Steamed Bread Recipe

Susan Belsinger shares this steamed bread recipe that uses thyme, pecans and molasses and bakes in a Bundt pan.

Make this old-fashioned steamed bread recipe, delicious with pecans and dry fruit.

Make this old-fashioned steamed bread recipe, delicious with pecans and dry fruit.

PHOTO: FOTOLIA/STEVEN MILLER

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Learn how to make this steamed bread recipe using thyme, pecans and molasses, perfect for any meal.

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Steamed Bread Recipe

Makes one Bundt-sized cake.

Marion Spear is a woman I met while giving a presentation in the Arkansas Ozarks. We became great friends, and I admire her for her down-home cooking. She cooks year-round on an old-fashioned wood stove, and she often makes bread by steaming it in a big pan on top. This is an age-old way of cooking bread without an oven, and Marion has perfected the process and come up with many variations over the years. Once the bread is a few days old, it works well for toast. Marion also will slice and dry the bread in a warm oven, then crumble it and eat it with milk, like cereal. Traditionally, this bread often was baked in cans, but a ring mold works well.

The basic recipe is below. You can add other chopped nuts like walnuts or almonds. Often raisins are added, but if you prefer, try dried cherries or other dried finely chopped fruits such as dates, prunes, apples, pears or apricots. When using dried fruits, dust lightly with flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom. Experiment with different herbs; this version uses thyme, but lemon thyme, cinnamon basil and marjoram all work very well. To make a savory loaf, try sage with onions. To clabber the milk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to it and stir.

1 cup unbleached flour or 1/2 cup unbleached flour with 1/2 cup bran
1 cup rye flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sorghum molasses
About 2 cups clabbered milk
1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup currants dusted with flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Bring water to boil and pour into pan or kettle large enough to hold ring mold or coffee cans. Use enough water to fill pan halfway. Oil inside of ring mold or coffee cans.

In bowl, combine flours, cornmeal, baking soda and salt, and stir. In another bowl, combine molasses and clabbered milk and stir to combine. Pour liquid ingredients into dry, along with thyme, and blend together. Stir in currants and nuts just to mix them in. Pour batter into oiled pan.

Place pan into larger pan or kettle with boiling water. Add enough water to come halfway up sides of ring mold or cans. Place plate or flat pan over top of ring mold or cover top of cans with foil. Put lid on pan or kettle and bring to slow boil. Steam bread for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It’s done when it’s springy to the touch and no longer sticky. Remove bread from hot water and cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully turn hot bread out of ring mold or cans and place on rack to cool. Slice and serve warm, plain or with butter or cream cheese. The bread should keep for about a week, and it also freezes very well.