Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Brown soda bread is so easy! And so quick to make! I believe everyone should have a fool proof recipe at hand to make brown soda bread. Majority of the flour I use is wholemeal which means your family is getting a healthy and filling slice.
I love making pureed soup for my family, it’s such a quick nourishing wholesome dish. I roast whichever vegetables I have at home, then throw them in the pot with stock and blitz. Voila! Dinner is served!
But what could be better than serving home soda bread with your soup!
I love adding seeds and dried berries to my soda bread, it just makes it more delicious. Adding dried cranberries and raisins makes a lovely loaf for breakfast time. Some natural peanut butter and banana slices and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Yumm!
My recipe is so easy. You can access in the bottom of this post. But before you start you may want to read through a few pointers which I believe will help you the first time you make it.
All you need is a large bowl, a spoon/spatula, kitchen scales, bread baking tin, wooden skewer (or a toothpick or a match). I make it all in one big bowl. No mess, no kneading. I literally mix all the ingredients and dip it into the bread tin.
If you don’t have a bread tin, you can use any baking tin you have. I like the traditional rectangular shape for a loaf of bread, but hey, the taste is the same whichever tin you use. If you only have a round cake tin, then make sure it is not too big, anything from 6-8 inches would do.
Because this bread batter is runnier than others, you would not be able to just bake on a baking sheet. It needs to be a tin. If you don’t have a baking tin, and just want to bake on a baking sheet, here is Paul Hollywood's recipe which might be worth trying instead.
As I mentioned before, typical soda bread recipes are a bit dryer. However, in my experience baking in my home oven, the crust becomes too hard following such recipes. Also, as I want to make it super simple, easy and clean, it needs to be a bit runnier so I can mix it easily in one bowl with a spatula.
The consistency I normally go for is something like creamy Greek yoghurt consistency but of course heavier as it’s wholemeal flour. But the thickness is something like Greek yoghurt.
Also, when I mix it, rough inconsistent holes start to appear as I move the spatula. And over the years making this recipe, this has been my indication that the batter is about right.
Once I have mixed all ingredients together, I leave it to rest for 10 minutes. I am not sure why exactly this is done, but when I first started making it, I read somewhere to give it 10 minutes before the oven.
Perhaps for the baking soda to start to work. But during this time you can prepare the tin, and make sure your oven is at the right temperature.
Preparing the tin
As I said before I use a standard bread tin, it is so handy to have this at home. I also make a lot of porridge loaf, banana bread and carrot cake in it.
It is good to have two bread tins in my opinion, because some breads need to be covered for the first half of the bake. And then I simply flip one of the tins on top of the other. This is to retain moisture during the initial rise.
Back to preparing the tin. Pour a little bit of oil into the tin, and then you can use a pastry brush or just your fingers to spread it all over the base and about an inch on the sides.
Next, take a handful of flour and sprinkle it over the tin.
Then tilt and tap. Tilt the tin to move the flour over the oiled area, you may need to give it a gentle tap or two to move the flour along into the corners and to cover everything evenly.
As you oiled the tin before, the flour should stick easily. Instead of the oil, you can of course use butter too.
When you oil and flour the tin, your bread will come out easily. It would be a shame to make a lovely bread and then have it stuck in the tin.
If you don't have oil, you can try just covering the bread tin base with flour and hope for the best! Of course baking paper is another option, and will work perfectly well also.
The first 10 minutes need to be at a higher temperature at 230C and then reduce to 180C for 30 minutes. My oven has a fan. So I suppose if yours don’t then, increase the temperature.
But I don’t have much experience baking in fanless ovens, so I trust your experimenting.
The second stage of the baking should take about 20 minutes. After that time, enter a skewer into the bread and see if any tough stays on the skewer, if yes, give it another 5 minutes and repeat the test.
I find that some days, for whichever reasons (different flour, air moisture, temperature, grace of god), I may need to give it up to 10 minutes more.
If you don’t have a wooden skewer, use a toothpick or a match. But make sure you don’t burn yourself as you attempt to stab the bread.
And if you don't have a skewer, then judge the colour on the top. Is it getting golden brown or is it still pale?
