston, where the cylindrical brown tower comes to the table as something of a regional wink. Her version, commissioned by the chef Matt Jennings, dials down the cloying sweetness and amps up the flavor with a totally different manifestation of beans: doenjang, the funky Korean paste made from fermented soybeans.

Featured in: Giving Northern Cuisine Its Due.

Blackstrap Molasses, Buttermilk, Doenjang, Rye Flour, New England

Nonstick cooking spray
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons/70 grams white rye flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/140 grams stone-ground whole wheat flour
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons/70 grams dark rye flour
1 cup/142 grams fine-ground cornmeal
1 cup/198 grams lightly packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon/3 grams baking powder
2 teaspoons/11 grams baking soda
½ teaspoon/3 grams kosher salt
1 tablespoon/16 grams doenjang (Korean soybean paste)
2 cups/480 milliliters buttermilk
½ cup/120 milliliters egg whites (from 4 to 5 large eggs)
¾ cup (scant)/169 milliliters blackstrap molasses


Heat oven to 350 degrees and generously coat the insides of 2 10-ounce coffee cans or a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Place the white rye flour in a large skillet over medium heat and toast, whisking constantly, for 7 minutes. The flour will darken slightly and smell nutty.
Whisk the flours, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the doenjang and buttermilk until combined; set aside. With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with 1 tablespoon of the molasses until stiff, silky peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk the remaining molasses into the buttermilk mixture. Gradually stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until combined. Fold in the whipped egg whites in 2 additions.
Pour batter into the prepared cans or loaf pan. Coat pieces of foil with cooking spray, then cover the tops of the cans or pan securely. Set the cans or pan in a baking dish and add enough hot water to come about 1/4 inch up the side. Transfer to oven and bake until the top springs back when lightly touched, about 1 hour 40 minutes for the cans, or 2 hours for the loaf pan. Let cool 20 minutes on a wire rack, then invert and remove the bread to a cutting board. Let cool completely before slicing.