Brown bread is a designation often given to breads made with significant amounts of whole grain flour, usually rye
, 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 a 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.
In Ireland, during the Famine, prior to 1848, brown bread was handed out to the poor. In England, brown bread was made from brown meal. 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.
The brown colour of whole grain breads is caused by cerealine, a discovery attributed to M. Mège Mouriès of France. Cerealine, considered by Mouriès an active principal or ferment similar in action to diastase, came from the cereal layer of rectangular cells that millers considered a part of bran: later it was alternatively called the aleurone layer. In a statement attributed to Mouriès, if the cerealine is neutralized, white bread can be made from bran-containing flour
Irish brown bread
Irish wheaten bread is a form of Irish soda bread made with whole-wheat flour.
Ideal brown bread
Boston brown bread
New England or Boston brown bread is a type of dark, slightly sweet steamed bread popular in New England. It is cooked by steam in a can, or cylindrical pan.
Brown bread's colour comes from a mixture of flours, usually a mix of several of the following: cornmeal, wheat, whole wheat, graham flour, or rye, and from the addition of sweeteners like molasses and maple syrup
. Leavening most often comes from baking soda 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 and Indian" (from "Indian" cornmeal) or "thirded" bread from its use of rye, cornmeal and wheat flours. Unlike modern brown bread, thirded bread is generally yeast-raised and baked rather than steamed.