The No Oven Challenge has enticed us to be creative with ingredients, methods and equipment. Members have shared breads cooked by frying, stove-top and charcoal grilling, make-shift wood fire, and steam. Lessons to be learned all around, but success, none the less!
My entry is a steamed brown bread, similar to those served in Boston and the eastern seaboard. It's whole grain - graham flour and cornmeal, leavened by baking soda, moistened with tangy yogurt, sweetened and deeply colored by molasses and a little brown sugar. Add-ins included dates and fresh cranberries.
I opted to use my slow-cooker for counter-top steaming - it rarely gets used, and would require less watching than would a pot on the stove-top. I added water to the cooker and turned it on 'high', dropped in a few mason jar rings to allow water to circulate evenly, and allowed it to heat as I was assembling ingredients. The batter came together easily and was spooned into a greased 1-qt casserole (pretested to fit into the cooker's crock), covered tightly with aluminum foil, tied with string and set into the hot crock.
The water level was adjusted to between half and 2/3 the height of the casserole. I left it to steam for nearly 4 hours. Once out and still sealed,I left it to cool for 10 minutes before removing the foil and turning it out onto a rack to cool. It had filled the casserole to the brim, but was cooked through. It was a deep caramel brown with fruit peeking through to the surface.
Sliced for serving revealed a coarse, yet moist, cake-like texture, dotted generously with fruit. We enjoyed a few slices for dessert, warmed and spread with butter. Not overly sweet, brown bread's charm is in its texture and a wholesome comforting quality. The dates provided a sweet touch that was brightly offset by the cranberries. I'm looking forward to toasting some for breakfast.
The recipe I used was fudged from one I found online from Yankee Magazine's December 27, 2015 issue, "Granny's Homemade Brown Bread". I adapted it to use ingredients I had on hand and reduced the quantities to fill my 1 qt. casserole, rather than the specified 2 qt. mold:
Original Ingredients (my substitution):
1 c graham flour (3/4 c)
1 c rye flour (omitted)
1 c yellow cornmeal (3/4 c)
1-1/2 tsp baking soda (3/4 tsp)
1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp)
3/4 c molasses (3/8 c)
(1/4 c brown sugar)
2 c sour cream (1 c nonfat yogurt)
1 c sultanas or raisins (1 c chopped dates and whole fresh cranberries)
unsalted butter ( to grease the mold)
I felt the bread may need to be sweetened to blend with the dates and offset the sharpness of the cranberries. I would do that again. I would also add nuts - pecans - but then it begins to take on a fruitcake connotation, which wouldn't bother me one bit. I would use the sour cream or full fat yogurt. The bread was moist, but it could be richer with a bit of fat. Of course, when covered in butter, it probably matters little.