Another test you can do is to see if the bottom of the bread is baked. Using oven gloves or thick towels, remove the bread from the oven.
Tilt it out onto a chopping board, and see how the base is. Is it baked or is it still quite soft and pale?
However, often I find that bread might be baked fine and the base is still quite light. So for soda bread, I would trust the skewer test more.
I don’t like a hard sharp crust on my soda bread, so I would rather bake it less than over bake it.
If you are uncertain, give it extra 5 minutes after the initial 40 minutes and remove from the oven. But don’t slice into it yet, the bread needs to cool down.
It is so important to give your bread time to cool down. If you cut into your bread straight away, it will be hot, mushy and gummy, and you may think it’s under baked.
But if you give it time to cool down and then slice it, you may find it perfect.
This is important to know, so you can time your baking. If you want freshly baked soda bread with your meal, make sure you start on the soda bread first.
And if you want to bake for a dinner party, again, make sure to leave at least an hour for cooling down before serving.
I prefer baking my soda brad in the morning for lunch.
Change it up a bit
Once you have the basic recipe mastered, it is so easy to change it. Adding seeds, dried berries, nutc etc. They can all make such a difference to your bread.
If you do add seeds, I prefer to roast my seeds first. It brings out a stronger nuttier flavour in them. Roasting seeds is so easy. You can do it in the oven or on a pan.
I prefer a pan because during the roasting I need to mix the seeds to ensure they roast evenly, and I find this easier on the pan.
To roast on the pan, set the hob temperature to medium high, use a clean dry pan, place your seeds on the pan and stir them continuously until they start going golden brown.
Some seeds even start to pop as you roast them. Be careful not to be hit by the popping seeds as they are hot!
Remove the pan from the heat and give the seeds some time to cool down. You will be surprised how hot seeds can get and how long it takes them to cool down.
For the seeds to cool down quicker, spread them out onto a wide plate.
And if you really want to go expert level, soak you seeds after roasting. This way, they will soak in some water before you add them to the dough which means they will not absorb the moisture from your batter. Which in theory should make a moister loaf.
Any inclusions you add, aim for about 20% of the total flour weight. If you add too much, slices may end up not binding and crumbling. But if you find 20% not enough, you may increase the percentage and see how that goes.
If you add inclusions, you may have to add a bit more buttermilk to balance the consistency. But this should only be a dash or two extra.
But don’t worry too much, remember baking should be easy, fun and quick.
Ingredients for Brown Soda Bread Recipe:
This soda bread recipe is for one loaf. I have weighed out all ingredients to make sure there are no mishaps in the ratios, this includes the buttermilk.
240g wholemeal flour
100g white flour
10g (tablespoon) brown sugar
5g (teaspoon) baking soda
2g (half a teaspoon) salt
1 tablespoon oil and to crease the tin, and a handful of flour to cover the tin
Method for making Brown Soda Bread
You need a large bowl, a spoon/spatula, kitchen scales and a bread tin.
Preheat oven to 230C
Measure our all dry ingredients into the big bowl. Mix with the spatula.
Add buttermilk. Mix for 5 minutes until well combined.
Check consistency, as discussed above in the Consistency chapter. Add a dash or two of buttermilk if needed.
Rest the batter for 10 minutes while you prep the tin. Make sure the oven is preheated to 230C.
Pour a tablespoon of oil into the tin. Use your fingers or a pastry brush to spread the oil in the tin. Cover the base and an inch of the sides.
Now put a handful of flour into the tin. Tilt and gently tap the tin to cover the oiled area.
Add the mixture into the tin. With your spatula, spread the mixture in the tin so it is roughly even.
Optional. Sprinkle some wholemeal flour on top of the bread dough.
Put the bread tin into the oven, and bake for 10 minutes at 230C and then turn the temperature down to 180C and bake for 30 minutes.
After 40 minutes, do the first skewer test. If the skewer comes out clean, remove the bread from the oven, if not give it another 5 minutes and do another skewer test.
For best results, once the bread is removed from the oven, let it cool for 1 hour before slicing.