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
Lost Recipes Found

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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 Cordia February 9, 2021 at 10:41 pm

        This is the second time I’ve use your recipe. I’m extremely thrilled with it, the only difference is when we used to make it as a child in Spain, we would take the dates and the water and a little salt and we would boil it until the mixture became the color purple.

        Then mix it slowly into the flour and the creamed ingredients and bake it just as you said.

        I believe it changes the texture to a more smooth cake. At eating time I put cream cheese on each slice.

        Thank you so much for this recipe I was so glad to see it, it’s definitely the same recipe I used as a child I’m almost 70 now so it was certainly A great memory and the smell throughout my house reminded me of my childhood in Spain .

        Again and I say thank you.

        • Reply Monica Rogers February 11, 2021 at 7:24 pm

          I’m so pleased you are enjoying this recipe! I think the method you used as a child sounds perfect–I often soak dried fruits in boiling water before baking, and you are right: It makes for a moist result. Very best to you from Monica

  • 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 Mary Anne November 25, 2019 at 3:45 am

          That is sooooo cool! I
          remember my mom buying both B&M Boston brown bread and date but bread in the can. They were both great with cream cheese, but i especially loved the date nut. I could eat that without anything on it!!!
          You can still buy the brown bread ( at $15 for 2 cans) but unfortunately not the date nut.
          Thanks for sharing!

  • 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!

  • Reply Gayle Willard December 22, 2019 at 7:14 am

    I was looking for my lost date nut recipe made in soup cans and I came across this recipe and read the comments about the Chicago Tribune offering this recipe. Not only did I find the original recipe that I was looking for but I’m the one who tested this for the Chicago Tribune when I worked in the home economics department about 50 years ago. I guess that’s what you call a co-inky-dink. I remember mailing out scores of this recipe to readers writing and requesting it. Out of all the recipes we tested this was the finest but I’ve just misplaced it so thank you for publishing this.

    • Reply Monica Rogers January 18, 2020 at 6:03 pm

      Gayle! Wow! So glad to read your comment! I first did this story when I launched Lost Recipes Found as a column for the Chicago Tribune. Then, when things started shutting down there, with permission from the Trib and my editors, I took my Lost Recipes Found idea and research and it became this blog. Did you prefer the recipe where you top the cans with a greased baking sheet? Or without? Would love to meet up with you to talk recipes : ) Very best regards from Monica Kass Rogers

  • Reply Rosemary Dasco January 8, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Have been looking for this Date & Nut recipe in a Can. My Aunt would make at Christmas , so I Googled it, And thanks to You.. there it is. We used the Soup Cans that had the Gold lining.. Thanks Again…

  • Reply Penelope Carroll January 18, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Did no one else have a problem with getting 5 cans of bread out of this recipe? It seems unlikely that 1 1/3 C flour can be stretched to fill 5 cans 2/3 full…even with all the fruit and nuts….
    I looked at the accompanying brown bread recipe and it called for 3 1/3 C flours to make only two loaves.
    Is there a misprint or am I doing something dreadfully wrong?

    • Reply Monica Rogers January 18, 2020 at 5:59 pm

      Hello Penelope!
      The Raisin Date Nut Bread Baked in a Can recipe is correct. You use small soup cans for this recipe. The beautiful Boston Brown Bread, however, as specified in that recipe, is baked in very large cans: each six inches tall and 3 3/4 inches across. Did you bake either recipe? The Brown Bread is my absolute favorite. Enjoy. Monica Kass Rogers

      • Reply Penelope Carroll January 24, 2020 at 1:32 pm

        Yes, I baked the Date Nut Bread. It was delicious but I only got 3 shy cans…My cans were 15.5 Oz. So slightly larger but I wouldn’t think 2 cans worth. So I’m still puzzled as to why my volume was so much less than indicated by the recipe. I will definitely make it again. We loved it.
        I have not been ride the brown bread. I thought it said to use 11 to 13 Oz coffee cans…. so I guess I misinterpreted the 11-13 designation. I’m supposing that’s a can size, not an Oz volume. I do plan to try this bread too.
        Thank you for you swift response.

  • Reply Chera May 10, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    How will leaving out the raisins impact the recipe?

    • Reply Monica Rogers June 4, 2020 at 5:21 pm

      Hmmmm…not sure! Try it. But you should really try the Boston brown bread recipe, also baked in a can–sooooooo moist and good and no raisins : )

  • Reply Cheryl Koehler October 4, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    I will be a novice at making this bread. How do you get the bread out of the can with the can ridges intact?

    • Reply Monica Rogers October 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      Hi! Copious greasing on the inside of the can! Hope it works out for you. –Monica

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