Homemade Brown Bread
I used to bake soda bread about once a fortnight but we did buy a lot of sliced pans. My hubby was partial to a slice of batch and while I didn’t always eat it, we’d buy about 2 loaves of bread a week. The boys would have sandwiches, and then there was toast with melted butter, which is of course the stuff that food dreams are made of.
I was playing around with Mam’s brown bread recipe (it’s very reliable and you can find it in my cookbook which can be ordered here) and came up with a version which literally takes 5 minutes to throw into a bowl, and stir with a fork, before lashing into the oven. You’ve probably read that and sworn a bit, or even decided not to read any further because you don’t believe me. Honestly, once the ingredients are in the bowl my easy-stir homemade brown bread takes 5 minutes to make. My hands don’t get dirty. I mess up 1 large bowl making it and then I use some baking parchment in the tin so I don’t even have loads of washing up. Here’s the video instructions, and you’ll find the recipe below.
Now, on alternate days I bake a loaf of bread. Often in the mornings before we head to school I’ll leave it cooling on a rack wrapped in a damp tea towel to soften the crust and make the bread cool slower (this stops cracking in the crust).
It meets the 5-year-old’s ‘wholesome’ requirements and I always have fresh bread in the house.
When it’s toasted and slicked with a little bit of butter and a drizzle of our own honey, I can’t really put into words the magic that is created just with a little bit of heat and love.
Sure I’ll probably buy a slice pan every now and again, but not as often as I used to. Overall the price of baking my own soda bread is similar to what you’d pay for a decent loaf of bread so it’s not really a cost consideration.
That feeling when I take a piping hot loaf of bread from the tin and the smell wafts through the house. It’s a feeling of wholesome goodness, of nurturing my family, of striving to do my best and succeeding a few times a week. No matter what’s going on in the house, I’m managing to make the bread and put it on the table. I can’t put a price on that.
If you’re interested in the recipe I’ll stick it below. If you’re looking for a more traditional Irish Brown Soda Recipe you’ll find it here. The recipe instructions are for cups and spoons, simply because I don’t pull out the weighing scales, and find it easier to keep a cup in each of my flour boxes, so I just scoop out what I need.
Homemade Brown Bread
Ingredients (Option 1)
- 2 cups of strong white flour (plain flour is fine too)
- 3 cups of coarse wholemeal flour
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (plus more for the topping)
- 2 tablespoons wheatgerm
- 2 tablespoons pinhead oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 1 teaspoon of salt (this is optional but helps preserve the bread for longer than 2 days)
- 2 medium eggs
- 300ml fresh buttermilk
In Weight Measures (Option 2)
- 225g coarse wholemeal flour
- 30g wheatgerm
- 30g pinhead oatmeal
- 30g sesame seeds
- 170g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 90g butter, melted
- 330ml buttermilk
Preheat a fan oven to 210 degrees Celsius. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. You could either grease it well and dust liberally with white flour.
Take a large mixing bowl and place all the dried ingredients inside. These are the 2 flours, seeds, wheatgerm, oatmeal, baking soda and salt if you’re using it. Using a fork, mix the dried ingredients together until they’re combined.
Make a well in the centre of the dried ingredients and crack in the 2 eggs, pour in half the buttermilk. Using the fork, stir everything together until it starts to clump. Pour in the rest of the buttermilk and stir once more. You will end up with a very thick batter. It doesn’t look one bit like bread dough!
Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and put the loaf tin into the hot oven.
Bake at 210 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 200 degrees Celsius after this time and bake for a further 45 minutes.
After this time, check the bread is cooked by inserting a skewer into the deepest part of the loaf. If it comes out dry and clean then the bread is baked. If not, return it to the oven for another 10 minutes before testing again.
Once the bread is cooked, take the tin out of the oven, and lift the bread from the tin carefully (it’s very hot). Wrap in a damp teatowel and place it on a cooling rack. This will soften the crust to make it easier to slice. If you prefer a crispy crust, turn off the oven and put the bread back onto the rack in the oven while it cools.
Once completely cold the bread will keep for 3 days in a bread bin, you can freeze it for up to 3 months if well wrapped. You can also slice the loaf, then freeze individual slices which will keep for up to 1 month. If cooking for one or two people I recommend this method of baking, slicing, then freezing.
I make minimum 4 wholemeal loaves a week now and thankfully sliced pan is almost a thing of the past. My recipe is very similar but I have recently changed the buttermilk for natural yoghurt and milk and find the bread not as dense.
Yeo combine milk and yoghurt sometimes too! Great to hear your positive experience with making the change.
Anne can you explain the ratio of buttermilk to natural yogurt please . I want to experiment. Thanks
Hi Paula, substituting 1/4 of the buttermilk volume for natural yoghurt. If the bread seems a little tight then loosen with a small amount of buttermilk.
Easy and clean…..I love it!!
Mind you if the boys help me….
Thanks for the push catrìona! Had been thinking about this for ages as its only the kids here that have sliced pan. Just made the loaf now, was quick easy and mess free, would defo make with yogurt or half and half next time.
Oh I’m delighted to hear it. I hope you enjoyed the bread!
