|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 69g||25%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||34%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||5%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
In Northern Ireland, brown soda bread is made with whole wheat flour and known as wheaten bread; in Ireland, soda bread tends to be made with all-purpose flour. You may also know this as brown bread which in Ireland typically refers to the same thing as wheaten bread in the North. Sometimes you'll find recipes with a combination of whole wheat (also referred to as wholemeal) flour and all-purpose flour.
Nevertheless, soda bread is a quick bread that gets its name because it's leavened with baking soda instead of yeast. Traditionally it would be baked on a hot cast-iron griddle over an open peat fire. The griddled bread would be cooked into a round with an indentation marking the quarters; each quarter is called a farl. Today, the bread is baked in the oven with consistent results.
While some recipes for wheaten bread include a couple of teaspoons of sugar and tablespoons of butter, which makes it sweeter and a little richer, this recipe keeps it as simple as possible. When using baking soda, a recipe must include an acidic element for the soda to release gas and allow the bread to rise. In this recipe, buttermilk provides the acidity. You can't substitute regular milk as it isn't acidic enough; the bread won't rise.
This is a hearty, nutty bread that's enjoyed sliced with butter, or make a ploughman's lunch by serving the soda bread on a platter with cheese, fruit, and slices of cured meat. Soda bread is also perfect for afternoon tea.
- In Ireland, the measurements in recipes are given in grams and milliliters. It is best to weigh your flour as there can be a variance in volume and weight when using measuring cups. Many kitchen scales (even in the U.S.) will give you the weight in grams as well as ounces. In this recipe, 500 grams of flour equals 1 pound, 2 ounces.
- If you are out of buttermilk or cannot find it at the grocery store, you can always approximate it at home using an acid such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. The rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of acid per 1 cup of milk (whole milk works best).
4 1/2 cups (500 grams) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups (500 milliliters) buttermilk
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 400 F (200 C or Gas Mark 6).
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the buttermilk and stir to form a loose dough.
Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Knead the dough gently a few times until smooth.
Shape the dough into a ball and flatten to roughly 2 inches (5 centimeters) thick. Using a sharp knife, lightly slash the surface of the dough in the shape of an X.
Place the dough on a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until well risen and light brown in color.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
How to Store Irish Wheaten Bread
Irish brown soda bread will keep for 2 to 3 days, but it has to be well-wrapped in foil. It takes well to toasting on the second and third day after you bake it. However, it's so easy to make and requires no rise time that it's easy to understand why it's customary to make this bread daily.
Irish wheaten bread also freezes well. Wrap any leftovers up tightly, store it in a zip-close freezer bag, and reheat in a low oven until warmed all the way through. (This will depend on how large your loaf is.)
How to Make Vegan Wheaten Bread
To make vegan soda bread, you can substitute plain unsweetened nondairy milk, but you need to include an acid such as lemon juice to activate the baking soda. For this recipe, mix 1 3/4 cups nondairy milk with 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before adding it to the recipe in place of the buttermilk.