Bread Box

Raisin Date Nut Bread Baked in a Can

December 29, 2016

Because the result is so moist, baking and/or steaming bread in cans is an old-fashioned tradition people still ask about. Initially, two readers–Sandra S. and Mary S.– requested this recipe they remembered seeing in the ChicagoTribune 47 years ago, and more requests have showed up since. We’ve adapted the recipe to include instructions from an earlier, 1953 recipe that suggests covering the tops of the cans with a greased baking sheet. Don’t use pull-top cans for this recipe–they have an extra ridge at the top of the opened can, so you’ll never get the bread out! Also, you’re supposed to copiously grease the inside of the cans before filling them. Be very careful. The top edge is very sharp, unless you use a “safety” can opener, that tucks the edge back down and under. Try swabbing the inside of the can with a papertowel wrapped around a thin spatula, or, wrapped around handle of a wooden spoon. For another, incredibly tasty old fashioned bread-baked-in-a-can, try our Boston Brown bread along with Boston Baked beans.

Raisin Date Nut Bread Baked in a Can
Yields 5
Baking or steaming bread in cans is an old-fashioned tradition that results in lovely, very-moist loaves.
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  1. 5, clean, empty soup cans (15 ounce)
  2. 1 cup (8-ounce pkg) diced dates
  3. 3/4 cup raisins
  4. 1 tsp baking soda
  5. 1 cup boiling water
  6. 2 Tbsp soft butter
  7. 1 cup sugar
  8. 1 tsp vanilla
  9. 1 egg
  10. 1 1/3 cups flour
  11. 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Place dates and raisins in bowl. Add soda and boiling water. Cover and let stand.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, then egg, and beat well. Add flour, mix until moistened. Pour in fruit mixture, including liquid, and pecans, and mix gently to prevent crushing the fruits.
  3. Generously grease cans, being very careful not to cut yourself on top of can.
  4. Turn dough into prepared cans, filling each 2/3 full with dough, pressing down with spoon. Place cans on a baking sheet and cover tops of cans with inverted, greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until bread tests done.
  6. Slice thin and serve with whipped cream cheese made by whipping a few tablespoons of milk with cream cheese.
Adapted from Chicago Tribune
Adapted from Chicago Tribune
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  • Reply Debbie Schlesinger February 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you for posting the recipe.
    It is wonderful, and tastes delicious.

    Debbie Schlesinger

    • Reply Diane November 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Trying this for Thanksgiving!

      • Reply Rar November 12, 2019 at 8:07 pm

        My Mom made these at holidays but we called it Boston Brown Bread — delicious ! I even entered this in a recipe contest many years ago and won first place for the bread category ❗️

  • Reply Sheri Haichert December 11, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe. Used to buy this at the grocery store and loved it! Miss it so much.

  • Reply Delinda December 19, 2017 at 12:35 am

    My gramma used to make this for the holidays! It was a special treat and the use of can was genius! But now usable cans are hard to find

  • Reply Patricia Piland December 20, 2017 at 5:46 am

    My mom made this every Christmas & gave it to folks with a tray of her homemade Christmas cookies. We always ate it with cream cheese on it. It’s delicious.

    • Reply Jeanbean14 July 26, 2019 at 3:44 am

      Mine too! Mom passed away and I’m making 4 cans of this for the reception after her memorial service. Unfortunately, I can’t find her recipe.

      We ate it with cream cheese, too. Mom made it at Christmas and for company anytime, and sometimes just to have available for breakfast and snacks. I also liked it warm with butter.

      I hope these taste like my mom made.

      One thing, my mom never covered the tops, and I’m glad. They end up with a rounded top that is extra sweet like a muffin top. It slices up into nice round pieces.

      • Reply Ed Tierney November 7, 2019 at 8:21 pm

        My Grandma Tierney made what we always called brown bread in Nehi Root Beer and Canada Dry Root Beer cans at Christmas. It is essentially this same recipe, although the recipe handed down forgoes the raisins and calls for finely chopped dates and walnuts. The circa-1953 cans were passed down to my Dad – and now to me. I still make a dozen or so “loaves” with the same 6 cans Grandma T used. The cans even still retain some of the factory labeling painted on the outside of the cans. The best part is eating the warm tops that hopefully spilled out over the top edge of the cans slightly during baking.

        • Reply Monica Rogers November 9, 2019 at 1:56 pm

          What a great story! You really must send me a snapshot of the cans (!) So cool!

  • Reply Walton Edward December 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    That is how we make pumpkin loaves. We chunk the fresh pumpkin, boil it and when soft remove the skins, saving the remaining flesh.

  • Reply Alana Botting December 27, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    I thought I would never find this recipe! Thank You! My Scotch Grandmother made this all the time when I was a kid 60 years ago we would just have butter on it with our tea! So So delicious!

    • Reply Monica Rogers January 1, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      So pleased you like it : ) Happy New Year! Monica

  • Reply Mary La Dahl December 30, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Yes this is the recipe I just found in my old box of stuff; fo the most perfect date nut recipe in a soup can. Add the cream cheese, delicious as the spread 😂

  • Reply MrsJDT February 18, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Yay! I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for years! Thank you! A Lebanese restaurant near where I grew up always serves little “sandwich cookies” of bread like this with a thick layer of cream cheese between two slices of bread. YUM!!!

    I’m not too keen on using aluminum cans to bake in though. Any alternate ideas?

    • Reply Monica Rogers March 19, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      …use a can not made of aluminum! Alot of them are NOT made with aluminum. Just test with a magnet: if it sticks to the can, it’s not aluminum. Also, look for cans that are BPA free. Good luck!

  • Reply Rick March 5, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I used to have a similar recipe to this but they were steamed in a boiling water bath or another version in a pressure cooker. I think they were called Susquehanna Nut Loaves. Anyone know of that?

  • Reply Barbara Stevens December 23, 2018 at 5:37 am

    I grew up with this date nut bread. My mother baked it in cans then cut it in half length wise, spread with cream cheese, then put back together and sliced lengthwise again and spread cream cheese on the other side. She wrapped bread in Saran Wrap and tied with curled ribbon for gift giving. When sliced the nut bread is crisscrossed with cream cheese filling. So pretty and so good!

  • Reply Carol May 2, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Such a good recipe. I love the look of something baked in cans, just so unique. I will be making these soon. So glad to have found this recipe!

    • Reply Monica Rogers May 2, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      I’m making these again today! Try the brown bread recipe, too, with the Boston baked beans! Also? I’m just perfecting an orange apricot bread baked in cans. Stay tuned!

  • Reply Patricia Roberts October 30, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    My grandma made these in Folger coffee cans bit she also made a sauce we dizzeled on it. Does anyone know what it was?? Would love the recipe

  • Reply Marcia November 7, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    My mom also used to make this bread.
    I couldn’t find cans without the BPA lining so I used ball jars. The straight sided pint jars worked great! I just set them on a sheet tray so they didn’t tip on the oven grates. Greased them like you would the cans and they came out perfectly!

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