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These dense, moist, delicious lowfat breads feature whole grains and natural sweetness. They keep well and make great gifts. They can be prepared in less than 1 hour using a pressure cooker, or steamed on the stove or left to mind themselves in your handy crockpot.
Use a trivet or rack to keep the bread away from the bottom of the pot. You can use crumpled foil, but round racks in all sizes are available in cake decorating departments in hobby and kitchen stores. Always remove bread from the mold while still warm. Some folks dry the steamed loaves in the oven for 15 minutes after steaming.
On the stove top, Place on trivet in deep kettle. Add enough boiling water to the kettle to come half way up sides of mold; cover kettle. Steam 3 1/2 hr.,- test with a skewer. The middle will be moist but NOT sticky when done.
In the crockpot, place cans on trivet or metal rack in bottom of slow cooker and pour about 2 cups of hot water around cans Come 1/2`up the side of the mold). Cover pot and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, using the longer time for a single deeper mold. Remove cans from pot and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Turn bread out on cooling rack while it is still warm.
To use a pressure cooker, put a rack in the bottom, add the mold, pour hat water up the side, then lock. Bring to heat, cook 45 minutes. Cool cooker under running water, open. Remove immediately, dry in the oven about 15 minutes, then cool 5-10 minutes and remove.
To bake in the regular oven, use a recipe that has some eggs or fat to make up for the moisture lost by not steaming. Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a loaf pan, 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 3/4 inches. Bake 1 1/2 hours, covering with foil the last 20 minutes to prevent overbrowning.
Boston Brown Bread
1 cup unsifted whole wheat flour
Mix and sift dry ingredients, sprinkle in the fruit. Mix molasses and milk. Stir wet and dry until well mixed, spread in the buttered mold and smooth the top.
You can substitute 1 or 2 beaten eggs or some soft butter or oil for part of the buttermilk if you keep the total volume at 2 cups. Not traditional, but a nice variation. I have also used part applesauce for 1/4 of the liquid.
For cooking, see "Steaming Bread", above.
Apricot Nut or Date Nut Bread, Steamed
1 1/2 cups dried apricots or dates
1-2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon mace
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (part brown)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger (for apricots) or fresh grated orange peel
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
Chop the apricots or dates and walnuts fine, dust with a little of the flour, set aside. Mix remaining flour, mace, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together. Beat together milk, eggs, orange peel or ginger, and oil. Add to flour mixture alternating with whole wheat flour. Mix well. Fold in apricots or dates and walnuts. Mix well. Divide mixture evenly into two well greased and floured 1 lb coffee cans, cover tightly with foil. Place into large crockpot, set on high, pour in 3 cups hot water, cover with lid and steam on high for 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours. Don't peek before 2 hours.
For alternate cooking, see "Steaming Bread", above.