Brown Irish Soda Bread

March 5, 2013


I have a love/hate relationship with Soda Bread. I think it’s absolutely delicious when it is fresh out of the oven, slathered with some butter or jam. Heck, if you have a really great Soda Bread recipe and it’s super moist, you don’t even need the butter or jam! BUT… it quickly starts to dry out. By the next day I can’t stand it without toasting it, and even then it doesn’t hold up to its fresh deliciousness the day before. I find it frustrating- I love it, but after the first day I find it disappointing.

I’ve only ever had plain Irish Soda Bread with white all-purpose flour and raisins. I knew of “brown” soda bread which is made with whole wheat flour, but honestly it didn’t sound that appetizing considering how quickly plain soda bread dries out, I could only imagine how well brown soda bread would fair.

Then I received an issue of Cooks Country magazine in the mail and saw an article that tackled the brown soda bread debacle. The goal was to create a loaf that was wholesome, not heavy. They wanted great wheat flavor without the loaf being dense. Wheat germ was added to give the loaf that extra “wheat-y” flavor. Although it is a non-traditional element, they found that adding baking powder, in equal amount to baking soda, ideally lightened the bread. And to touch upon the American elements of brown soda bread, they added discreet amounts of sugar and butter. I refuse to make soda bread that doesn’t include sugar or butter- it makes such a difference in the tenderness and flavor of the bread, I can’t imagine it without it.

Ultimately I have to congratulate Cooks Country on a job well done with this bread. It took a loaf that I was tentative to make in fear that it would be dry and dense, and they showed me that it can actually be just as light as traditional soda bread and include all the great flavor and nutrition of whole wheat. I can’t say as though I am more partial to one or the other- I suppose it depends on my mood- they are definitely neck and neck in my book.


Brown Irish Soda Bread
Serves: makes 1 loaf
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups (8¼ ounce) whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 Tb sugar
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3 Tb unsalted butter, melted and divided
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 2 Tb melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
  2. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until cohesive mass forms, about 8 turns. Pat dough into 7-inch round and transfer to prepared sheet. Using sharp serrated knife, make ¼-inch deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
  3. Remove bread from oven and brush with remaining 1 Tb melted butter. Transfer loaf to wire rack to cool. Serve.



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