This traditional Irish soda bread is a great staple recipe to have at hand, when you don’t want to spend the whole day baking or you’ve just run out of bread and need something to go with your dinner or lunch.
This version of soda bread is made with wholemeal flour, so it’s much healthier than the traditional white Irish soda bread.
The secret in making good soda bread is to handle the dough as little as you can. Don’t try to smooth the dough and knead it well, in fact, if the dough looks a bit crumbly and not quite combined, that is exactly what you are aiming for.
This wholemeal soda bread is perfect to eat straightaway, whilst still warm with a bit of butter. Try it with soup, stew or instead of dinner rolls or biscuits.
Few notes on ingredients and baking this recipe
You can use 100% wholemeal flour, brown flour or mix of white or wholemeal flour. You’ll see that I’ve used 50% wholemeal and 50% white, but that’s because I quite like the lightness of the white flour. If you prefer darker, richer flavour go with 100% wholemeal flour. You don’t need to make any changes to the recipe, just bear in mind that wholemeal flour soaks up more water, so you might need extra.
Whilst most traditional bread baking uses strong bread flour, for this recipe, you need to use plain (all-purpose) flour. This is basically the type of flour you’d use for baking your cakes. We are not using yeast with this recipe and not kneading our dough, so we don’t need the extra gluten that strong flour gives us.
If you use strong bread flour in this recipe, you’ll end up with a very, very heavy and tight loaf of bread. The baking powder won’t have the strength to lift the gluten.
Alright, alright, calm down, I hear you! Traditional soda bread is made with baking soda, I know, but hear me out!
Over the years baking my own bread, selling it a farmer’s markets and then teaching people how to bake their own bread I’ve spoken to so many people who told me that they like the traditional soda bread (or scones), but they can always taste the metallical taste of the baking soda. A lot of people are genuinely sensitive to baking soda and they find it quite of putting when eating.
That’s is why in this wholemeal soda bread recipe, you’ll find baking powder instead of baking soda. There is still quite a lot of it in this recipe (4 teaspoons), but you won’t be able to taste it. It will just make your soda bread brilliantly fluffy and light.
There, I will just leave it here… and you are welcome!
Buttermilk is the traditional liquid that binds this bread mixture together. If you can’t find buttermilk in your shop (I know it’s not always that easy), make one yourself. Take a whole milk (or semi-skimmed) and add apple vinegar (or white vinegar). For this recipe, you’ll need about 330 ml and 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Leave it for few minutes, mix it and then use it in the recipe.
You can also use just plain water, thin yoghurt (water + yoghurt), beer or apple juice. Pretty much anything goes! The liquid will slightly change the flavour of the bread, but that’s the exiting part! The more fat in your milk, the softer the bread is going to be, but even if you use water the bread will be perfectly lovely!
More bread baking recipes for you to try
- Soda Bread Pudding with Irish Cream >>
- Quick – no-knead rye bread >>
- Russian Black Rye Bread >>
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls >
- Easy Tortilla Wraps >>
Wholemeal Soda Bread Recipe
- 250 g plain flour
- 250 g wholemeal flour
- 10 g salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 330 ml buttermilk thin yoghurt, milk or water (you might need more if you are using thicker yoghurt)
- Preheat the oven to 200 C (Gas Mark 6).
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Mix in the buttermilk or other liquid to make a dough.
- Only add a tiny bit more water if the dough is very dry (it does needs to be fairly dry)
- Knead briefly and shape into a round bread shape. Don’t over knead it, it really just needs a minute or so.
- Pat to flatten until about 4cm high, flour the loaf all over or use spare crumbs from the dough and place on a baking tray.
- Cut a a cross in the top the loaf with a plastic scraper, almost through to the bottom.
- Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base, then allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before eating.