Brown bread is the traditional accompaniment to baked beans, a true New England favorite. This loaf is cooked by steaming. To rig up a steamer, add 2 inches of water to a large pot; then place a brick or tin can in the center of the pot and set an empty 23-ounce coffee can (or 7- to 8-cup cylindrical mold) on top of it. Cover the pot tightly, and check it every 30 minutes to make sure there’s still plenty of water at the bottom.
Start to Finish Time:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and sultanas, if you like, and stir to form a smooth batter.
Butter the mold thickly and add batter (to about one-third of the way). Cover the pan with buttered foil and tie it in place with a string.
Place the mold in a steamer pot over 2 inches of rapidly boiling water (you’ll need to add more water as it cooks). Cover and cook 2-3 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean.
Unmold on a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm, slathered with butter.