Having scored myself an antique Boston beanpot, this weekend I'm going to spend the day slow-cooking Boston baked beans and steaming a loaf of New England brown bread to go with it. (I'm assigned to the work on-call pager that day, so I'll be stuck in the house with time to slow-cook.) I've been looking into the history of New England brown bread, such as it is, and one question I can't seem to find an answer for is: why is it steamed in a can? You could use a glass cooking bowl or some other dish to cook it, so why did they steam it in a can? Was it convenient to use a spare storage can to steam the bread?