Make most of our bread here, though we’re suckers for a good Sourdough, I just haven’t gotten round to making that yet, do buy the very odd sliced pan when we’re stuck but it really is only once in a blue moon thankfully. Will have to add this one to this weeks batch of breads, every week its 3 or 4 white yeast loaves, and 3 or 4 soda breads, every two weeks I make brown loaves similar to the above. I must be a glutton for punishment!!
I would make more if I could but I simply don’t have the space in the little kitchen. I’m very impressed Nicola!
To be honest Caitriona I think I must be mad most of the time but my son is such a fussy eater, he’d live on bread alone, so at least if I make it myself I know he’s getting something that isn’t full of crap he doesn’t need. It’s very time consuming though.
Caitriona, are these American measuring cups or a cup to drink tea out of? 🙂
Hi Gillian, I use American measuring cups which are just about the same size as a china teacup in my house. It’s all about proportion. I hope that makes sense!
Just put a loaf in the oven, needed a bit more of buttermilk, mine seemed try. Really looking forward to trying it now. Have been slacking off with the bread making thanks for the kick up the rear
Brilliant. That’s great to hear. The amount of buttermilk varies depending on the type of flour, heat in the kitchen etc! You’ve done 100% right to use your senses to judge whether or not you needed more. I hope you had a lovely lunch. 😉
Same here, needed more buttermilk. Probably too much mixture as cup I used may have been too big. Now I know.
I have gas oven so can you tell me at what gas mark I should use
Hi Noeleen, preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7. Cook at Gas Mark 7 for 15 minutes, then reduce it to Gas Mark 6. I hope this helps.
I tried this brown bread and ingredients are delicious. However it turned out quite dense and heavy. I was hoping for a lighter loaf. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong.
Hi Brenda, first of all it does tend to be dense and that’s because of all the different brown grains. For a lighter version you might like to omit the wheatgerm and various oats. Also make sure that the consistency is runny, so if you feel it’s not loose enough add a little more buttermilk at the end of the mixing process. Another option is to decrease the amount of brown flour, and increase the amount of plain flour instead. I hope that helps!
Ann Marie O Donovan
Lovely recipe…can’t wait to give it a go
Thank you I hope you like it!
I’ve never baked before. but having just emigrated to Australia….needs must! I doubled your recipe and ended up with giant dry flour ball. I could not figure out why on the video you use a good amount of wheatgerm yet on recipe only 2 tablespoons. please help I don’t want to give up now !
Hi Meelisamarie, you can’t double this recipe because it’s tailored to the absorbancy of the different ingredients and also bread soda reacts differently when you increase the quantities. In general if you find the mixture too dry when making it I’d say add more buttermilk but unfortunately if you double the quantities the ratios would be off and it wouldn’t work. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
that’s what my husband said as the 2 dryed up moon boulders sat on the counter! will try again. thanks ( still curious about the wheatgerm quantity)
Hi Meelisamarie – you can use the 2 tablespoons as detailed in the recipe, or you can use more. The recipe is relatively flexible that way so long as you get the flour quantities correct. It does make it a little more high in fibre and it’s a personal taste thing. I would say try the 2 tablespoons and then see if you like the end result!
Yar @ OfRecipes
I came across this recipe from YouTube when searching for brown bread. I was so inspired by the simplicity that I made a loaf this morning! I did however do some tweaks to the recipe to make it more like the video and it turned out great! Thank you so much!
Fantastic. I’m glad you like it!
Made this today! Turned out perfect! Used your recipe to a T! Thanks for sharing this 🙂
Oh I’m delighted to hear it! I hope you make it again! 😉
Most definitely! Will make this regularly! I made two loafs today.. Its so good the family have devoured most of the first one 😀
Brilliant! Thank you so much for letting me know. x
Just put bread in oven and then watched video see u put in lot less than 3 cups of coarse whole meal and lot more than 2 tblsp wheat germ! Is amt of ingredients correct here as my mix seems very dry and followed exact measurements given
The recipe is flexible on quantities so long as the proportions are correct, however if you found it’s too try you can always add a little more buttermilk so that you get the right consistency. The reason why the video is slightly different is because I was using what I had to hand on the day.
Just wondering on your “option2” you Have 90gm melted butter, but you didn’t include it in the baking method. Also on your video you use rolled oats and this is not on your ingredients list.
I’m a bit confused
Hi Clare. All the ingredients can be added together. The list on the video and the list on the recipe are separate. Tested and both recipes work.
Dear Caitriona, I tried your recipe and after a few hickups ended up with a lovely BIG loaf of fresh brown bread. I used American cups for measurement and it turned out way too much flour. I will just try to use regular teacups next tume. So I added more eggs, buttermilk and baking soda hoping to save the dough and ended up with about double the amount as planned, but as I said, the bread turned out really nice. A taste of Ireland in good old Germany 🙂 Thank you for the recipe!
Ah I’m glad you liked it! You can always freeze the second portion!
Two quick questions: the recipe in the video goes with Method 1 or Method 2? And does Method 2 (with the butter) yield a lighter less dense loaf? And for a second question: have you ever added currants to it? Thanks!
The recipe in the video goes with both methods. The method with butter yields a similarly textured loaf – there is minimal difference I’ve found. No I’ve not tried it with currants as traditionally we cook a white soda with currants and a brown soda without sweetening.