I remember my first fresh brown bread in Ireland, during our first trip to see family back in 1999. Now, over 20+ years later we live in Ireland. This traditional Irish brown bread recipe is on a constant rotation in our home in Limerick. I learned how to make Irish brown bread during a cooking class in Dingle years ago and am so glad I did. I love this quick bread recipe – no yeast is required. It’s warm and ready in a little more than an hour.
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Recommended kitchen products used in this recipe:
What Is Irish Brown Bread
There are two primary types of Irish bread that people are familiar with: Irish soda bread and Irish brown bread. Traditional Irish brown bread is the darker, dense sister of the famous Irish soda bread. Although Irish soda bread can be made with brown flour as well, this brown bread is a little more hearty than soda bread.
Irish brown bread is heavy and dense, more so than Irish soda bread. Irish soda bread is white bread. Both taste great with warm Irish butter. They are both staples of the Irish diet, even today.
Both of these traditional Irish breads are considered “quick breads.” One of the benefits of Irish brown bread is that it doesn’t require yeast. That means there is no need to wait for it to rise. You can mix the brown bread dough and put it in the oven.
Ingredients for Irish Brown Bread Recipe With Buttermilk
This bread includes many of the traditional baking ingredients, including plain white flour, a bit of salt and sugar, and baking soda. In addition, it calls for wholemeal flour. This is what makes it browner than soda bread. I also make my brown bread with oats. The oats give a nice texture and also add a good amount of fiber to the bread.
The only wet ingredient is buttermilk – no eggs are required. I love baking without eggs because it means that I can bake at home even when we’ve run out of eggs.
Looking for more Irish recipes? Check out our collection of the Best Traditional Irish Dessert Recipes You Can Make At Home.
How To Make Irish Brown Bread
This is what makes this recipe for Irish brown bread so easy to make. Blend all of the dry ingredients. Mix in the buttermilk a bit at a time. Form it into a ball and bake. So darn easy. Add enough buttermilk so that the dough has the consistency of thick porridge, but is not too wet. See the photo above.
I use my stainless steel bakeware from 360, which is super-high quality. For this bread, I use the pie pan from the bakeware set. You can also use a cookie sheet or sheet pan. The bread won’t expand a ton after baking. I place the dough on parchment paper just to make it super-easy to clean up.
Baking a lot at home? Check out our reviews of Best Bakeware Sets.
Baking Irish Brown Bread
Once the dough is ready, form it into a large round loaf and place it on a baking sheet or baking tin lined with parchment paper and a bit of flour. I cut a cross on top of the bread with a knife to add some texture. That’s it.
Cooking the bread for the first 10 minutes at a high heat allows a crust to form. This crust is characteristic of Irish brown bread. Turning the heat down allows time for the inside of the loaf to fully bake without browning the crust too much. Allow the bread to cook for another 40-45 minutes.
At the end of the 50-55 minutes, remove the bread and check if it is ready. If it feels dense and heavy, it probably needs a little more time. If you turn it over and knock your knuckles on the bottom and it sounds a bit hollow, the bread is ready. Or, slide a knife into the bottom of the bread. If the knife comes out clean, the bread is ready.
I sometimes leave the bread in the oven for an additional five minutes but I turn the heat off to the oven. This gives it a few minutes of extra baking without overdoing it.
Allow the bread to cool and set for about 30 minutes before serving.
- 2 ½ cups wholemeal flour (brown flour)
- 1 ½ cups plain white flour
- ½ cup porridge oats (oatmeal)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 - 2 ½ cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place parchment paper onto a baking sheet or baking tin. Sprinkle a touch of white flour onto the parchment paper.
- Mix all dry ingredients into large mixing bowl.
- Using a wooden spoon, add one cup of buttermilk to the dry ingredients and blend. If the mix is too dry, add additional buttermilk until the dough has the consistency of stiff porridge or oatmeal.
- Shape the dough into a round ball and place onto parchment paper. Using a knife, slice a criss-cross shape into the top of the dough.
- Place the bread into the preheated oven. Cook at 400F for about 10 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 375 and bake for an additional 45 minutes. (see notes above)
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 232Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 597mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 11g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
Serving And Storing Homemade Irish Brown Bread
Slice and serve the brown bread with creamy Irish butter, like Kerrygold, which you can buy in the US. The bread is good with jam or preserves, but also goes well with a good Irish fry, or even with bacon and eggs.
Best Bakeware For Bread Recipes
For over 50 years, 360 Cookware has been making high-quality cookware and bakeware in the USA. Using high-quality surgical-grade stainless steel, 360 Cookware definitely feels like professional bakeware. Designed to last a lifetime, 360 includes a lifetime warranty on all its products.
Each piece incorporates a layer of aluminum to thoroughly and evenly distribute heat. The outer layer of stainless steel is thicker than other brands ensuring greater durability.
The 360 Cookware 5-piece Bakeware Set includes two 9-inch round cake pans, a 10-inch pie pan, a 17.5 x 14.5-inch cookie sheet, and a 9 x 13-inch roasting pan. All pieces are oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Recognized by the EPA, 360 manufactures its products in a process that includes no harsh chemicals. Free recipes and cooking tips are available on the 360 Cookware website.
Looking for an alternative to baking in an oven? What about using an air fryer instead. Check out this list of recipes for cake in an air fryer to make baking at home even easier.
FAQs – Traditional Brown Bread
The difference between Irish soda bread and brown bread is fairly straightforward. Irish soda bread is sweeter in taste compared to Irish brown bread which is more savory. Irish soda bread uses white flour where Irish brown bread uses wheat flour.
Simple is always good. Irish brown bread is made of two flours, wholemeal and white, along with oats, and buttermilk. These are the main ingredients and where recipes vary.
Bread is an obsession in Ireland. From store-bought to homemade, the Irish love their bread. The most common bread eaten in Ireland is brown bread, Irish soda bread, and white bread for toast.