Food > Bread & Breakfast

Irish Brown Soda Bread

This brown bread is light and fluffy. Since it has a moist consistency, it doesn’t require kneading…just mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Irish Brown Soda Bread
Category Bread & Breakfast
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 45 minutes
Serves 8-10 slices

Following my sixteenth birthday, I flew to Paris to spend my summer holidays with a French family. The purpose was for me to learn French and help my host Sylvie, an avid cook and entertainer with the cooking at her weekend home in Normandy. My grandmother and my mother had both been great cooks, but it was during that summer in France that I wholeheartedly fell in love with pottering around the kitchen: – learning everything from how to bone and press a duck to making paté.

Though an incredibly capable chef, the one thing that mystified Sylvie was how the Irish made their wonderful brown soda bread.

One day she brought me shopping in Paris to buy the ingredients. That was the difficult part. Trying to find wheat bran and flour other than strong baker’s flour was near impossible.

Eventually we managed to track down something akin to the ingredients listed here (which I think by now should be internationally available). I made the bread one weekend for the family and friends at their Normandy retreat and it was a huge success.

The recipe here has been modified, thanks to help from my daughter who tossed in extra bran when she fancied herself a cook at four years of age. It worked – I liked the consistency and eleven years on, I’m sticking  with the edit. I have added oat bran, since we now know what a wonderful asset it is in a slimming diet.

The addition of margarine and egg add richness as well as helping preserve the bread. If you’re worried about calories, you could omit these 2 ingredients and substitute with 100ml cold water.

I use paper tin liners to preserve my tins. Whenever my supply runs out, I make my own by lining the tin with parchment paper. You can too. (See below)


  • 175g plain white flour
  • 1 teaspoon bread soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 50g wheat bran
  • 25g wheat germ
  • 25g oat bran
  • 25g margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 190C or 370F, Gas mark 5


Irish Brown Soda Bread 3

Sieve white flour together with bread soda and salt in a large bowl.

Divide the margarine into tiny pieces with a knife and then rub into the flour using the fingertips.
Add wheat bran, wheat germ and oat bran to the flour.

Beat egg lightly and mix with buttermilk.

Add egg and milk to the dry ingredients and thoroughly mix to a stiff paste.

Irish Brown Soda Bread 4Turn into a prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. Check by turning the bread upside down and tapping the base. If cooked a hollow sound can be heard.

Serving suggestions:

Brown bread is delicious served with just butter, as an accompaniment to soups, salads or any starter.

It’s great with egg dishes like omelette or simply a boiled egg.

Traditionally it is delicious when served with Irish smoked salmon.

Irish Brown Soda Bread 5Save time by doubling or tripling the quantity of ingredients and freezing the extra loaf/loaves. This way you also economise on your use of electricity. I like to have supplies without having to bake every day. This freezes really well and is even great frozen in halves. Just remember to place in a freezer bag with extra space… exclude air and tighten with a plastic tie.


How to line a tin

Irish Brown Soda Bread 6Cut a piece of parchment large enough to accommodate the tin and 4 sides. Slit the paper into the corners and cut away the wings on the short sides. Fold the sides and insert in the tin, folding the wings on longer sides behind. Hold in place while you place the dough into the tin. Peel off the bread once it cools down.


Irish Brown Soda Bread 7





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