Sourdough Boston Brown Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Among old cookbooks and across the internet one can find many recipes for Rye and Indian bread, Boston brown bread, or as it is sometimes called, thirded bread (because equal quantities of rye, wheat, and corn meals are used.) The final ratio of flours and quantities of ingredients depended upon what was available in the marketplace, the cost of each grain, the size of your covered cooker, and the number of people you wished to feed. The coarseness of the flour did not vary much; whole grains went to the miller, and unless you were exceptionally wealthy, unsieved, coarsely ground rye, wheat, and corn, with their bran and germ included, is what you took home. This is my variation. This bread is delicious with baked beans or a cup of dark coffee.

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature or warm
2 tablespoons active rye or wheat sourdough starter

1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup whole rye flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup raisins

In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, milk, and sourdough starter together. Add the molasses and butter. Mix well to combine.

Add the rye flour, wheat flour, cornmeal, and salt, stirring until a smooth dough forms, then fold in the raisins.

Cover the bowl with a wet towel or plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10-inch Dutch oven well with butter or spray. You can also use a similar-size baking dish with a tight lid or a heavy cast-iron pot with a lid. The lid is important, as this bread is steamed.

Pour the dough into the prepared Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Bake for about 90 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean and the top of the bread shows cracks.

Let the bread rest in the Dutch oven for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Reprinted with permission from Sourdough Culture by Eric Pallant, Agate, September 2021.