Irish Wholemeal Brown Bread

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A traditional Irish brown wheaten bread is a staple at the Irish table. You can modernise it by adding nuts, wheatgerm and even honey if you wish, but we think it’s a fabulous bread, without any additions, and when eaten warm with a knob of Irish butter and some home-made fruit jam.

Makes 1 x 2lb loaf


350g wholemeal flour
100g plain flour
2 teaspoons bread soda
Pinch of salt
50g porridge oats
1 medium egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
500ml buttermilk


1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Oil a  10 x 8 inch loaf tin.

2. Place the wholemeal flour into a large bowl.

3. Sift the plain flour, bread soda and salt together in another bowl and add to the wholemeal flour. Add the porridge oats.

4. Beat the egg, olive oil and buttermilk in a jug and add to the flour mixture. Mix well (don’t over mix) until it comes together and there are no dry floury bits left in the mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin, tapping the tin on the counter to level the mixture.

5. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. If it’s not done, bake it for another 5 minutes and check again. When it’s fully cooked, remove it from the oven, leave it sitting in the bread tin for ten minutes to cool, remove it from the tin and let it cool completely on a baking rack.

Recipe notes and variations on Irish Wholemeal Brown Bread

– Always use a level measuring teaspoon of bread soda – you will get a metallic taste in the bread if you use too much.

– You can replace 1 tablespoon of the porridge oats with a tablespoon of wheatgerm. It adds a nutty flavour.

– Replace 2 tablespoons of porridge oats with 2 tablespoons of crushed hazelnuts or walnuts for a nut bread.

– Sprinkle sesame seeds or porridge oats on top of the bread to give it more texture.

– Add a tablespoon of honey to the buttermilk and egg mixture to sweeten the bread.

– This bread freezes well.

How to make Buttermilk at home
– If you can’t get buttermilk, you can make a passable version with milk and lemon that will work in this recipe. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 500ml full-fat milk ­and leave it for 10 minutes. Don’t worry if it curdles. It’s better to use buttermilk as it has a tang that home-made buttermilk doesn’t have and the result will be more consistent.


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