Irish Wheaten Bread

Image of a loaf of wheaten breadIf you’re ever pushed for time and you want a comparatively quick loaf of bread, this Irish recipe is ideal.

It’s the antithesis of sourdough … no starters lurking in the fridge waiting to be fed, no slow fermentation methods, no stretching or kneading. All you need are a few basic ingredients, a bowl, a spoon, a tin and an oven. It’s bread making at its simplest.

Irish friends will probably be rolling their eyes and say they learned how to make it at their grandma’s knee, but for anyone who hasn’t tried it, it’s a winner.

If you want to get fancy you can add two or three tablespoons of seeds, chopped nuts or dried fruit to the mix (great with cheese) and/or sprinkle the top with rolled oats, but it’s good just as it is. I like it with a few slices of smoked salmon; with a big bowl of soup; or just toasted for breakfast with butter and apricot jam.

Unlike most soda breads this one, from a Paul Rankin recipe, is baked in a tin as the mix is runnier than usual. Once you add the buttermilk, get it in the oven as soon as possible as the bicarb, the raising agent, will start reacting with the liquid straight away.

If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute one tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar per 250ml of semi-skimmed or whole milk and let it stand for five minutes.

Wheaten Bread

  • Servings: makes a 1kg loaf
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Image of wheaten bread, sliced


350g wholemeal flour

150g plain white flour

15g bran

1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

1 1/4 tspn salt

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

600ml buttermilk

Image of wheaten bread just out of the oven


Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Stir all the dry ingredients together, then stir in the buttermilk to form a dropping consistency.

Pour into a very well-greased 2lb/1kg loaf tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Turn out of the tin and cool on a wire rack for a crusty exterior or wrap in a tea towel for a softer loaf. Allow to cool before slicing, if you can hold off that long.

Image of wheaten bread with smoked salmon and cream cheese

20 thoughts on “Irish Wheaten Bread

  1. We brought back a huge amount of lovely ham from Spain – can’t wait to try this with it and some tiny sweet tomatoes fresh from the greenhouse *wipes salivating mouth*

  2. thanks for sharing. I love soda bread (give an honest soda bread to many of the heavy sourdough breads for sale in many pathetic bakeries here in London – any day)
    I generally follow Elizabeth David’s ratio of half a teaspoon of bic soda to 225 g wholemeal flour (but her liquid ration has always seemed wrong – too little) and I use a mix of semi skimmed milk and low fat yogurt (I do not like the buttermilk I can buy here in England). I also add some melted butter and some oats. I got a better raise by loosely covering the loaf with some buttered foil or by covering the tin with a bigger tin (again, tip from Mrs David).

    with raw milk gone sour it is even better: tips learned from Myrtle Allen many years ago (raw milk gone sour does actually taste “sweet” /souring normal milk will not do – I tried).
    I will try this version. thanks again
    ciao, stefano

    • Hi Stefano, I’ve tried various soda bread recipes over the years including the excellent Myrtle Allen’s, but I really like this one. I didn’t have a problem with the rise here. I have used both supermarket cultured buttermilk in this as well as the real thing from raw milk cheesemakers Fen Farm Dairy and they both work … haven’t tried letting the milk sour, but it’s a good tip, thanks. Lx

  3. We spent a couple of weeks in Ireland, staying in B&Bs as we travelled around. I absolutely adored the soda breads we were served at breakfast time and made it a mission to find a great recipe to replicate the flavour. (Oddly the B&B hosts were reluctant to share) This is much simpler than my fave, i’ll give it a go

  4. I’m a little confused by the recipe.
    Does “1 ½” tsp mean 1 times a 1/2 tsp, ie add 1/2 a tsp, or does it mean add one and a half tsp?
    It’s the space between the 1 and the ½ that’s confusing me….

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