Irish Brown Soda Bread {Wheaten Bread}

filed under: Appetizers · Bread · Breakfast · Food + Drink on March 11, 2022

Irish Brown Soda Bread {Wheaten Bread} is a dense quick bread that is made with whole wheat flour and bran with old-fashioned oats baked in on top. Try my Beer Bread for another flavorful quickbread.

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Brown Soda Bread, also referred to as Wheaten Bread or Brown Bread, is crusty and hearty bread. It pairs well with foods from soups to stews to cheeses to just a layer of salted butter. Yes, it can be fun to eat on St. Patrick’s Day, but this bread can be enjoyed year-round!

Irish Soda Bread on a Cutting Board from Overhead

Bread Ingredients

Flour: A traditional Irish brown bread will use wholemeal. We did not have access to wholemeal at the time, so I used whole wheat flour with some added bran for substance and earthiness.

Bran: Bran is an excellent source of fiber. Plus, it helps with digestion and heart health.

Leavening Agents: This bread is a quickbread, meaning there is no yeast used to make it rise. However, both baking soda and baking powder are used in this recipe. The baking soda reacts with the buttermilk to give the bread its rise.

Buttermilk: Buttermilk is a standard ingredient in Irish Soda Bread recipes. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own homemade buttermilk.

Egg: For best results, use an egg that is at room temperature.

Oats: Go with old-fashioned oats, also called rolled oats. They will be sprinkled on top of the bread before it’s baked. Like bran, oatmeal has plenty of health benefits from helping with weight loss to being full of antioxidants.

Steps for Scoring and Adding Oats to Irish Soda Bread

How to Make Irish Brown Soda Bread

To make this Irish Brown Soda Bread, first, whisk together flour, bran, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Next, in a second bowl, combine the buttermilk and egg. Then, make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the egg and buttermilk mixture. Use a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate the wet and dry ingredients together.

After the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated, knead the dough just until it’s cohesive. Be careful not to knead too much; this could end up meaning tough bread. (If the bread is too sticky, you can add flour, a teaspoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.) Place the gently kneaded bread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the dough to a disk (about 2 inches high).

Once the bread dough has been patted down, use a knife to make a deep ‘x’ (about 3/4 inch deep) across the top of the dough. Sprinkle the oats on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375°F. The loaf is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean, or the internal temperature is 180°F. Let the bread come to room temperature before cutting and serving.

Cut Into Irish Soda Bread Showing Texture Inside

How to Serve Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is more than just a treat for St. Patrick’s Day. It can be enjoyed all year round. It is delicious with just a pat of butter. Or, toast the bread and add some jam for a tasty breakfast. The bread is also perfect as sandwich bread or served as a side with dinner.

Store the bread, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 2-3 days at room temperature. To freeze, let the baked bread cool completely. Then, wrap in plastic wrap, followed by storing in a freezer-safe zipped bag. Be sure to label and date the freezer-safe container; the bread can be frozen for 2-3 months.

What is the Difference Between Irish Soda Bread and Brown Soda Bread?

There are some similarities between Irish Soda Bread and Irish Brown Soda Bread {Wheaten Bread}. Neither loaves of bread use yeast to rise and they both are made with buttermilk reacting to baking soda. This chemical reaction was important in Ireland, where the wheat grown is so soft, it doesn’t work well with yeast.

However, there are plenty of differences. One difference is the flavor; Irish soda bread is generally a little sweeter, more like a scone, and made with white flour. Brown bread, on the other hand, is more savory with a nuttier flavor. It is usually made with wholemeal, but I used whole wheat flour and bran in this recipe.

Why Cut a Cross on the Top of Soda Bread?

Yes, scoring a cross on the top of the soda bread will be great for holding all the oats on top. It also allows the heat to get into the bread while it’s baking and lets the bread expand. But, did you know there is actually some folklore behind it the cross?

According to some, the cross will keep the devil away and protect you. It can also symbolize giving thanks and breaking bread, which is easier when it has been cut into four quadrants. So, get together with friends and family and break some brown soda bread together!

Hand Holding Piece of Irish Soda Bread with Butter Melting on It

Looking for More Quick Bread Recipes?

No yeast? No problem!  You can still make delicious homemade bread.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Apple Fritter Bread

Homemade Breadsticks

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Sweet Bread

Irish Soda Bread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Irish Soda Bread is a dense quick bread that is made with whole wheat flour and bran with old-fashioned oats baked in on top.

Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Irish Soda Bread
Servings: 8
Calories: 251 kcal
Author: Amanda
  • 3 cups (360g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • cups (367g) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon old fashioned oats
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, bran, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk together.
  3. In a separate bowl combine buttermilk and egg. Whisk to combine.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Use a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate the wet and the dry ingredients together.
  5. Knead the mixture in the bowl until smooth (if the mixture is too wet, you can add flour a teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.)
  6. Shape the dough into a round ball and place it on the lined baking sheet. Flatten the dough to about 2 inches in height.
  7. Use a knife to score a cross shape on the top of the bread loaf. Sprinkle oats on top.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Or, the internal temperature of the bread is 180°F.
  9. Let cool before cutting and serving.

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