Brown bread

Brown bread

Brown bread
Type Bread
Main ingredients Whole grain flour (usually rye or wheat) or molasses or coffee
Food energy
(per serving)
260 kcal (1089 kJ)
  Media: Brown bread

Brown bread is a designation often given to breads made with significant amounts of whole grain flour, usually wheat, and sometimes dark-coloured ingredients such as molasses or coffee. In Canada and the United Kingdom it simply refers to wholemeal or whole wheat bread, except in the Maritimes, where it implies bread made with molasses.

Whole wheat flours that contain raw wheat germ, instead of toasted germ, have higher levels of glutathione, and thus are said to result in lower loaf volumes.[1]


Crust of a brown bread

In Ireland, during the Famine, prior to 1848, brown bread was handed out to the poor.[2] In England, brown bread was made from brown meal.[3] Around and prior to the year 1845, brown meal was considered a less desirable grain product, and was priced accordingly. However, by 1865, due to recently discovered health benefits of bran, brown meal's London price had increased to a point often greater than that of fine flour.[4]

Flour milling

Chocolate-coloured sourdough bread

Historically, brown meal was what remained after about 90% of the coarse, outer bran and 74% of pure endosperm or fine flour was removed from the whole grain.[5] Using slightly different extraction numbers, brown meal, representing 20% of the whole grain, was itself composed of about 15% fine bran and 85% white flour.[6] In 1848 it was asserted grain millers knew only of bran and endosperm,[7] but by 1912 it was more widely known that brown meal included the germ.[3]


The brown colour of whole grain breads is caused by cerealine, a discovery attributed to M. Mège Mouriès of France.[5][8] Cerealine, considered by Mouriès an active principal or ferment similar in action to diastase,[8] came from the cereal layer of rectangular cells that millers considered a part of bran: later it was alternatively called the aleurone layer.[9] In a statement attributed to Mouriès, if the cerealine is neutralized, white bread can be made from bran-containing flour.[5]

Regional varieties

Home-made Irish brown soda bread
Zeppelinwurst with brown bread

Irish brown bread

Irish wheaten bread is a form of Irish soda bread made with whole-wheat flour.

Ideal brown bread

Ideal brown bread was made from brown meal, yeast, salt, and water.[10]

Boston brown bread

New England or Boston brown bread is a type of dark, slightly sweet steamed bread (usually a quick bread) popular in New England. It is cooked by steam in a can, or cylindrical pan.

Boston brown bread's colour comes from a mixture of flours, usually a mix of several of the following: cornmeal, rye, whole wheat, graham flour, and from the addition of sweeteners like molasses and maple syrup. Leavening most often comes from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) though a few recipes use yeast. Raisins are often added. The batter is poured into a can, and steamed in a kettle. While most variations are quick breads, and can be made in less than an hour, several commercial brands are available. Brown bread is somewhat seasonal, being served mostly in fall and winter, and is frequently served with baked beans.

Brown bread is closely related to an earlier bread known as "Rye n Injun" (from "Indian" cornmeal) or "thirded" bread from its use of rye, cornmeal and wheat flours. Unlike modern Boston brown bread, thirded bread is generally yeast-raised and baked rather than steamed.

See also


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  3. ^ a b
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  5. ^ a b c
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  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
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External links

  • Fannie Farmer 1918 recipe for brown bread
  • Recipe for brown bread
  • Epicurious recipe for Irish brown bread