Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish Brown Bread


Finding a recipe for authentic arán sóide {Irish brown bread, or soda bread}, is such a complicated endeavour. It seems that no one agrees on exactly what constitutes "authentic". Some say that traditional Irish soda bread should contain only 4 ingredients...flour, baking soda, salt & soured milk {or buttermilk}. Yet, in many recipes you will find lots of extras. Things like, wheat germ, oat bran, oatmeal, sugar, molasses, brown sugar, yogurt, butter & many more...
There also seems to be as many varying names as there are ingredients. I've seen it called Brown Bread, Wheaten Bread, Whole Wheat Soda Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Wholemeal Soda Bread, White Soda Bread, Farl...the list goes on.
In America, Irish soda bread typically contains caraway seeds & raisins. It also contains some sort of sweetener & tastes more like a dessert, than a bread. I grew up eating the American version & I do love it. In fact, I made a version of it here, a few years back. If you want a great "American" soda bread recipe, I highly recommend it!
This year, I wanted to try a more rustic, real Irish version of it. I found so many different recipes, my head was spinning. In the end, I made my own! I took a little from here, a little from there & developed my own recipe. I definitely did not want it sweet, so I nixed any recipes with sugar, or any sweetener. I saw many recipes that included "cut in" butter & that method intrigued me, as I thought it would make a flakier bread. I also liked the idea of adding in some oats, for the texture & appearance of the finished loaf. In the end, the entire family was very happy with the results. It was devoured within an hour. Both my boys went on & on about how good it was...begging me to please make it again on Thursday!
If I happen to have any readers in Ireland, please let me know how I did?

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet, or baking sheet with butter. Add 1 cup of flour & 2 cups of coarse whole wheat flour to a large mixing bowl. {I used Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground Whole Wheat flour}

To the flour, add 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda & 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix together with a whisk. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter {cubed} over the mixture.

Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in a 1/4 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats.

Pour in 1 1/4 cups of {well shaken} buttermilk & mix until a dough begins to come together.

Using your hands, knead the dough into a ball. Beat one egg white in a small bowl.

Transfer the loaf to the baking sheet & cut a large "X" into the top. {Note: The purpose of the "X" is to help the loaf expand & for the inside of the loaf to cook at the same rate as the outside}

Brush the top with the beaten egg white & sprinkle a few pinches of rolled oats over the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve with a generous helping of Irish butter, or with jam, or use as a sponge to sop up gravy.
For more bread recipes, check out my posts for Buttermilk Biscuits, Sage & Honey Cornbread & Brown Butter Soda Bread.

Irish Brown Bread

Makes one loaf
For this recipe, I used Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour. You can use any whole wheat flour, but the coarser the better for this.

1 cup flour
2 cups coarse whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes {plus more for pan}
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats {plus more for top of bread}
1 1/4 cup well shaken buttermilk
1 egg white, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet, or baking sheet with butter.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Mix together with a whisk. Sprinkle the cubed butter over the mixture. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the oats & stir to combine. Pour in the buttermilk & mix until a dough begins to come together. Using your hands, knead the dough into a ball. Transfer the loaf to the baking sheet & cut a large "X" into the top. Brush the top with the beaten egg white & sprinkle a few pinches of rolled oats over the top.
Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. You will know when it's done, if you take it out, tap on the bottom of the loaf & it sounds hollow. Transfer to a wire rack to cool & serve with a generous helping of Irish butter.
Click here for the printable recipe.

14 comments:

Josie Lee Suská said...

Oh I'm so glad you posted this! I was just thinking of looking up a soda bread recipe to make on St Patty's day...I'll try this one and let you know how it works for me.

Joanne said...

Well, I have NO idea if this is authentic or not but I can tell that it's absolutely delicious! which for me...an Italian American girl with no Irish blood at all whatsoever...is what really matters.

dulcie said...

I was just trying to find a good Irish brown bread recipe... I loved the brown bread I had over in Ireland. This looks like a great version.

Randa said...

Mmm, that looks so good! I've been looking for some Irish recipes for this Patty's Day and I may have to try this one out.

Cooking Rookie said...

This is what I am going to make with my remaining buttermilk :-) Thanks for sharing - your bread looks great!

Miss Kate said...

Total. Bread. Craving.

This looks so good!

Nichole said...

I just pulled this out of the oven ~ it's beautiful and smells divine. I tore off a little hunk and buttered it. yummmm I can't wait until it cools enough to have a real piece!

Salt in Suburbia said...

Thanks for inspiring me to make my whole grain Irish soda bread recipe again and to post it: http://saltinsuburbia.blogspot.com/2011/03/whole-grain-irish-soda-bread.html

Now I'm planning to try yours!

Anonymous said...

my wife just spent 2 weeks in Ireland and returned with a taste for whiskey, black pudding, and brown bread! im going to try this recipe as a surprise for her!

victoriaca said...

Can you use regular milk instead of buttermilk?

kate said...

Victoria - you should really use buttermilk for this, but if you don't have any you can make a substitute by combining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white vinegar) with 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes before using.
Since this recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, just adjust the above method accordingly (1 1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar). Hope that helps!

Aysia Davis said...

Hey, just letting you know (I'm Irish myself) that this looks more like wheaten bread rather than a soda bread. Soda farls are usually a lot fluffier and doughy whereas wheaten bread is like this in texture and colour! Looks great though! :D Good job!

Anonymous said...

I just went to Ireland a few weeks ago and just loved the Brown bread they served at most meals. I will give this a try! Thank you!

John Johnson said...

i tried this recipe this morning and made two loaves. it is a great brown bread. The texture and taste are wonderful. So quick and easy.
Unfortunatly it has been over thirty years since I had brown bread in Irland so i cant remember it's taste to compare it to.
But I will make this again

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