The Simple Joy of A Snow Day (Recipe: Boston Brown Bread)

Brown Bread with Teapot

Hello All:

A winter storm is brewing outside my kitchen window as I write to you. Glorious white snowflakes transform otherwise brown and dark fields into a winter wonderland. Amazing. I am struck by the simplicity of the fresh snow—it is there for the viewing now but later today gleeful children will use it to create snowmen while others will strap on their skis to sail along trails through the local forests. Oh so simple.

The simplest things in life are often the best—this Boston Brown Bread is a New England classic from way back. Maple syrup mixes in with buttermilk and an assortment of whole grain flours to come together as a bold and delightful bread—a simple canvas for you to create a meal around. Traditionally eaten with baked beans, we have eaten our bread in many ways. Last night it was a savory addition to a dinner of roasted chicken and fresh green salad. This morning, we spread some cream cheese and mixed berry jam on top to enjoy it with fruit and coffee. Still later today, we plan to have it with herbal tea. Try it. Make it your own.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.



Yield: 2 Small Loaves

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Butter and parchment paper for the baking pans
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup corn meal, preferably stone ground
  • ½ cup semolina flour **
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup real maple syrup (or molasses, or a mixture of the two)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 
  2. Butter 2 loaf pans, 9 by 5 each. Line the pans with unbleached parchment paper. Butter again. (This is a very sticky bread. The parchment paper will assure it does not stick to the pan and will make cleanup easier.)
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt and baking powder.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, mix together the buttermilk and maple syrup.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flours. Pour the buttermilk/maple syrup mixture into the well then stir just until mixed. This is a wet, loose batter, not a dough.
  6. Pour or spoon into the prepared baking pans.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on racks for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
  9. This bread is best eaten warm. If you are not going to eat it right away. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you want to eat it. Warm it in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 minutes just before serving.
  10. Enjoy.

**Note:  You will need 3 cups flour total. You can choose any flours you like. These happen to be the flours I prefer. Using an all-purpose flour will lighten your bread. For a heavier loaf, decrease the all-purpose flour to ½ cup and increase the whole wheat flour to 1 ½ cups.

This recipe was adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.