Steamed Maple and Cranberry Brown Bread

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 8

Steaming breads is an old-school technique that produces a moist texture and deep flavors. Plus, if your oven is ever out of commission, it’s useful to know how to make stovetop bread. In the old days, breads were steamed inside empty coffee cans, but today a cake pan does just as well.


  • Butter for greasing
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz./110 g) stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz./110 g) whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz./70 g) rye flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g) dried cranberries


Generously butter a 9-inch (23-cm) cake pan. Make sure it will fit easily inside a wide, tall-sided pot with a lid.

In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal, whole-wheat flour, rye flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and maple syrup. Pour into the cornmeal mixture and beat just until combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Stir in the dried cranberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Set the pan on a wire rack in the bottom of a wide, deep pot with a tight-fitting lid, making sure it is centered and level. Add hot water to the pot to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Cover the pot and bring the water to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Steam, checking occasionally to be sure the water has not boiled off and adding more hot water as needed, until the bread is puffed, slightly firm to the touch and slightly moist, about 1 1/4 hours. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.

Carefully remove the hot pan from the water bath. Transfer to a wire rack and remove the foil. Let stand for a few minutes, then turn the bread out of the pan and let it cool slightly or completely. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. (750-g) loaf.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cook Good Food (Weldon Owen, 2014).

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