What is Brown Bread?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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Brown bread typically refers to any type of bread that is dark or brown in color, rather than white breads, though there are also a few specific types of bread that are referred to as brown breads. This includes an American bread commonly called Boston bread, as well as a version of Irish soda bread that is fairly dark in color. Brown bread typically includes whole wheat flour that has not been bleached, which often provides the darker color for the bread, though some breads include syrup or molasses for added flavor and darker coloration.

In general, brown bread tends to refer to any bread that is brown or dark in color, not only on the outside but inside as well. This is usually caused by the use of whole wheat flour or wheat germ that does not fade or lose its dark tone when used in baking. The use of such flour often provides a deeper flavor to the bread, as well as a number of nutrients that can be lost when flour is processed. Many people prefer brown bread due to this added nutritional value, though the stronger flavor also causes many people to prefer such bread.


One of the most common types of brown bread is one made in America, often referred to as Boston bread. The name stems from the location in which the bread was first made and rose to prominent use. This bread is typically made using whole wheat flour, or a combination of flours that are often used in breads referred to as “thirded” breads due to the flour consisting of one-third whole wheat flour, one-third rye flour, and one-third corn meal. Boston brown bread often uses baking soda for leavening, rather than yeast, and is usually steamed in a cylindrical can, rather than dry-baked in a pan.

There is also a brown bread version of Irish soda bread made using whole wheat flour and may be flavored with molasses. This type of brown bread is often quite simple and considered a “quick bread” since it does not require excessive time for preparation or rising. It is usually made with baking soda and buttermilk for airiness, rather than yeast, and can often be prepared and baked in about an hour. Some Irish soda bread recipes call for dried fruit, such as raisins, to be added.


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Post 3

@serenesurface-- As far as I know, all rye breads are considered brown breads although the ratio of rye flour might be important. If a bread is made with a high ratio of brown flour such as whole wheat flour or rye flour, then it's brown bread.

Pumpernickle is made completely with rye flour. I think some are also made with rye berries which is why the bread is very dark. The pumpernickle breads I've seen were the same color as chocolate!

Post 2

Is pumpernickle bread considered brown bread? If color is all that matters for a bread to be 'brown bread', then it must be right?

Post 1

Brown bread is the best. It has more nutrients than white bread and more fiber as well. So it has a lower glycemic index, meaning that it increases blood sugar more slowly. The fiber makes the bread more filling and it's rich in B vitamins as well.

I like to eat whole wheat bread with grains. It does cost more but at least I know that I'm eating something that's beneficial for me. White bread is unhealthy because in order to make the flour white, it has to go through a lot of processing. And the processing removes not only the fiber but the nutrients and vitamins as well.

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