Irish Brown Soda Bread

By • December 21, 2010 • 26 Comments

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Author Notes: I realized I hadn't yet shared my favorite quick bread recipe of all: an Irish brown soda bread that my mother has made for years. Now, this is not the slightly sweet, raisin-studded bread you may be expecting. This soda bread is more rustic and hearty, and totally savory. It's made with a combination of white and whole wheat flour and oats, and toasted wheat germ gives the loaf a wonderful nutty depth. Buttermilk keeps the bread from being dry. I like thick slices of it smeared with lots of salted butter.Merrill Stubbs

Serves 8

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading and baking
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 degrees F. Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and toss to coat in the flour. Use your fingers or two forks to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (You can also do this in the food processor if you'd like.) Gradually add the buttermilk and stir or pulse just until the dough comes together (you may not need all the buttermilk).
  3. On a floured surface, knead the dough gently for about a minute until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the baking sheet. Pat gently into a 7-inch round and sprinkle the top evenly with about a tablespoon of flour; with your fingertips, gently spread the flour evenly over the top of the round. Using a very sharp knife, cut a shallow "X" in the top of the loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the loaf is brown, and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before slicing.
Jump to Comments (26)

Tags: bread, quick bread

Comments (26) Questions (6)

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7 days ago cindy

Is the wheat germ necessary? If so, what can I substitute?

Merrill

7 days ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

It's not necessary, but it adds great flavor. You could sub in more oats if you don't have wheat germ.

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7 days ago cindy

Appreciate it! I am going to bake this bread or your Mediterranean Olive Bread to take on a hike with chunks of cheese etc. Which would you suggest ? Thanks.

Merrill

7 days ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Tough call -- they're two of my favorites. If you like olives, the olive bread is excellent with cheese. (My preferred way to eat the soda bread is with just a thick coating of salted butter, but it would also be good with sharp cheddar or something like it.) Let me know which you end up making!

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12 days ago Julie

very easy and delicious! baking bread usually intimidates me, but this was so rewarding!! i will definitely be making this again....maybe later this week...

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8 months ago Lisanne

This bread is fantastic and comes together quickly. I add the 2Tbsp of molasses recommended by another reviewer. I made it today with gluten free flour (Namaste brand from Costco). We could hardly tell the difference in a side by side taste test. Thanks for this great recipe!!

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9 months ago Bebewatson

Help! Is "raw wheat germ" the same as "toasted wheat germ"? If not, can I still use it in this recipe??

Merrill

9 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

They're not the same, no. I wouldn't advise using raw wheat germ, but you could toast it yourself in a 350-degree oven -- keep an eye on it, and when it starts to turn golden brown, take it out of the oven, cool it a little and proceed with the recipe as written.

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9 months ago Ceege

I saved this in my "bread & roll" file. I love home made breads. Could anyone tell me why there is no yeast in this recipe. I have never made bread without proofing yeast first. Is the tiny bit of baking soda enough to make this bread rise so nicely?

Merrill

9 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

This is a quick bread, which typically don't require yeast and are denser than yeasted breads. In some ways, this is more like a savory cake!

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9 months ago Bebewatson

Can this be made the day before serving?

Merrill

9 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes -- it's best the same day, but it will keep for a day or two.

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almost 2 years ago MNinMA

oops, I meant oats, not oatmeal :)

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almost 2 years ago MNinMA

wonderful recipe! I toasted the oatmeal with 1 tbsp of butter to add an extra toasty taste to the bread.

Blogba_kicsi

almost 2 years ago Terike

http://szanter.gportal...

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over 2 years ago nakisa

How to make butter milk or to replace it with other ingredients?( I couldn't fin it in my area)

Merrill

over 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You can use this simple shortcut if you have milk and vinegar or lemon juice handy: http://frugalliving.about...

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over 2 years ago rrcooks

Have made this twice now. So easy and so delicious! Thanks, Merrill for sharing this. It's hard to wait the 2 hours before slicing but worth it.

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over 2 years ago mabcassidy

Great taste but more like a giant scone. Perhaps I did something wrong.

Farmer's_market

almost 3 years ago amysarah

Great, earthy soda bread - so easy in the processor. Only thing I did differently is I had an almost empty bottle of molasses I wanted to use up, so I added about 2 tablespoons along with the buttermilk - not enough to make it sweet, just rounded the flavor slightly and made it a tiny bit darker.

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over 3 years ago bottomupfood

A very fast and very tasty recipe. The food processor works well. Next time I'll make two loaves in a row (can't do two in our food processor). Only complaint with the recipe is that it doesn't make enough!

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over 3 years ago juppidog

As close to Ireland as you can get. I have missed what our family called "wheaten bread" since moving from Ireland 20+ years ago. I make this at least twice a week. Toasted with butter and marmalade and a cup of tea........heavenly

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You know, I think it's time I made a loaf of this...

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over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Made this today, only a little late for St. Patrick's Day, and it is delicious! Easy, healthy, and tasty...what more could one want?

Dsc_0048b

over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

May daughter and I have now made this a second time and she has asked if we can make it every weekend so she has it to eat all week! We actually make two balls of dough (one for each of us) and they bake nicely in about 20 - 25 minutes. We also added 1T of sugar which is only just barely noticeable. Love the wheat germ flavor!

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over 3 years ago karoneil

This is an excellent recipe!