Friday, January 10, 2014

Boston Brown Bread

I'm in a very odd place. I've never wanted anything that wasn't an athletic goal this badly. Actually, upon further reflection, it's possible that I wanted to get into MIT for grad school this badly. Part of that was because I knew that Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge was where I needed to be to make my rowing dreams come true. Part of me still wonders where I would be now if I had gone to UW and Pocock instead... but I digress. I've been burning the candle on both ends and fighting hard against my mind's stupid anxiety and ADD to prepare for my upcoming interview. One thing I really have going for me is that the ADD quiets down as I get tired so it becomes easier to concentrate (this translates into fewer blog posts, sorry guys!) However this only works until the point when exhaustion makes me hysterically nervous. Anyways, I will face this interview unprepared over my dead body. Just like training, pain now leads to perfection in less than 2 weeks. (Ok, the turn around time is a week bit different than in sport.) The irony of it all is that 7 years ago I was at CMU holding my breath while waiting to hear if there was a position for me at MIT and now I'm at MIT anxiously awaiting a decision from CMU.

Anyways, today I'm sharing my favorite Boston brown bread recipe and surprise! It's not my own! I fell in love with Boston brown bread when I first tried it at a local bakery here in Boston. The moist, slightly sweet bread with a hearty texture immediately stole my heart. Not wanting to pay $8 every time I wanted a loaf, I went home from that bakery and found this vegan Boston brown bread recipe online. It was wonderful, so I felt no need to tweak it to make it mine! My only alteration is to add 1/4c walnuts and raisins (tossed in the dry ingredients before the wet are added) because my first taste of this sweet manna included those two additions. (Ok, ok. I also use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 1/2c whole wheat flour instead of the wheat/ all purpose combo, and omit the maple syrup. Oh and I also add 1/2t cinnamon.) I serve it warm with a buttery topping or peanut butter, although the tradition Boston serving suggestion is with cream cheese. I frequently make a peanut butter sandwich with it and take it as a snack on my long rides. Traditionally, this bread was cooked in an old coffee can, "hobo" style over a fire. The circular loaf can be achieved in the oven using a well-greased metal coffee can, leaving about an inch above the batter for expansion and cooking the loaf for 70 minutes instead of 60. (Warning: your oven will get dirty and you will set off the first alarm if you do not leave this expansion space!)

Instead of a picture of the brown bread, I'll leave you with one of my favorite baking pictures. Confession: I should have taken a picture of the brown bread, because for the first time, I did bake it in the traditional "hobo" style, using a coffee can so that the pieces came out circular instead of square. However, I procrastinated and then the bread was consumed too quickly! Despite my negligence, I'm sure you will enjoy this Boston brown bread.

My brother and I baking Christmas cookies circa 2001. (Nooo! I just realized that I didn't make cut-outs this year! AND I forgot to take out my Christmas dishes too. Sigh, better luck next year.)

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