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Traditional Irish Soda Bread (Brown Bread)- My Mammies recipe for brown bread. This whole wheat bread is nutritious and fast to make.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread (Brown Bread)

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Hi Bold Bakers!

In Ireland, we are extremely fortunate to have access to some of the best produce in the world, from butter, eggs, oats and much more. I was very lucky to have an incredible Mum who showed me how to cook. She made everything from scratch every day. For a family of seven, that’s pretty incredible. 

My mum says one of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to teach them how to cook. This is one of the main reasons why I’m here today. With my mum’s permission, I’m allowed to share her recipe for Traditional Irish Soda Bread with you. 

Traditional Irish Soda Bread has a particular look, but do you know what it is? The marking on top is a cross. It comes from blessing the bread before baking. Also you poke a hole in each corner of the loaf to release the fairies that can curse your bread if not released. 

A few notes about Buttermilk : Buttermilk is a must in this recipe and can’t be left out. The main reason is the buttermilk chemically reacts with the baking soda to make the bread rise. The buttermilk adds lovely flavor to your bread. Some people worry about tasting the acid buttermilk but once it’s bake you can’t taste it at all. If you can’t buy buttermilk, the next best things is you can make it. You can find my easy Buttermilk Substitute recipe as a great addition to this recipe and many others.

Tips for a perfect loaf of Soda Bread: Start out by mixing your bread dough in a large bowl so you have space to mix your dough, which will reduce the chances of you over-mixing and toughening your bread. 

Always level your teaspoon of baking soda before adding it to your ingredients. There are two very good reasons for this that can make or break your bread: 1): Too much baking soda will tint your bread green! Seriously, it gives your bread a greenish hue on the inside. Worse than that; 2) Too much baking soda can give your bread a very acidic taste which can be quite unpleasant, so remember less is more with the baking soda. 

For the whole wheat flour, I like to keep mine fresh in the freezer because I don’t use it as often as white flour. The oils in the flour can turn rancid over time so just freeze it and use it when you’re in need.

For a beautiful, crispy crust refrain from opening the door while baking. I know how tempting it is but believe me your bread won’t burn. It’s not going anywhere and it will be worth it when you take out a beautiful loaf of bread with a thick crust.

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread is made in homes everyday all over Ireland. It has a beautiful crust, a close crumb and a lovely wheat flavor.

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Irish Soda Bread doesn’t require yeast and no resting so it is incredibly fast to whip up. And the faster you make it the better the bread will be. It is what’s considered a quick bread.

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4.46 from 122 votes
Traditional Irish Soda Bread (Brown Bread)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
Servings: 8
Calories: 183 kcal
Author: Patricia Stafford
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups (265g/ 9oz) whole wheat flour (fine or coarsely ground)
  • 1 3/4 cups (265g/9oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (30g/1oz) butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cups (400ml) buttermilk*
  • 1 tablespoons oats
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (215°C).
  2. Mix together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. In a separate jug, whisk the egg and buttermilk together (see note on how to make Buttermilk below)
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid, 3/4 at once, into the flour mixture.

  5. Using an open hand bring the flour and liquid together to a loose dough. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky. You will know then if it needs more of the liquids. (Flour in different places reacts differently to added liquid).
  6. Turn onto a floured work surface and gently bring the dough together into a round about 1 1/2 inches (4cm) thick (8 inches by 8 inches) .
  7. Place on a baking sheet dusted well with flour
  8. Score the bread by blessing it with a deep cross on top. Poke a hole in the 4 corners of the bread to release the fairies and stop them from cursing your beautiful bread.
  9. Glaze the bread with the leftover bit of buttermilk in your jug and dust the top with rolled oats.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.
Recipe Notes

6 SmarPoints
5 PointsPlus Points

*For every Cup of Buttermilk needed mix 1 cup of regular milk with 2 tablespoons of Lemon juice or white vinegar. Mix and let it stand for a minimum of 30 minutes before using.

Nutrition Facts
Traditional Irish Soda Bread (Brown Bread)
Amount Per Serving (8 g)
Calories 183 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 583mg 24%
Total Carbohydrates 28g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 7g 14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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396 Comments

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  1. Aileen on May 29, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    I just came across your website and I’m excited to try out loads of recipes!
    You’ve inspired me! I’ll have to make some soda bread for the weekend!
    Just one question about the soda bread – my granny and aunts never put eggs in their soda bread, but all the other ingredients are the same – does the egg or lack of egg change the bread significantly?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 30, 2019 at 1:32 am

      Hi Aileen,

      Welcome to my site. Glad you are with us. So egg is a richness thing but I often don’t use it. If you leave it out that is totally fine. you won’t need to add anything else.

