Brown Soda Bread

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According to my calendar and not the weather (68° F yesterday in Chicago?!) it is March 8th.  That means that the green holiday is just a little over a week away.  Although I do have a little Irish in my blood, I don't get caught up in the revelry of tossing back one too many and chanting Erin Go Bragh.  I do, however, whole heartedly take part in the culinary traditions, like corned beef (I know, Americanized Irish), potatoes, cabbage, and... o.k. maybe a Guinness or two.

Soda bread-- it seems everyone has a favorite recipe.  Some are enriched with butter and eggs, some are flavored with added currants, raisins, or caraway seeds, and others (like mine) have none of the above.  They all share in common the traditional leaving agents of baking soda and buttermilk; no yeast in this bread.

Made with part whole wheat flour, part all-purpose flour, a bit of brown sugar for sweetness and the leavening agents mentioned above, this soda bread is quick and simple and has plenty of good flavor. In fact, this bread is so simple that my children (many years ago at a kids cooking class) made this recipe before I did.  Enjoyed fresh and warm from the oven that day, I was excited to have the recipe to take home.  My additions of a little salt and a brushing of melted butter further enhance the wonderful taste of the bread and crunchy texture of the crust.

Soda bread does dry out rather quickly, so it is best served the day that it is made.  I like to make a batch just before dinner to serve warm with a slathering of butter to accompany a soup or stew.  The next morning a few slices make their way into the toaster for a little more butter and a bit of jam. Bread for dinner and toast for breakfast-- mmm!
Printable Recipe

Brown Soda Bread
makes one large loaf (about 12-inches round) or two small loaves (about 6-inches round)

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2-3 cups buttermilk, well shaken
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Use your fingers to break up the brown sugar so no lumps remain.  Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add 2 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Using your hands or a rubber spatula, mix the ingredients in a full circle drawing the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk as needed until the dough is soft and smooth, but not too wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Gather the dough into one large or two small balls, rolling it around with lightly floured hands.  Pat each ball into a round disk about 2 inches high.

Place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Brush the top with the melted butter.  Using a sharp knife, cut a small (and not too deep) X on the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for the small loaves and 40-45 minutes for the large loaf.  Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or reheat before slicing.  Enjoy!

Source:  Whole Foods cooking class for kids


  1. This looks delicious! I am going to try this tonight!

  2. Mmm, your bread looks fantastic! I love the taste of soda bread(and I like it just plain - no raisins or anything!) but I've never had success making soda bread that looks good. Yours look so perfect :)

  3. I've gotten so wrapped up in baking yeast breads that it's been a long time since I made a good soda bread. Yours looks perfect! I miss that simple, homey bread and the sour soda taste. I'll have to interrupt my yeast baking with some soda bread now!

  4. This was the first time making soda bread, DELICIOUS! I will make this bread again and again! I didn't have any buttermilk in the fridge, so I used 2 C sour cream and 1 C milk, and added one egg also. Thanks for the recipe. I just found your blog and love it. :)

  5. This is absolutely yummy! The next time I make it though I won't use a loaf pan as it didn't cook thoroughly in the center and had to toast the individual slices.
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