Originally published March 2015. Updated October 2018 by Analida
Irish Brown Bread is as typical as a pint of Guinness. It is a close cousin, or stepbrother to the Irish soda bread made with white flour. Although today both are equally popular, brown bread was initially more common because white flour was more expensive.
People with less resources favored brown bread since it cost less to make.
Irish Brown Bread today is also made by artisan bakeries who take great pride in turning out these delicious loaves.
On my recent family trip to Ireland I was very happy that Irish Brown Bread was served at every meal. Whether at a pub or restaurant, Irish brown bread was always present. I am not exaggerating when I say that the bread basket was “attacked” as soon as it hit the table. “More bread please!” was a constant request.
Irish Brown Bread is delicious by itself, but even more so slathered with delicious Irish butter, and your favorite jam. Mmmmm Irish Butter, made from grass fed cow’s milk. It’s so creamy, yummm!
Irish Brown Bread is baked with a cross sliced on the top of the loaf. The rich, thick molasses add a touch of sweetness. This is done for scientific reasons. By cutting into the bread, the heat will be able to penetrate it and thus allow the center to cook well. On the superstitious side, the cross is to let the devil out!
I know you’ll be tempted to start munching on this bread as soon as it comes out of the oven. Hold back, you’ll need it for the stew or for your breakfast the next morning.
Here are tips to make a great loaf of Irish brown bread step by step.
Step 1: Combine the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
Step 2: Mix all the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Step 3: Add the molasses to the buttermilk.
Step 4: Whisk to combine the molasses with the buttermilk.
Step 5: Make a “well” indentation in the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture.
Step 6: Using a fork or spatula draw the dry ingredients into the center and combine.
Step 7: Coat your hands with flour and gently knead to form a soft dough.
Step 8: Form a ball on a floured surface.
Step 9: Press down on the ball until it is about 2 inches thick.
Step 10: Cut a deep cross over the top of the dough.
Step 11: Bake 15 minutes at 450, reduce to 400 and bake another 20-25 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
If you are looking for more Irish recipes to make for Saint Patrick’s Day or anytime at home here are a few of my favorites to try or bookmark for later. Irish butter cookies are favorite melt in your mouth shortbread cookie recipe that does call for Irish butter, no substitutes. If you want to make a delicious soup for your family then you have to try Irish potato leek soup. A more unusual dish to try would be Irish pub style salmon tartlets with a nice smoky flavor and creamy texture.
If you are into authentic Irish drinks them you will want to check out the recipe and history of Irish coffee and another interesting warm hot toddy like libation, the Scailtin or Irish whiskey milk punch. Both of these will warm you up on a cold night!
Irish Brown Bread
This traditional moist Irish brown bread is great with breakfast, slathered with butter or a healthy dollop of jam.
Preheat oven to 450'F.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: both fours, oats, salt and baking soda. Mix thoroughly all the dry ingredients.
Whisk buttermilk and molasses. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk mixture.
Using a fork or spatula, stir gradually until combined.
With floured hands, knead into a ball.
Shape the dough into a circle and place on a lined baking sheet. Press flat to about 2 inches thick.
With a sharp knife cut a deep cross on top of the ball.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes at 450. Reduce the heat to 400 then bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
This recipe was adapted from: The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook