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Authentic Irish Brown Bread

For home-baked bread speedier than my Speedy No-Knead Artisan Bread, I bake Irish Brown Bread. A staple bread in Ireland, Irish Brown is different from soda bread for it’s distinctive large crumb texture and wheaty flavor with a touch of molasses. There’s no rise time, and it stirs up in about 5 minutes. I learned how to bake this authentic version while visiting friends last summer at their B&B in Tullamore, Ireland, between Dublin and the Galway coast. Our Irish friend John adds crunchy sunflower, sesame, poppy and pumpkin seeds. It was the best I tasted in Ireland!

I carefully watched John make the bread and took exact measurements. Then I made adjustments to the temperature and bake time since John baked in an Aga Cooker which doesn’t have exact temperatures, only hotter and cooler oven chambers and he baked the bread in both. I came up with a compromise in my oven, but the key is to bake until well browned so the center is fully cooked.

In Ireland I noticed this bread is commonly baked in the evening for the morning breakfast, as John did, and some of the other B&B’s. On our last night, the B&B proprietor gifted me a bag of Odlums brand whole meal flour which is an extra coarse wheat flour (see photo below). It was worth lugging home! The coarser flour plus the seeds makes the distinctive brown bread texture. Odlums is available on-line or look for the coarsest brand you can find, such as King Arthur, unless you happen to have a grain mill. (Which might be on my wish list now!). I like the finer textured brown bread made with our whole wheat flour, but the difference makes for appreciation of international food experiences. I add extra seeds to compensate for less coarse flour.

Bake a loaf for the luck of the Irish this March 17 and I think you’ll make this bread often!  After the second or third day I like to serve it toasted, and its always good with butter and my Basic Citrus Marmalade.

Print This Recipe
Irish Brown Bread
Makes one 9×5 or 8×4.5-inch loaf, about 16 slices

1-1/2 cups (200g) coarse whole wheat flour (see Test Notes)
1-1/2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons each sunflower, sesame, and poppy seeds, or your choice
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/4 cups (300g) buttermilk (use from Rita’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes!)
2 tablespoons (40g) blackstrap or dark molasses
1 tablespoon (10g) sunflower oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup natural or golden raisins, optional
1-2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

  1. Heat oven to 400°. Coat a 9×5 or 8×4.5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk, molasses, oil and egg.
  4. Stir liquids into dry mixture just until batter is evenly moistened. Stir in raisins if desired. Spread evenly in pan. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Moisten fingers and flatten top, lightly pressing seeds.
  5. Bake 30-35 minutes until well browned and pick inserted in center comes out clean.

NOTE: I was not compensated to mention brands in this post.

Test Notes:
King Arthur brand is coarsest I’ve found. I also like results with 1-1/4 cups of any brand whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup wheat bran.
For buttermilk substitution here are some options.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago I visited friends in Dublin, Ireland. Every morning we were greeted with a pot of hot Tea and a basket of warm Brown Bread. At first I wasn’t sure I liked the dry and nutty texture of the bread but by the end of my visit I could not wait to wake up every morning to this slice of Irish heritage. I still think about that bread and when I saw this post my first thought was “I’m making this for my family”. Thanks Rosemary for bringing back great travel and food memories!

    • Rosie's Kitchen
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      So neat Kelly! Thanks for sharing that and do let me know if you try the bread!

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