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Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. with free, timed tickets required.

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Learn More >
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CREATE Food Blog: “Would You Like That in the Can?”

Boston Mountain Brown Bread. Round loaf sliced.

Boston Mountain Brown Bread

The old adage is not true.  Man—or Woman for that matter—CAN live on bread alone; especially if it’s of the brown variety that comes from a can.

New England or Boston brown bread is a dark, rich, slightly sweet bread that is cooked by steam in a tall can.  Historically, the end product is composed of a mixture of flours that give it a notable brown color. These include, but are not limited to cornmeal, rye, graham flour, and whole wheat.  The slightly sweet flavor profiles come from the careful addition of either maple syrup, honey, or molasses; and the leavening is never generated from yeast, but via the addition of baking soda.


Chef Melody Lane of Crystal Bridges devised her own “High South” version of this archetype bread by using Arkansas molasses from the Bentonville Farmers’ Market, along with her own combination of pumpernickel flour and fine corn meal from War Eagle Meal.  “I like golden raisins because they aren’t noticeable, and they’re like little disguised morsels of soft sweetness…” she contends poetically with curly locks of red hair framing her face.  And yes, with just a whisper of flour gracing the tip of her nose.


She also spent the better part of a day looking for just the right size, shape, and style of can to bake the brilliant brown bread in, before finally discovering just what she needed at the local Walmart store in the way of large Pork and Beans cans.  The fragrant, stylized bread emerged from the oven warm and in a perfectly cylindrical shape, beckoning to delicate bowls of creamed sorghum butter and Beer Cheese Dippity Do Dah spread (see below for recipe).  Chef Melody’s Boston Mountain Brown Bread will undoubtedly have you enthusiastically answering, “Why, yes; I’ll gladly take that in the can…”


bowl of orange dip accompanied by a glass filled with celery sticks

Beer dippity do dah


Beer Cheese Dippity Do Dah


  •         2 cups mild cheddar, coarsely grated, room temperature
  •         2 cups sharp cheddar, coarsely grated, room temperature
  •         2 garlic cloves, minced
  •         2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  •         1 teaspoon mustard powder
  •         1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  •         1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  •         Pinch of cayenne pepper
  •         6 ounces Leinenkugel’s OKTOBERFEST Beer, room temperature
  •         2 teaspoons finely chopped chives


  1.    Pulse cheeses and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the Worcestershire, mustard powder, hot sauce, salt, and cayenne and pulse until well combined. With motor running, slowly add beer and pulse until mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  2.    Transfer to serving bowl. Top with chives.
  3.    Can be made 2 days ahead. Place in an airtight container in refrigerator. Before serving, bring to room temperature.



Boston (Mountain) Brown Bread


  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda (stirred into flour)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups pumpernickel flour
  • 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cups all-purpose baking flour
  • 1 cup raisins (plumped)



Combine all ingredients in bowl.  Stir gently until combined, but not overly mixed. Butter and flour five baked-bean cans. Fill each can 3/4 full with batter. Place cans on sheet pan, then cover with another sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove top pan. Bake for additional 10 minutes. Once toothpick is cleanly removed from the bread, carefully remove cans from the oven; then remove bread from cans while still hot. Ever so carefullyㄧand I mean very carefullyㄧuse a knife around the edges to gently pry out.  Slather with butter and/or cream cheese – Devour!


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