Letter Re: How to Bake Over Boiling Water

Saturday, Dec 3, 2005

Here is how to bake bread over boiling water:  Get wide mouth pint mason jars, or empty cans all the same height, and grease them with shortening. ( Oil will make a more gummy texture but is fine to use also.) Many cans have little ridges in the center and make it much harder to get the final breads out.
Set the jars in a pan and fill with water to 2/3 of the jar height. Jam in enough empty jars if necessary so they don't tip. Or stones, anything. They must fit snugly and not fall over. Bring water to a boil.
Make batter. Typical yeast dough bread recipe needs 10-12 pint jars 1/3 full of dough. (For bread, you need the jars out of the water, fill them 1/3 full and let rise. Or use the quick recipe which may use twice as much yeast. Then put them back in the dry pot and add hot water. )
For cake mix, cornbread, muffins, etc, with about 2 cups of dry ingredients, use 4-5 jars half full.
Cover loosely with clear plastic wrap or a Baggie, rubber band around the top. You need air to escape as it cooks but steam to stay out. For long term prepping, maybe aluminum foil would be better, or lids greased underneath placed loosely on the top.
Cover the pot. Bread and cake will take maybe 45 minutes, heavier corn bread will take an hour. Overcooking is not a problem for the most part. Try and keep the water level up, if you can boil water in another pot and add it, if necessary. This recipe is very "forgiving."  You can make the batter and put it in cold jars in cold water and then put the whole thing over a fire, and start timing it when the water gets hot.
Slide out for pint size loaves of bread.
You can make smaller cakes or muffins, just fill jars 1/4 full of batter for one cup sized results.
Try some butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in the bottom of the jar, and mix raisins in the bread dough. Fill 1/4 of the jar or a little less. This makes nice survival cinnamon rolls.
The bread will not have a crust, but you can slice it and toast it in a pan or over a fire.
Remind your children that many early settlers cooked this way. Boston Brown Bread was a popular dish made by early New Englanders to eat with Boston Baked beans.

Here is one recipe for Boston Brown Bread:
2 c. whole wheat flour( or 1 c whole wheat and 1 c rye)
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. raisins (optional.)
2 c. buttermilk, room temp.( or just use milk from that powered milk in the preps pile)
3/4 c. molasses ( or honey)
Generously grease 2 (1 pound) coffee cans or 3 (1 lb.) vegetable or fruit cans; set aside. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Add raisins, if desired. Toss to separate and coat with flour mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk and molasses. Stir into flour mixture only until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn into prepared cans, filling evenly. Cover cans tightly with 2 layers of foil; tie with string. Place a rack in a large kettle. Place cans on rack. Place kettle over low heat. Add boiling water until halfway up cans. Cover; bring water to a gentle boil. Steam bread 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Add more boiling water during steaming, if necessary. Carefully remove bread from cans. Cool on racks at least 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 2 or 3 small loaves. 


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