Clambake volunteers steam their brown breads at home to contribute to the bake. This recipe, very interesting in its substitution of oatmeal for the traditional rye meal, is from the late Marjorie Macomber of Acushnet. Folklorist Kathy Neustadt recorded this recipe while she was compiling her definitive book, Clambake: A History and Celebration of an American Tradition (University of Massachusetts Press, 1992). It is used here with her permission.

One 46-ounce tomato juice can works well with this volume of batter, as do four 13-ounce coconut milk cans, coffee cans or a whole flock of baking powder tins (cute!). Just fill up each greased mold to about the two-thirds mark, cover, and steam until the surface looks dry and a wooden skewer poked into the bread emerges clean

  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 1½ cup milk (or water)
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (4½ ounces) jonnycake meal (or yellow corn meal)
  • 1 cup (3½ ounces) rolled oats

(Dry run: to be sure you have enough room for the molds, set up a large steaming pot with a rack and insert the can or cans you intend to use before you start cooking.)

Grease the insides of the cans. Set the pot on to boil with at least an inch of water, more if you have clearance.

Stir together the molasses and milk (or water).

Thoroughly combine the dry ingredients. Add to the molasses mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Pour into molds, twothirds full.

Cover tops of molds with foil, flattening it against the outsides of the cans.

Carefully lower cans onto steaming rack. (Use oven mitts—steam can cause serious burns!)

Remember to check the water level after half an hour. The breads will take from 45 minutes to 80 minutes, depending on their size. When steamed through, the breads should be removed and set on a rack to cool a bit. Usually, they can be coaxed out of their cans with a long thin knife. Occasionally, you may need to wield a can opener, remove the bottom of the can, and then shove through a recalcitrant loaf.

Makes 16 portions.

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