Irish Brown Bread

A couple of years ago I made my first loaf of Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day, and instantly fell in love. I loved the thick, hearty texture and simple, yet complex, flavor. It’s perfect for toasting and slathering with butter and jam, to soak up extra broth from your favorite Irish stew or to eat alongside corned beef hash. Any way you cut it, it’s a fabulous bread that I have enjoyed over and over since first trying it. This year, I started seeing mention of Irish brown bread and went about trying to find some authentic recipes. Well, I found tons. And they all seemed to contradict each other in terms of what makes Irish brown bread truly “authentic” – some had to contain oats, some said absolutely no eggs, some said only four ingredients, and the list goes on and on. In the end it seemed that there was no one set of rules for Irish brown bread and I decided on this version from David Lebovitz’ blog, which comes from the chef/owner of Longueville House in Ireland.

I loved this version because it included such a wide variety of flours and grains – all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and a combination of wheat bran and wheat germ. I used a stone-ground whole wheat flour and oat bran since I didn’t have any wheat bran or wheat germ on hand. It takes the hearty texture of the bread to a whole new level and is absolutely, utterly delicious. I cut the original recipe in half since the original calls for such a large amount of flour. David suggested dividing the recipe into two loaves, but I just halved it and made one. For the full recipe, be sure to check out David’s blog.

I think I am now officially converted to the brown bread version of Irish soda bread – it’s delish!

One year ago: Asiago Bagels
Two years ago: Baked Oatmeal
Three years ago: Royal Crown’s Tortano
Four years ago: Mexican Rice

Irish Brown Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


1 cup + 1½ teaspoons whole wheat flour
½ cup + 1½ teaspoons wheat bran, oat bran or wheat germ, or a combination
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1¼ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon molasses


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and put it on the center oven rack.

2. Whisk together the whole wheat flour and wheat/oat bran or wheat germ in a large bowl.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the wheat flour mixture and whisk to combine.

4. Add the butter pieces and rub them into small pieces with the flour mixture using your fingers, until as small as possible.

5. Stir in the buttermilk and molasses until the dough is uniformly damp. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead gently, until the dough forms a smooth ball.

6. Use a sharp serrated knife (or a lame) to slice a cross deeply into the top of the bread, about 1-inch deep. Place the loaf on the hot baking sheet.

7. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaf is firm on top and when you tap the bottom, feels hollow.

8. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about one hour before serving.

(Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)


37 Responses to “Irish Brown Bread”

  1. Melissa Bakes on March 10, 2011 at 3:07 am

    This looks delicious! I’ll have to try it soon!


  2. Lauren on March 10, 2011 at 7:04 am

    It looks absolutely stunning! I’d recommend some Blackcurrant conserve over some good real butter to set it right off, or a lick of butter with some strong red cheddar. Can’t be beat!


  3. Katrina on March 10, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Yum! This looks super awesome! Great recipe 🙂


  4. Katrina on March 10, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Great bread recipe!


  5. Stephanie @ The Brunette Foodie on March 10, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I made Irish Brown Bread maybe two years ago, and my recipe is SO different than yours! It cracks me up when there are 20 different ways to make something the way it should be made. Your version sounds delightful, and I definitely need to give it a go. We’re having company in two weeks, and I think this would be great for breakfast.


  6. Blog is the New Black on March 10, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Looks wonderful!


  7. Rodzilla on March 10, 2011 at 8:08 am

    That looks great. I saw your suggestions, but what have you been pairing it with?


  8. Melissa on March 10, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Now I want stew & this bread! Or maybe just a nice, thick slice toasted with some honey on top! Yeah, think I need to make this one 😀


  9. Caroline on March 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Brown Bread is one of those things I absolutely fell in love with when I was in Ireland. I miss it terribly, but now I can make it myself at home! 🙂


  10. Amanda on March 10, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I love this bread! I made it when David blogged about it. His culinary adventures in Ireland made me want to go so badly! Last time I made this, I left out the germ/bran since I didn’t have any and hand, but I recently picked up some wheat germ for another recipe (and buttermilk, luckily), so i will have to make this again! Thanks!


  11. Lori @ RecipeGirl on March 10, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Yum! I’m such a bad bread baker. Gotta get over that and make this!


  12. RavieNomNoms on March 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Oh I couldn’t agree with you more on the butter and jam on soda bread! One of my favorite things from my childhood was doing that when my mom made soda bread. This Irish brown bread looks amazing…I need to try it!


  13. Dorothy (Crazy for Crust) on March 10, 2011 at 10:41 am

    This looks awesome! I love bread, so I’ll for sure be trying it. 🙂


  14. Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes on March 10, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Love this.

    And I totally agree on Irish Soda Bread – it’s so satisfyingly simple. Perfect for sweet or savory preparations.

    Thanks so much for the lovely post!


  15. egb on March 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Looks so easy! A definite must try.


  16. Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie on March 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Looks wonderful! Though I didn’t make any from scratch this year, I did buy some from my local and awesome bakery — Zingerman’s here in Michigan. I used their version of Irish Soda Bread for a Guinness Chocolate Bread Pudding I made a couple days ago. Yours looks like it turned out quite well. I agree with you, I love the chewy and hearty texture this type of bread produces. Yum.


  17. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on March 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I love the smell of baking bread. I bet this taste amazing warm from the oven!


  18. Susan on March 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    With a good hearty stew, this bread would be the perfect rainy day meal! I have bookmarked it for a Spring day soon!


  19. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite on March 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Love the idea of changing up the original Irish soda bread to make it just a bit healthier!


  20. Liz on March 10, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I ate Irish brown bread every day when we were on the Emerald Isle…so good! I’d love a slice of yours with butter and smoked salmon…heavenly!!!


  21. Happy When Not Hungry on March 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Love a good Irish bread and I love how this one has whole wheat flour. Definitely need to try!


  22. Erin @ WholesomeRD on March 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I was obsessed with brown bread when I went to Ireland a few years back. It was moist and delicious! I’m trying this recipe tomorrow!! Yum!


  23. Firefly on March 11, 2011 at 1:59 am

    It looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it!


  24. Peggy on March 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I’ve never seen the brown bread version of Irish soda bread before, but I’m definitely intrigued to try it!


  25. Nicole @ The Dirty Oven on March 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    On my trip to Ireland I could not get enough of this bread. I have been thinking of baking at home for some time. Your post has inspired me. It is great with smoked salmon and some peppery arugala and capers. Yummy! Now all I need is a Guinness!


  26. Ansa Hogan on March 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I never heard of brown bread until my trip to Ireland 10 yrs ago.
    I had brown bread every chance I could while I was there. I LOVE it.
    I found a little Irish store that I could buy it here in Chicago…but I really wanted to try making it myself.
    Im so glad you posted this because Ive been too intimidated to try making it myself.
    This looks like a recipe I could handle.
    Happy St Patrick’s Day!


    • Jen on March 15th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Wondering where the store in Chicago is?


      • Ansa Hogan on March 18th, 2011 at 10:44 am

        O’Connor’s Market on Devon Avenue just west of Harlem (by the train tracks)
        It has the BEST brown bread I ever had. They make it fresh!


  27. Jamie on March 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Mine keeps coming out doughy in the middle. I even baked it for an hour! What am I doing wrong?


    • Michelle on March 16th, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Hi Jamie, Hmm. Do you have an oven thermometer? I’m wondering if the temp could be off. Also, are you waiting for the bread to cool before cutting into it? If you cut into still-warm bread, it will almost always result in doughy/gummy insides.


      • Jamie on March 16th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

        Thanks Michelle! I know my oven runs low, so I set the temperature higher than the recipe suggests and bake longer. But you know what? I was overly excited to break open that beautiful loaf. I didn’t wait an hour. That may be what it was!


  28. Ansa Hogan on March 18, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Ok, I made this for St Patricks Day…and you know what….THIS WAS VERY GOOD..and very easy to make.
    THANKS AGAIN…for a deliciously easy recipe that I will be making again!


  29. Lisa on August 14, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Ansa- did it end up tasting like O’Connors?


  30. Terri Miller on November 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    This looks so delicious and very authentic! I am anxious to try it..just reading the recipe…I have wheat bran and wheat germ on hand..what proportion of those would I use in the recipe?
    Thanks I will let you know how it turns out!


    • Michelle on November 6th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Terri, You can use either one of those, or a combination in any proportions you choose.


  31. Akshngrrl on September 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Made it tonight in a pinch to accompany split pea soup for dinner. Very easy and turned out beautifully. I am guessing there is a good dose of fiber in this bread. My 8 year old was very happy with it and I wish we had honey on hand, it would have gone very well with this.


  32. Anna on November 2, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Thank you very much for this recipe. It did turn out very well and finished baking in 30 minutes at 350 degrees. To make up the 1/2 cup of other flours I used 2 tbsp of wheat germ 2 tbsp of wheat bran and 2 tbsp of rolled oats because that is what I had on hand. This really is a good recipe no doubt about it.
    I can see where you could make minor changes to suit your own taste, for example I may use 2 tsp of molasses next time just to see how it taste. If you do use molasses make sure its fancy molasses the kind bought for breads and baking as the other ones are very strong. You could ever use 1 1/2 WW flour and 1 1/2 White flour, I have a feeling this recipe is very flexible.. Thanks again Anna from Vancouver, BC Canada formally Ennis County Clare..


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