Recipe: Irish Brown Bread


Through Irish pubs in Boston and my 2 trips to Ireland, I developed a strong love for Irish Brown Bread. You can see and taste the rustic nature of the bread. So simple yet so delicious and satisfying.

On my last trip to Ireland (in 2007!) I scoured bookstores for cookbooks on Irish cooking, determined to learn more about their cuisine and excited to replicate some of the traditional dishes at home. I was, naturally, most interested in brown bread recipes. I ended up taking 3 cookbooks home with me!

Yesterday was rainy and chilly here, which always make me crave comfort food. I decided to make some Brown Bread. I also figure it is about time I share the recipe! You will not believe how easy it is!! 

I’m enjoying my second slice as I write! Perfect lightly toasted with a light smear of butter. I’m planning on having it again tonight along the Guinness Beef stew I will be making later today. Yum. Sometimes rainy days are a good thing.

Irish Brown Bread (Brown Soda Bread)

From Best of Irish Traditional Cooking book


450g/1lb/4 cups whole wheat flour

175 g/6oz/1 1/2 cups plain white flour

1 tsp (generous) baking soda

1 tsp salt

About 450 ml/15 fl oz/ (scant) 2 cups buttermilk)


L1000144Preheat oven to 400oF. The reaction of the baking soda and buttermilk is swift and the duration of their interaction short – speed is of the essence. Mix the flours, salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add only enough buttermilk to make a soft dough. Flour your hands and the work surface and knead lightly by hand (never with a machine) until the dough is smooth. It is important to understand that this is quite unlike making a yeast-risen dough. Shape into a circle about 4cm/1.5 inches deep. Take a sharp, well-floured knife and cut a deep cross in the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. To see if it is fully cooked test by tapping the bottom and listening for a hollow sound. Cool on a rack, or if you like a softer crust, wrapped in a linen or cotton tea-cloth.


  • It has been so dry here that I had to add an extra cup of buttermilk, and in hindsight realize I should have added more. So while you don’t want to add too much, the amount of buttermilk needed can vary tremendously! So go by your gut and keep adding until you get a nice dough.
  • I suggest using a fork to mix the flours to keep everything loose.
  • My bread turned out lighter in color than most brown breads since I used King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour, since it is what we had in the house. Still 100% whole wheat, just lighter in color and slightly less whole wheat tasting. The recipe works well with both this flour and regular whole wheat flour.
  • Your oven will probably take longer to preheat than it will to make the dough so be sure to get it heating up a bit before you start on the dough.
  • I baked my last loaf on a pizza stone and it came out great! Perhaps a slightly harder crust.
  • The recipe says eat the same day. It is delicious the same day, but I’m enjoying a slice right now (the next morning) and it is just as good. I left it wrapped in a tea towel overnight.
2 Responses to “Recipe: Irish Brown Bread”
  1. This sounds awesome. I love going on holiday and seeing Irish pubs everywhere.

    • Jeannie Carriere says:

      Thanks for the note. I think it is especially awesome because it is so easy! I took a peak at your blog too – lovely! Some things I want to try, I may start with the gingerbread. Yum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: