Almost without exception, any meal you get in an Irish eatery will be served with an abundance of Irish brown soda bread. Since the advent of bicarbonate of soda in the 19th century, this iconic recipe has been a staple throughout Ireland. A dense, hearty bread, made quickly and with simple ingredients, hits the spot after a hard day on the fishing trawler or out in the pastures. It’s also the perfect tool for soaking up the ends of your chowder or enjoying a bit too much delicious Irish butter. It comes in all shapes and sizes, from little biscuits to large loaves with a cross cut into the top (to bless the bread, of course!). You can read about some of the countless pubs that serve this bread in our foodie guide to small-town Ireland.

This is a basic version of the recipe.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
¼ cup of oats (not steel cut)
2 TBSP soft butter
1¼ cups of buttermilk (We make our own by putting lemon juice or vinegar in whole milk and letting it sit a few minutes)
milk to help bind

Heat oven to 375° F


Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter by rubbing it in with your fingertips. Add the oats. Gradually add buttermilk, working it until it forms a ball. It does not have to be a perfect ball; just be sure it’s not too sticky. It should be on the dry side, but if its not coming together, add a bit of milk to help keep together. Mold into loaf form and put in a greased loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when you poke it in the center. 

Enjoy with Irish creamery butter, jam, honey, or soft cheese. And wash it down with your favorite pint!

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