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!
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.
Table of Contents
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!
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.
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.
Whisk wet ingredients: In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk and molasses.
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.
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!
- 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!
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.
More Delicious Bread Recipes
Simple Molasses Brown Soda Bread
- 2 cups All purpose flour
- 2 cups Whole wheat flour
- ½ cup Rolled oats
- 1½ teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1¾ cups Buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Molasses
- 1 ½ teaspoon Sesame seeds or sunflower seeds – for topping
- 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!