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.
- 5, clean, empty soup cans (15 ounce)
- 1 cup (8-ounce pkg) diced dates
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 Tbsp soft butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Place dates and raisins in bowl. Add soda and boiling water. Cover and let stand.
- 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.
- Generously grease cans, being very careful not to cut yourself on top of can.
- 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.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until bread tests done.
- Slice thin and serve with whipped cream cheese made by whipping a few tablespoons of milk with cream cheese.
Thank you for posting the recipe.
It is wonderful, and tastes delicious.
Trying this for Thanksgiving!
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 ❗️
Wow! Conratulations on your win! I have a separate recipe for Boston Brown Bread–also exceptionally good, that is included with my baked beans recipe. Try that one too! Cheers from Monica
https://lostrecipesfound.com/boston-baked-beans-brown-bread/ Here is the recipes for true Boston Brown Bread–also baked in a can, and sooooo good!
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.
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
Thank you for posting this recipe. Used to buy this at the grocery store and loved it! Miss it so much.
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
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.
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.
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.
What a great story! You really must send me a snapshot of the cans (!) So cool!
Here’s a Dropbox link to an image of the cans from several years ago.
It’s almost that time of year to bring ’em out again.
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!
Here’s another link showing them in action. Two batches down, one to go.
That is how we make pumpkin loaves. We chunk the fresh pumpkin, boil it and when soft remove the skins, saving the remaining flesh.
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!
So pleased you like it : ) Happy New Year! Monica
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 ????
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?
…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!
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?
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!
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!
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!
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
I don’t know which sauce your grandma made…but I imagine these would be great drizzled with a brown-butter glaze…or, you can try my butter-rum sauce! Here is that: https://lostrecipesfound.com/rum-cake/
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!
Fun! I’m glad it worked out : )
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.
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
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…
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?
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
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.
How will leaving out the raisins impact the recipe?
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 : )
I will be a novice at making this bread. How do you get the bread out of the can with the can ridges intact?
Hi! Copious greasing on the inside of the can! Hope it works out for you. –Monica