Using a Dutch Over is the weirdest way to bake bread, in the context of having an actual oven. I acknowledge the historical significance—how cast iron pots pre-date electrical or gas oven technology; I can appreciate how when camping, a Dutch oven would be a cool trick—the romance, even, of baking fresh bread over a fire. Here in my kitchen, though, boiling water in kettle in which I have immersed a bread pan which barely fits (so I also used my cast iron skillet and cake pan with the remaining batter), and covering the bread to steam rather than to bake—seemed like superfluous effort for baking a simple loaf of whole wheat, dark flour quick bread. Here’s me looking skeptical early into the project.
Boston Brown Bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (just for greasing pans)
1 cup cornmeal, stone-ground
1 cup rye flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
¾ cup molasses (dark)
- Grease two 8 ½ by 4 inch baking pans as well as the tin foil to cover them (traditionally done in coffee cans, but who has those anymore?)
- Fit a standing mixer with a paddle attachment (don’t have one of those! I will be using a good ole’ wooden spoon, which was my mother’s favorite paddle… no hard feelings, Ma) and combine all dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until blended. With the machine still on low speed, slowly pour in buttermilk and molasses and mix until fully combined.
- Set each loaf in a Dutch Oven or in a Roasting pan and fill each vessel with enough water to reach halfway up the side of each loaf pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Check the water level every 30 minutes to make sure the water still reaches halfway up the sides of the loaf pans. Cook until a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean, about 2 hours.
Finally, the bread looked “done” and we tested it out. Spongey. If instead of sea sponges there were backyard mud puddle sponges, this is exactly what I would expect backyard mud puddle sponges to taste like. I give it 1 star, to be nice. Eck. And it looks ugly as sin. I realize why I was unable to search the recipe online and had to type it verbatim from the cookbook—no one cooks this because it a ton of effort, and resembles poop on a stick in texture and taste. Never. Again.