      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

  2. Kendall Stark on March 19, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Hi, Gemma. I was really looking forward to making this bread! I got everything measured properly, but after pouring in the buttermilk/egg mixture, the resulting batter was more like a thick paste. I tried adding in more flour, but knew that if I kept mixing the bread would come out tough. So, I threw it all out. I even watched your video at least 5 times and saw that you hadn’t used all your liquid, and neither did I. Could one and two-thirds cups be too much? Any tips would be helpful, since I want to give this another go.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 22, 2019 at 6:04 am

      Hi Kendall,
      Oh dear! I am so sorry that this happened for you! I hate that you threw it out too! If you have a sticky dough you can bake it in a loaf pan, just scrape it in, we have some recipes which call for this too.
      Flour in different places behaves in different ways, depending on how, where, when, and even the type of wheat being milled. It absorbs liquids differently too, depending on humidity, temperature etc. It is much easier to add more than to take some out! So, next time stop when the dough comes together into a clean ball. This is what you want. Add 3/4 of the liquids in one go, then the remainder more slowly, until the dough comes together. That is the secret! I hope this makes sense to you. Do not give up!
      Apologies for the delay in response, I have added this note to the recipe now, I hope that this will help,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Jon Enge on March 19, 2019 at 2:15 am

    I love this! Thank you so much! I had to add a little more flour both times I’ve made it as I added too much wet too fast but we did Corned beef with veg and I whipped up this soda bread to go with and it was a huge success!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2019 at 11:03 am

      I’m delighted to hear that!

  4. Bjpickens on March 18, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    I made this on St Patrick’s Day to go with my homemade Butter. It came out pretty and delicious. I did add about 3 tbsp. Sugar to the dough mix and some oatmeal to the top.
    Next time I will try with GF flour! I love Gemma’s recipes.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      YUM, let me know how you go with the gluten free version!

  5. James Rook on March 18, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I tried this recipe 3 times now thinking I made a mistake. Measured exactly 265 grams of AP flour and 265 grams of course wholemeal and 400 ml of buttermilk along with the rest of the ingredients. The dough was extremely sticky and more like a batter. Baked it anyway but the loaf is very dense to say the least. The second try was the same but substituted bread flour for the AP. Same results so I added more wholemeal to get the dough somewhat drier. Very, very dense loaf. Baking the 3rd attempt now. Again followed the recipe exactly, weighing everything precisely thinking I may have made a mistake. Same results, a heavy, extremely sticky batter, not a dough at all. I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong here?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 22, 2019 at 6:02 am

      Hi James,
      This is a constant issue here, some people have no difficulty, others big issues. Flour in different places behaves in different ways, depending on how, where, when, and even the type of wheat being milled. It absorbs liquids differently too, depending on humidity, temperature etc. It is much easier to add more than to take some out! So, next time stop when the dough comes together into a clean ball. This is what you want. Add 3/4 of the liquids in one go, then the remainder more slowly, until the dough comes together. That is the secret! I hope this makes sense to you. Do not give up!
      I must also apologize for the delay in response, dealing with some tech issues here at BBB,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Aileen on May 29, 2019 at 12:49 pm

        Hi Gemma,
        I’ve heard that baking soda can lose it’s effectiveness over time – could this be causing some people’s bread to come out denser?

        • Gemma Stafford on May 30, 2019 at 1:28 am

          That is a good point. What happens is once it is mixed with the buttermilk it then automatically activates. Then you have to get it into the oven as quick as you can.

          Dense bread more than lighty comes from over mixing the dough.
          Best,
          Gemma.

  6. Maria on March 18, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Hi. I hope that you are doing well. I wanted to ask you, can this soda bread dough be baked in a loaf pan? Will the texture differ? How much of the baking time increase/decrease? What about the floured surface for the pan? Does this recipe stay soft if not kept in an airtight container for a few hours?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      Hi, yes this can be baked in a loaf tin, it just might not have the nice crust on the bottom and sides you achieve by making it in a free form shape.

  7. KatMcG on March 18, 2019 at 8:56 am

    This is the best recipe I have used so far. In the past I think I over worked my dough and it didn’t rise or keep its shape like this. You’re method was extremely helpful. I did tweek it a bit (though it definitely doesn’t need it). The joy of cooking recommend adding sugar to increase crustyness and shelf life. I added 3 tbsp and it came out beautifully. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 18, 2019 at 11:28 am

      YUM, i love the addition of sugar to the crust, great job!

  8. Binaifer on March 18, 2019 at 12:42 am

    Hi Gemma,

    I love your blog and have tried many of your recipes. I tried the soda bread recipe and followed the instructions to the T. It seems to have baked through and also sounds hollow at the back. However it tastes a wee bit eggy. Any way around that?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 18, 2019 at 11:24 am

      Hi there, in not sure what would have caused that, was the bread fully cooked? I’m delighted to hear you like my recipes!

  9. Mary I. Pastrana on March 17, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Excellent I did mine Vegan, used coconut milk and 1 tbsp of Apple Cider vinegar

    • Gemma Stafford on March 18, 2019 at 11:32 am

      Wow, i love that, great idea!

