Simple Molasses Brown Soda Bread

Simple authentic brown soda bread with molasses is a traditional Irish quick bread made with flour, oats, buttermilk and molasses. This yeast free bread takes only 10 minutes to prepare and is the perfect addition to any meal! 

Brown soda bread loaf on a white board.

Other Irish quick breads that are also yeast free include this traditional Irish soda bread and chocolate nut Irish soda bread.

I have always loved baking and before I started blogging I would make this bread quite often, and I like it so much it comes from one of my favourite cook books The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook, so i hope you like it too!

Traditional and quick to make, brown soda bread with molasses is a traditional Irish soda bread. The dough does not require any yeast and relies on baking soda as a leavening agent to give it rise. 

The result is a dense textured bread that smells amazing and is perfect to serve warm slathered with butter! 

Because it requires no mixer or proofing of yeast, it’s also very simple to make! If the thought of making bread with yeast seems intimidating, this Irish soda bread is a great way to get homemade bread without the hassle. 

Whether you enjoy it with butter and jam like we do with Irish tea bread or enjoy it served along with your favorite soup, it’s a great way to enjoy authentic Irish food. 

Why You’ll Love This Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  • No yeast: The best way to get homemade bread without the lengthy process of using yeast. This Irish soda bread recipe is perfect for bakers of any age including kids! 
  • Quick: With only 10 minutes of prep, most of the time is hands off baking time you can use to prep the rest of your meal.
  • Simple: Brown soda bread only requires 8 ingredients.
  • Hearty: Made with whole wheat flour makes this bread heartier than your average loaf!
Two slices of bread cut on a white plate with a knife with butter on top on the side of the plate and the rest of the bread on a white board in the back.

Ingredients Needed for Simple Molasses Brown Soda Bread

Traditional Irish brown soda bread contains simple ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen!

  • Flours: You will need both 2 cups all purpose flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour for this brown Irish bread.
  • Rolled oats: Oats add great texture to this quick bread.
  • Baking soda: Instead of yeast, baking soda is used as a leavening agent.
  • Salt: For taste.
  • Buttermilk: Adds tenderness to this hearty Irish bread.
  • Molasses: You will need unsulphured molasses which can be found in the baking aisle.  If you are in the UK, you can use treacle. 
  • Sesame seeds: Or sunflower seeds add some crunch on the top of this brown bread. 
Loaf of soda bread on a white board.

How to Make Brown Soda Bread with Molasses 

This wholesome and hearty bread is easy to make in a few simple steps! Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients: In a large bowl combine your flours, oats, salt and baking soda.

Dry ingredients mixed in a bowl.

Whisk wet ingredients: In a medium bowl whisk together  buttermilk and molasses.

buttermilk in a bowl with molasses in a teaspoon and then a bowl with buttermilk and molasses mixed together.

Combine wet and dry: In the center of your dry ingredients pour in the buttermilk mixture. Use a fork to combine your liquid ingredients with the flour mixture until almost completely combined. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured flat surface and knead lightly to form a soft dough.

Ingredients mixed together in a bowl and formed into a dough on a parchment paper lined sheet.

Shape and bake: Shape bread dough into a circle and place on lined baking sheet. Using a knife cut a deep cross on the top. Sprinkle seeds and bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 20-25 minutes. When done, transfer the bread onto a wire rack to cool down. Slice and serve warm with Irish butter!

Brown soda bread with sunflowers sprinkled on top and baked on a baking sheet.

Expert Tips

  • Avoid over mixing the dough: Handle your dough gently until it just comes together. This results in a light, airy bread! 
  • Dough should be sticky: Your dough should feel sticky and moist to the touch. Add more buttermilk if needed.
  • Homemade buttermilk: No buttermilk on hand? No problem, make homemade buttermilk by combining the 1 ¾ cups milk required with 1 Tbsp plus 2 ¼ tsp lemon juice in a bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Cutting the cross: Make your cut deep and gently pull the sides away from the cut, especially in the center. This helps your bread to bake evenly. 
  • Checking for doneness: Flip your bread over and give it a tap on the bottom. If your brown soda bread sounds hollow, it’s done!

FAQs

What are the origins of brown soda bread? 

The first written down reference to brown soda bread hails all the way back to a mention of it in Farmers Magazine, circa 1838 where it mentions that a correspondent of the Newry Telegraph gave the recipe for making a soda bread. While the story and bread have evolved over the years, it is true that during the potato famine in Ireland soda bread was an inexpensive way to keep people fed. 

Can I replace the baking soda with baking powder?

While technically you could, the baking soda is an integral part of the taste of an Irish soda bread. 

Do I have to use buttermilk?

Yes. You cannot substitute regular milk. The acid in the buttermilk is necessary to react with the baking soda to give this bread its rise. If you do not have buttermilk, make homemade buttermilk by combining your milk with 1 Tbsp plus 2 ¼ tsp lemon juice . 

How to avoid crumbly bread? 

Since there is no yeast in this bread it will not have elasticity. To avoid crumbly bread you want to avoid adding more flour even though your dough will be sticky! Keep mixing your dough until the ingredients are just combined. Also, do not over bake your bread.

Can I use a loaf pan for baking?

Yes, if you would rather use a loaf pan that would work. Try baking at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, then check for doneness.

How to Store

Since Irish soda bread can dry out quickly, wrap in plastic wrap and place in an airtight bag or container for 3-4 days. 

Freeze wrapped tightly in plastic, then place in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw and enjoy. 

Two slices of brown soda bread on a white plate with one slice buttered.

More Delicious Bread Recipes

Two slices of irish brown soda bread on a white plate.

Simple Molasses Brown Soda Bread

Erika Marucci
Simple authentic brown soda bread with molasses is a traditional Irish quick bread made with flour, oats, buttermilk and molasses. This yeast free bread takes only 10 minutes to prepare and is the perfect addition to any meal! 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Lunch, Snack
Cuisine Irish
Servings 1 Loaf
Calories 2256 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup Rolled oats
  • teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • cups Buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons Molasses
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Sesame seeds or sunflower seeds – for topping

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450F (230C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine together the flours, oats, salt and baking soda and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the buttermilk and molasses.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Using a fork stir the liquid with the flour until almost completely combined. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured flat surface and knead lightly to form a soft dough.
  • Shape the dough into a circle and place on the prepared baking sheet. Press the dough on top to flatten it and with a knife, cut a cross on the top. Sprinkle seeds on top before baking.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400F (205C) and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow. When ready, transfer the bread onto a wire rack to cool down. Slice and serve warm. Enjoy!

Notes

Brown Soda Bread with Molasses can be stored at room temperature. It can dry out quickly so it’s best to wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight bag or container for 3-4 days. 
The bread can also be frozen. Freeze wrapped tightly in plastic, then place in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 2256kcalCarbohydrates: 441gProtein: 76gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 5051mgPotassium: 2437mgFiber: 37gSugar: 52gVitamin A: 715IUCalcium: 707mgIron: 24mg
Keyword brown soda bread, irish soda bread with molasses, quick breads, specialty bread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

4 Comments

  1. I am going to make this Friday night!
    One question…
    The rolled oats, are they the same as old fashioned oats? I think they are but just want to double check.

    1. Hi Lucia! Let me know how it goes! This is a great bread! yes, rolled oats are also called old fashioned oats. Happy Baking! 🙂

    1. Hi Sheila, Thank you! This bread is really good! Let me know what you think after you’ve made it! 🙂

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