Irish Brown Bread is a traditional soda bread recipe made with equal parts whole wheat flour and white flour. It has incredible flavor and texture and is so easy to throw together!
Irish brown bread is an ancient recipe that deserves a spot in your baking repertoire!
Soda breads are so much fun to make, especially if you’re a novice baker, because with just a bowl and a spoon you can have a satisfying bread in the oven in a matter of minutes. This hearty loaf makes a great breakfast or side to all sorts of meals. I’ve made classic soda bread with oat flour, and sometimes in scone form ~ all baking should be this easy!
what is the difference between Irish brown bread and Irish soda bread?
Irish brown bread is a traditional version of Irish soda bread made with part, or all, whole wheat flour. It gives this already-rustic bread an even heartier taste and texture, along with all the added health benefits of cooking with whole grains. I used a mixture of white and wheat flour here to keep the bread from becoming too dense.
how does soda bread work?
Soda breads are so simple to make because they require no yeast, no rising time, and no kneading. So how does that work? The simple combination of baking soda (a basic, high ph, ingredient) and buttermilk (an acidic, low ph, ingredient) combine to form carbon dioxide bubbles in the dough, which provide lift and structure to the bread as it bakes in the oven. It’s got a denser and crumblier texture than the yeast-risen breads most of us are used to eating, but it’s no less delicious and has a simple appeal that I love.
why do we cut a cross in the top of soda bread?
Technically the cross in the dough helps the bread cook through evenly in the oven. But the superstition in Ireland is that the cross lets the fairies escape and wards off evil!
what to serve with Irish brown bread
This versatile loaf can be eaten any time of day, here are just a few of my favorite ways to serve it.
- For breakfast, simply toasted and served with plenty of good butter and jam
- Alongside all sorts of soups and stews, whenever you might serve biscuits
- For a snack with thick slices of sharp white cheddar cheese and some slices of apple
- Round out a main dish like Dublin coddle or whiskey braised short ribs
Irish Brown Bread
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 450F.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the whole wheat and all purpose flours, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. With a spoon, or your hands, mix everything together until a sticky dough forms. You can add a small splash of extra liquid if your dough seems too dry.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it about 4-5 times until it a bit smoother and less sticky.
- Roughly shape the dough into a fat disk about 8 inches across. With a sharp knife, cut two slashes, about 1/4" deep, into the top of the loaf in the shape of an X. Transfer to a baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400F and bake for 15-20 more minutes. The bread should be puffed up, golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom when done.
- Allow to cool on a baking rack before slicing.
Questions and Reviews
I’ve made this twice and it’s so good and SO EASY! I usually hate baking, but I actually look forward to making this! Plus, if the bowl is big enough, you can knead in the bowl without getting another surface messy!
I know exactly what you mean. If you like this kind of baking you should try my beer bread, and Guinness bread, they’re the same kind of crazy easy recipes.
Followed the recipe to the letter but had a few problems.
First, the dough was too sticky and needed more flour.
Second, the dough wouldn’t rise despite 45 minutes of bake time.
May I know why?
My bread seems almost raw on the inside, I followed the recipe exactly. What could be the issue
It’s just a matter of cooking it more ~ ovens and temperatures vary quite a bit.
While the cross is necessary in this recipe, traditionally Irish people didn’t associate it with letting the fairies out. For them, it had Christian significance – it represented a crucifix.
This is incredibly good bread! And s-o-o-o easy! Ate some slathered with butter and some with Kerry Gold cheese. This is a real keeper!
Thanks for the super speedy review Joan ~ Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
Can you use bread flour instead of all purpose? Thanks
Yes, that will work.
I’ can’t have wheat can I make it with almond and or coconut flour?
I’m afraid those flours won’t provide enough structure for this bread Mary, sorry!