  10. Vikki on March 17, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Not sure why my bread did. It rise at all. Any ideas? Recipe was easy and taste good tho.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 17, 2019 at 5:03 am

      Hi Vikki,
      I think you did not get the ingredients right! The ingredients which matter here are the Bicarbonate of soda, and the buttermilk. You can make your own buttermilk sub (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/homemade-buttermilk/). If you do not have either buttermilk or bicarbonate of soda, you can substitute with 2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder (secret), and fresh milk.
      I hope this helps, do try again,
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Kristina P. on March 16, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Hi Gemma, would it be okay to put some raisins in this bread? Never had Irish Soda Bread without raisins or currents baked in. Plan on making tonight, thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 16, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Hi Kristina,

      Absolutely add in 3-4 tablespoons of raisins and around 2 tablespoons of sugar. When you do then that bread is called ‘spotted dog’.

      Happy Baking,
      Gemma.

  12. Binu on March 15, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Hello, I made this with whole wheat flour and poppy seeds. Came out great! I love how simple n easy it’s to make bread. Planning to have with homemade strawberry jam& butter. 😋😋

    • Gemma Stafford on March 16, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Binu, I cannot imagine anything nicer than this! The taste of home for me, thank you for the reminder <3
      Gemma 🙂

  13. Brenda Pickens on March 14, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Gemma, can this Irish Soda Bread be made with Gluten Free Flour that is equal proportion to regular flour?
    Also, can I add sugar and currants for a slightly sweeter bread?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 15, 2019 at 3:01 am

      Hi Brenda,
      yes, you can do this. Use a GF flour which has xanthan gum added and knead it to bring it together. We generally handle soda bread gently, so as not to over develop the gluten, but gf flours need to be worked a bit to get then to maintain the structure of the bread.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  14. SaraS on March 9, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    I made this bread on Thursday. Used fresh ingredients, and mixed together quickly. Reminded me of a giant scone. It looked and smelled amazing. However, the bread tasted a bit metallic. I double checked the recipe, made a second loaf. Same thing happened. Is this because of the baking soda in the bread without the addition of sugar or spices to mask the taste? I was careful to weight the ingredients as you have listed. This was the first recipe of yours that I had any trouble with making. Perhaps this is supposed to taste like this and I’m just not used to soda breads. Thank you! I enjoy your youtube channel immensely.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 11, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Sara,

      So this is a great comment. The taste you are referring to is yes, the baking soda. Yes, this is how soda bread tastes but it shouldn’t be really strong. Yes always use modest, level teaspoons of baking soda because if you use too much you can get that taste which I agree it’s not very nice.

      Less is more when it comes to baking soda.

      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

      • Sara Strohmeyer on March 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm

        Thanks, Gemma! I will try again. It really did turn out beautifully.

        • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2019 at 3:58 pm

          Please do let me know how you go, my pleasure!

  15. Elegant on March 7, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Hi Gemma
    I would like to try your side bread recipe. However, for a healthy bread can I use spelt, millet, quinoa or Kamut flour instead of wheat or white flour? Thanks 🙏

    • Gemma Stafford on March 7, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      Hi,

      Yes you can try different flours but just note you might not get the same results as I did. If you are going to add a different flour just add a little bit so it doesn’t become too heavy.

      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

  16. Sheryl McGrail on March 5, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I’m husband loves Irish Soda bread with raisins. Can I just add raisins to this recipe?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 5, 2019 at 8:27 pm

      Yes Sheryl add in some raisins and around 2 tablespoons of white sugar also.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  17. Izzy on March 5, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    love this

    • Gemma Stafford on March 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      Thank you!

  18. Rachel on February 24, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Gemma. Is this bread simular to sour dough bread? If I wanted to make this dairy free can I swap the butter for oil and add an acid to non-dairy milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 25, 2019 at 9:33 am

      Hi, you can make it non-dairy but it is not the same flavor of sourdough.

  19. kiply on February 21, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    I tried this just today and couldnt get it to come out. Followed the recipe to a tee, but all i ended up with was a thick paste that had to go in the trash :'(
    not sure what i did wrong but would like to know so as to successfully bake it next time

    • Gemma Stafford on February 24, 2019 at 1:18 am

      Hi Kiply,
      sounds like you over wet the ingredients! You could actually bake it like that too, pour it into a buttered loaf pan and bake, it will take a little longer but you would know when it is done.
      Next time, add the liquids until the dough comes together in a clean ball, a soft dough. Flour in different places behaves in different ways, according to how, where and even when it is milled. How it absorbs liquids varies, even at different times of year. So, 3/4 of the liquid in one go, then the remainder until the dough comes together in a clean ball, then stop! That will do it for you,
      Gemma 🙂

      • kiply on February 25, 2019 at 7:23 pm

        thank you so much! i’ll have to give it another go this weekend, here’s hoping for the best! 🙂

        • Gemma Stafford on February 26, 2019 at 10:56 am

          Please do, keep me posted!

  20. Diana on February 6, 2019 at 7:32 am

    I loved this video thanks! I’m making traditional irish soda bread for 200 girl scouts. Could you tell me if I could use all white flour in this recipe have you tried before? Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Hi, yes you can use 100% white flour.

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