Traditionally Prepared: Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread


An authentic Irish soda bread recipe is simple, and very basic in nature. This one just so happens to be nutritious, delicious and even traditionally prepared. Soaking whole grains overnight improves the digestibility and makes the nutrients easier to absorb, but it also tenderizes the grains and makes the final texture softer and more luxurious.


Soaked breads may sound laborious but soaked quick breads truly are super easy. All you have to do is mix up a few things before going to bed and in the morning  you stir in some soda and dump the dough into a pan and bake it. This Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread literally takes about five minutes of your time to toss together and it has a tender, soft and hearty texture. It is nutty, moist and amazingly rich considering how lean the ingredient list is.


I’ve learned over the years that the Irish take their quintessential soda bread recipes seriously, when they say “Soda Bread” they mean flour, soured milk or buttermilk, baking soda and salt. (The sweet, buttery, fruit and caraway studded loaves seem to be an American innovation.)


This biscuit-like, quick bread recipe can be prepared with a wide variety of grains and I suppose you could even mix in nuts, seeds, or dried fruits as you like. I have tinkered with adding dried fruit and caraway in the past but I’ve come back to the basics because I quite like this wholesome, nourishing, rustic loaf just as she is. Simple but flawless, you have to adore the beauty of frugal, quick and healthy recipes that just happen to be traditional and easy.

Traditional Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread (Irish Brown Bread)

I like to keep my dough tight and somewhat dense, I add only as much water as I need to knead everything together. In the morning if I need to add a little water to beat the baking soda into the dough, I add it by hand mixing the dough. (Literally hand mixing . . . with my hands and fingers.) You can prepare it to be looser like a biscuit dough for a lighter texture.

Using 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda will give you a soda bread that has a faintly metallic, baking soda taste that can be compared to a soft pretzel or bagels taste.

  • 1 Pound (16 Ounces) Flour , Roughly 3 1/2 Cups- See Note
  • 1 Cup (8 Ounces) Clabbered Milk, Sour Milk, Buttermilk, Yogurt or Kefir
  • 1/2 Cup Warm Water, More or Less (Only Use as Needed)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt, Fine Ground

The Night Before (Day 1) In a Medium sized bowl combine flour, cultured dairy (clabber, buttermilk, yogurt etc.) and water only as needed to combine the dough into a wet, uniform ball. (You can make it slightly wetter if you prefer, not pourable and thin like pancake batter, but slightly wet and shaggy like a biscuit dough.) Stir to combine. Cover with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

In the Morning (Day 2) Pre-Heat the oven to 350 Degrees. (F) Add baking soda and sea salt to the dough and thoroughly mix to combine. Add a slight amount of water only as needed to combine the dough. Spread batter into a parchment lined bread pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown. (I use a tea loaf sized pan that is 12″ long)  You can also shape the dough into a traditional farled, round loaf. Allow the bread to rest 20 minutes or so until cooled. To soften the crust to make it easier to cut, place the bread into a pillow case or cotton towel while cooling.

Note: Use roughly half whole wheat/whole grain flour and half un-bleached all purpose flour. You can flex this ratio to contain more or less of one or the other. Use only white flour or only whole wheat flour, it is up to you. I prefer slightly more whole grain flour than all purpose.

Soured Milk (If you don’t have a cultured variety) Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk and allow it to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Stir to combine and use where buttermilk or sour milk is needed.

You Might Also Like These Recipes! (From The Archive) Soda Bread, Wholesome Irish ColcannonIrish Brown Bread, New England Brown Bread, Irish Soda Farls, Soaked Brown Bread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting