Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Irish Brown Soda Bread With Molasses is an easy Irish traditional bread that is made with whole wheat flour, oats and molasses.
Irish Brown Soda Bread With Molasses
I recently visited Dublin, Ireland for the first time. I fell in love with the city, climate and the awesome food, especially the bread. Like all the rest of the European countries, Ireland loves its bread.
During my visit to Dublin I tried multiple types of bread, from classic white soda bread to bread made with beer, molasses (or treacle- as they call it there), oats or seeds.
All these breads were awesome and I have to say that my addiction to bread went crazy while visiting this old city.
I came back home ready to try some of these breads. If you are shy making bread at home, you are not alone. Making bread, especially with yeast, could be quite intimidating.
For that reason, starting with a simple bread like an Irish soda bread, might inspire you to try some more and diverse recipes.
Baking is one of the most satisfying types of cooking there is. It fills the house with comforting aromas and the anticipation of wholesome and delicious baked treats.
There is something about baking that is very therapeutic from kneading dough to make a loaf of bread, making a cake for a special occasion or working on a batch of favorite cookies.
You can try this activity with children from a young age, even if it means a lot of mess in the kitchen afterwards.
I encourage you to take the time to enjoy the simplest pleasures of baking an apple cake or a soda bread in the knowledge that generations have been using these recipes before you.
What is soda bread?
Soda bread is a distinctly Irish bread made with flour, usually buttermilk and baking soda instead of yeast. In US, this bread is also called sometimes “quick bread”.
Irish soda bread, traditionally baked over an open fire and served hot or cold with sweet butter and jam, is a biscuit like loaf that you can see on most breakfast and tea tables in Ireland.
The Irish baking tradition is an old one, as you can imagine. Irish breads in general are hearty, substantial and absolutely delicious.
A typical Irish soda bread, as we have come to know it in United States, contains raisins or dried currants and caraway seeds. These additions were not the norm in old Ireland, as they would have been very expensive and out of reach for a peasant farmer.
However, the Irish traditions of shaping the loaves round, dusting them heavily with flour and cutting a cross deep into the top of them, seem to go back to the early days, when the breads were often baked in iron skillets or deep Dutch ovens.
Today we bake these breads on trays inside modern ovens that provide controlled heat for a perfect result.
How to handle soda bread dough:
Do not be tempted to knead the soda bread made with baking powder or baking soda the same way you would knead yeast breads. Too much handling causes the bread to toughen.
The process should not take more than a few minutes from the time you add the buttermilk to the time you put it in the oven- any longer and the action of the baking soda is lost.
What kind of flour can be used to make soda breads?
A half and half mixture of whole wheat flour and white flour works the best, but there are hundreds of recipes out there that also call for rye, oats or spelt and even beer.
I personally like using whole wheat flour over white flour because it is a healthier option. In Ireland, you will find different types of flour that you can use, but we are not going to talk about that, as we live in US and have different types of products here.
What ingredients we need for this brown soda bread:
- all purpose flour
- whole wheat flour – healthier and with a lower glycemic index
- rolled oats – for texture
- baking soda – for rising
- molasses (black treacle) – brings a little bit of sweetness and color to the bread
How to make Irish Brown Soda Bread With Molasses:
First of all, you will need to preheat the oven to 450F. Yes, it is hot, but we will bake this bread only for 15 minutes at this temperature and then we will lower it to 400F. Stay with me, please.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, salt and baking soda. Basically we will mix the dry ingredients first, then we will add the liquid over.
Make a little well in the middle of the flour and add the buttermilk and molasses.
Using a fork, stir the liquid, gradually bringing the flour in from around the edge.
With floured hands lightly knead to a soft dough. Shape the dough into a round and place it on the parchment paper.
Press the dough flat about 2 inches/5cm thick. Use a sharp knife with a long blade to cut a deep cross on the top.
Why do we have to cut a cross on top of the soda breads?
Traditionally, a deep cross is cut in the top of the soda bread, giving it its distinctive appearance. Mothers used to tell their children that the cross allowed the fairies to escape.
I actually saw a cooking show on TV from Ireland the other day, where the baker was making soda breads with Paul Hollywood and she was explaining the same thing while she was making the cross on top of her bread.
The real purpose of the cross is actually to allow the steam to escape during baking, producing a lighter textured bread.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400F/200C.
Continue baking the bread for another 20-25 minutes or until the base of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Transfer to a wire rack and allow it to cool slightly. Serve it with some good Irish butter and some jam or honey, next to a cup of tea/coffee.
I could not be patient enough to cut the bread cool, so I slapped some butter on it and ate it right away. The butter was melting fast and furious greasing my fingers.
I have no words to describe you how good this bread is. With butter. And no, I do not feel any guilt, just pleasure!
I actually saw three types of bread served as a starter, at this Gallagher’s Boxty House restaurant in Dublin. I mean, literally, people are ordering slices of warm bread and a bunch of butter and eat them like that while drinking beer!
I think we should adopt this tradition as well, as long as we make these breads from scratch with good, honest ingredients. You should try it for St. Patrick’s Day!
Anyway, enjoy your bread that you made so easy and feel free to write a comment on the bottom of this article and let me know what you think.
Are you also interested to bake more with buttermilk and baking soda? This article about how to bake with buttermilk will just help you do that.
- 2 cups/9 oz/250g all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 cups/9oz/250g wholemeal flour
- 1/2 cup/1 3/4oz/50g rolled oats
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 2/3 cup/14 fl oz/400ml buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons molasses(black treacle)
- Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, salt and baking soda. Mix throughly.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the buttermilk and molasses.
- Using a fork, stir the liquid, gradually bringing the flour in from around the edge.
- With floured hands lightly knead to a soft dough.
- Shape the dough into a round and place it on the parchment paper. Press the dough flat about 2 inches/5cm thick. Use a sharp knife with a long blade to cut a deep cross on the top.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400F/200C.
- Continue baking the bread for another 20-25 minutes or until the base of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Transfer to a wire rack and allow it to cool slightly. Serve warm.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 138Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 328mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g