A traditional brown Irish soda bread, with whole wheat flour, buttermilk, oats and wheat germ and bran. Quick and easy to make with no yeast needed!
If you are looking for a hearty, no yeast needed brown bread, look no further than this Brown Irish Soda Bread! While it is a perfect side for a bowl of Irish Stew on St. Patrick’s Day, it is also a quick, easy and delicious no yeast brown bread to make up and enjoy any time.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Buttermilk – Real buttermilk is recommended, for best results, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can make a buttermilk substitute by combining regular milk with either lemon juice or white vinegar. See Recipe Card Notes for how to do that.
Rolled Oats – this would be the large-flake, Old-Fashioned rolled oats. In a pinch, you could use quick-cooking oats, though I wouldn’t recommend instant oats.
Wheat Germ and Wheat Bran – This addition adds nice texture and flavour to this loaf. If you have one and not the other, simply replace the one you don’t have with the one you do :) If you don’t have either, simply omit, BUT, keep in mind that you will need less buttermilk when mixing the dough.
Dark Brown Sugar – dark brown sugar will add the nicest colour and flavour to this loaf, but you can substitute light brown sugar, if that’s all you have on hand.
You will also need – Whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, salt and salted or unsalted butter.
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter pieces and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until you have a fine meal. Add about 2/3 of the buttermilk and stir in, then as needed, add more buttermilk in small increments, until the dough comes together into a moist, but not sticky soft dough.
Remove the dough to a work surface and roughly shape into a loaf 9-inches long and 5-inches wide. Place into greased 9×5 loaf pan. Brush the top of the loaf with buttermilk and scatter with more oats. Bake 35-40 minutes.
- Toasting the wheat bran and wheat germ adds really nice flavour to this loaf, so I do recommend taking that extra step.
- This is a lovely, hearty bread, best eaten on the day of baking, but keeps reasonably well into the next day. This bread should freeze well.
- If you only have a 8×4-inch loaf pan, you can go ahead and use that. Simply shape into a roughly 8×4-inch loaf before placing into the smaller pan. The loaf will, of course, be taller, so the baking time may change (probably increase). Be sure to watch it closely.
- Do note that you should only add as much of the buttermilk as needed to produce a moist, but not sticky dough. You may not need all of the buttermilk for the dough. Don’t throw out any extra though, as you will use a bit more to brush the top before baking.
Get the Recipe: Traditional Brown Irish Soda Bread
- 1 3/4 cups (210 g) all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups (210 g) whole wheat flour
- 3 Tablespoons wheat bran, toasted, *see Note 2 below and recipe instructions for how to toast
- 3 Tablespoons wheat germ, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons rolled oats, plus more for topping
- 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar, or light brown sugar, if necessary
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoon (28 g) salted or unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
- 2 cups (450 ml) buttermilk, *see Note 2
- Preheat oven to 425F (regular bake/not fan assisted). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
- Toast the wheat bran and wheat germ by scattering onto a dry baking sheet and placing into a 350F oven, for 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Watch closely as it can quickly burn if left too long. Remove from oven and immediately remove from the baking sheet to a bowl to cool a few minutes before using.
- *I like to do the toasting when my oven is preheating. When it reaches about the 325F mark, I’ll pop in the baking sheet and it. Alternately, just preheat oven to 350F, toast, then increase the oven temperature to 425F once you’ve finished toasting.
- In a large bowl, combine the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, toasted wheat bran and wheat germ, rolled oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine well. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips, until it is the consistency of fine meal. Add about 2/3 of the buttermilk and stir well to combine. Continue adding buttermilk in small increments, until the dough comes together in a moist, but not sticky dough. You may not need to use all of the buttermilk, but reserve any excess for brushing the top. Remove the dough to a work surface and roughly shape into a loaf shape to fit the pan.
- Brush top of loaf with buttermilk and scatter with more rolled oats and press down gently.
- Bake loaf until golden brown and until a long tester inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. *If your top is well browned but it is not yet testing ready, you can loosely lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the loaf to be able to cook it longer, without it browning too much further. Remove from oven and immediately remove loaf to a cooling rack to cool. Allow the loaf to cool to just warm or completely before slicing.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!