Date & Nut Bread Baked in Cans

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Because the result is so moist, baking and/or steaming bread in cans is an old-fashioned tradition people still ask about. Two readers–Sandra S. and Mary S.– requested this recipe they remembered seeing in the ChicagoTribune 43 years ago. We’ve adapted it to include instructions from an earlier, 1953 recipe that suggests covering the tops of the cans with a greased baking sheet.

Makes 5, 12-ounce-can loaves


  • 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


  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.

17 thoughts on “Date & Nut Bread Baked in Cans

  1. Does the inside of the can have to be made of a certain metal or free of anything[coatings]? We don’t like raisins, can you suggest anything else?

  2. I am so very glad to find this recipe. My Mother and Aunt use to make this every Christmas when I was a child. ( a very long time ago) I did not have a recipe and have thought about it many times.
    So thanks for sharing and I will be making my own for the holidays.

  3. My mother made what she called beer can bread. Unfortunately all those recipes, along with the copies that I had, have been lost. My younger sister wouldn’t remember most of them and wont have copies. I’ve been trying to find them. Mom made hers in the tin beer cans. I think they were the 12 oz cans. I also don’t remember anything but nuts. I do know that they were very delicious. This gives me a great gift idea for my neighbors.

  4. Thanks so much. This IS my mom’s recipe that she made every year. She would never use the baking sheet on top, though, and the tops would puff up. I loved the tops the best as they would be the biggest slice and a bit crunchy.

    Everyone would get a loaf of her bread for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She also made a great fig jam, homemade raspberry jam made from raspberries that she grew herself, homemade yogurt, baklava and many other great recipes — She worked a full-time demanding job for over 70 years and was a single mother. She filled her kitchen with love and good food, inviting people inside to share a meal — impropmtu.. no RSVP’s needed. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: September 8 – National Date-Nut Bread Day

  6. I remember sitting at the kitchen table as a kid helping my “gram” chop the dates.she sometimes added dried chopped apricots So glad I found this lost treasure. thanks for posting this recipe

  7. Remember this from childhood. Mom loved this. She is 87 and I’m going to make this for her and friends for Christmas presents! So glad I was able to find this recipe!

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