In Ireland, during the Famine, prior to 1848, brown bread was handed out to the poor. In England, brown bread was made from brown meal. Around and prior to the year 1845, brown meal was considered a less desirable grain product, and was priced accordingly. However, by 1865, due to recently discovered health benefits of bran, brown meal's London price had increased to a point often greater than that of fine flour.
Historically, brown meal was what remained after about 90% of the coarse, outer bran and 74% of pure endosperm or fine flour was removed from the whole grain. Using slightly different extraction numbers, brown meal, representing 20% of the whole grain, was itself composed of about 15% fine bran and 85% white flour. In 1848 it was asserted grain millers knew only of bran and endosperm, but by 1912 it was more widely known that brown meal included the germ.
The brown colour of whole grain breads is caused by cerealine, a discovery attributed to M. Mège Mouriès of France. Cerealine, considered by Mouriès an active principal or ferment similar in action to diastase, came from the cereal layer of rectangular cells that millers considered a part of bran: later it was alternatively called the aleurone layer. In a statement attributed to Mouriès, if the cerealine is neutralized, white bread can be made from bran-containing flour.
Ideal brown bread was made from brown meal, yeast, salt, and water.
New England brown bread
New England or Boston brown bread is a type of dark, slightly sweet steamed bread (usually a quick bread) popular in New England. It is cooked by steam in a can, or cylindrical pan.
Brown bread's colour comes from a mixture of flours, usually a mix of several of the following: cornmeal, wheat, whole wheat, graham flour, or rye, and from the addition of sweeteners like molasses and maple syrup. Leavening most often comes from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) though a few recipes use yeast. Raisins are often added. The batter is poured into a can, and steamed in a kettle. While most variations are quick breads, and can be made in less than an hour, several commercial brands are available. Brown bread is somewhat seasonal, being served mostly in fall and winter, and is frequently served with baked beans.
Brown bread is closely related to an earlier bread known as "Rye and Indian" (from "Indian" cornmeal) or "thirded" bread from its use of rye, cornmeal and wheat flours. Unlike modern brown bread, thirded bread is generally yeast-raised and baked rather than steamed.
^Paula I. Figoni (2010). How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. New York: Wiley. pp. 147–150. ISBN0-470-39267-3. Retrieved April 17, 2011. "Glutathione is also found in whole wheat flour, in particular in the wheat germ. ... Toasted wheat germ will not have the same high glutathione activity as raw wheat germ, since glutathione is inactivated by heat. ... If glutathione is not first destroyed, bread dough softens and becomes slack, and oven spring decreases. The result is lower loaf volume and coarser texture."
^John Saunders, ed. (1848). The People's journalIV. London: The People's Journal Office. p. 200. Retrieved April 15, 2011. "I passed along and beheld a dense mass of wretched starving people,---men, women, and children, gathered in front of a shed, from which rations of brown bread and stirabout were served out to the poor."
^ abPercy A. Amos (1912). Processes of flour manufacture. New York, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longman, Green, and Co. p. 14. Retrieved April 12, 2011. "By allowing the germ and all but the outer, coarser layers of broad bran to mix in with the flour, we get the sweet-tasting brown meal producing the brown bread so much in favour amongst sections of the community."
^ abcEdward Livingston Youmans (1859). The hand-book of household science. New York: D. Appleton and Company. p. 277. Retrieved April 15, 2011. "He grinds wheat so as to separate it into about 74 per cent. of fine flour, 16 of brown meal, and 10 of bran."
^Jacob Bell, ed. (1857-58). The Pharmaceutical journal and TransactionsXVII. London: John Churchill. pp. 276–277. Retrieved 2011 April 2011. "The Parisian white bread is prepared with the finest flour (1re marque), which does not contain any bran. If 100 parts wheat yield 70 parts of this flour, the remainder will consist of ten parts bran and 20 parts coarse brown meal, this latter consisting of three parts fine bran and 17 parts white flour."Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
^John Saunders, ed. (1848). The People's journalIV. London: The People's Journal Office. p. 42(IA1). Retrieved April 15, 2011. "Professor Johnston remarks that---"The grain of wheat consists of two parts, with which the miller is familiar---the inner grain and the skin that covers it. The inner grain gives the pure wheat flour; the skin when separated, forms the bran.""