Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

whole wheat soda bread

When I was in High School (or was it Junior High School? :)), I did a report about Ireland. It was the first time I had ever made (or had ever heard of ) soda bread. I didn’t really like it,  but my rendition was probably not very good. Living on Long Island, soda bread is EVERYWHERE around St. Patrick’s Day. We do enjoy the Costco version, but I have to make homemade on St. Patrick’s Day. This is a great whole grain version from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread: Cakes, Cookies, Bars, Pastries and More from New York City’s Favorite Bakery. (On a side note: Amy’s Bread is one of my favorite places to visit when we go to New York City!) My father-in-law has been requesting a baked breakfast item that is not too sweet. This bread fits that request- but my family preferred it warm, sliced, with butter and jam (sweetness!) on top. Because it is whole grain, it was a pretty hearty breakfast. I omitted the caraway seeds to please my kids, but I prefer it with them added.

Yield: 2 loaves, each scored into 5 pieces

  • 13.4 oz or 1 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • .88 oz or 1 T plus 1 tsp molasses (coat the measuring spoon with vegetable oil to prevent sticking)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 8.82 oz or 1 2/3 cups coarse organic whole wheat flour (or substitute 5.6 oz or 1 cup regular whole wheat flour PLUS  3.1 oz or 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats)
  • 7.4 oz or 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.76 oz or 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2.5 oz or 1/3 cup unsalted butter, 1/2-inch dice, cold or frozen
  • 5.1 oz or 1 1/8 cups dark raisins
  • .28 oz or 1 T caraway seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12 x 17-inch sheet pan with baking parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, molasses, and baking soda and set it aside while preparing the other ingredients, to let the chemical reaction work.
  3. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flours (oats if substituting), sugar, salt, and baking powder and process them for 5 seconds until they are just combined (oats chopped into small pieces). Add the butter and process again for 15 to 20 seconds, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of tiny peas. The butter should be suspended in tiny granules throughout the flour, not mixed into it to make a doughy mass. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the raisins and caraway seeds until they are evenly distributed.
  4. Make a deep well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Stir with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon just until the dry ingredients are barely moistened. This dough will be very wet but will firm up slightly as the coarse grain begins to absorb the liquid. With floured hands, weigh the dough and divide it into two equal pieces- or divide it equally by eye if you don’t have a scale. Be warned, your hands are going to be a gloppy mess. Don’t try to shape this very wet dough on the table. Keeping your hands well floured, place each portion of the dough directly onto the prepared sheet pan shaped into a rough-textured round about 5 inches in diameter. It should be more like a loose pile of dough than a compacted round ball. Leave several inches between ezch loaf and around the edges of the pan to allow for spreading. Clean your hands. Then, using a floured dough scraper or a sharp knife, deeply score each round into 5 wedges, cutting all the way down to the pan. Dip your cutter in flour before each cut. Try to cut the wedges as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with a little whole wheat flour to give them a rustic look.
  5. Bake the loaves in the center of the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and continue baking 15 to 18 more minutes (only 7 more minutes on convection), until the loaves are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean. The bread should be crunchy on the outside, and moist, not doughy, on the inside. Remove the loaves from the pans to cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They’re best if eaten within 2 days.
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About Josette@thebrookcook

I live in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. I love garlic and baking. My hobby (and love) is to try new recipes. My favorite recipe resources include The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Enjoy!

2 responses to “Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

  1. jess

    Great tip about coating the spoon for molasses!

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