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Brown Irish Soda Bread with Molasses

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Brown Irish Soda Bread with Molasses is an easy-to-make Irish Brown Bread, perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime you’re craving a hint of the Emerald Isle. This no-yeast bread is deliciously moist and tender with a hint of sweetness.

Closeup view of Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses in a cast iron skillet

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Absolutely wonderful with a bowl of Potato Leek Soup. But honestly, in my opinion, any bowl of soup can stand a thick slice of warm-from-the-oven brown soda bread.

Plus, this soda bread with molasses is a bit healthier.

This recipe isn’t, however, the more common Traditional Brown Irish Soda Bread which, I absolutely love. It’s based on an 1836 authentic recipe and has only 4 ingredients.

If you’re looking for a white soda bread with raisins recipe, you will love our Irish Soda Bread with Buttermilk and Raisins. It’s a slightly sweeter version of soda bread.

But somewhere in between lays this Brown Irish Soda Bread with Molasses and becomes a perfect blending of the two. It’s utterly delicious, and fast becoming one my favorites — all year long.

Side view of unsliced Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses in a skillet

What is Irish Soda Bread?

Distinctly Irish, soda bread is made with flour, often buttermilk and baking soda. It contains no yeast, requires no proofing, no rising, and very little if any kneading.

Traditionally baked over an open fire, Irish soda bread is often served with sweet Irish butter and jam. Perfect toasted for breakfast, with soups and stews, like our Irish Stew: an Ancient and Hearty Dish or the Traditional Irish Lamb Stew.

But I also couldn’t imagine a meal of Shepherd’s Pie or Corned Beef and Cabbage without it either.

This versatile bread can also be seen on an Irish teatime table.

Why is there a cross on Irish Soda Bread?

Before baking soda bread, a cross is etched into the top of the dough with a sharp knife. The reason is traditional, it’s symbolic, and it’s also practical too.

Traditionally, bakers would etch a cross in the top of the Irish Soda Bread as a mark of blessing. The Lord’s Prayer says, “and give us this day our daily bread.”

Some also prick each of the four quadrants with the knife to, they say, let the fairies out.

And practically, creating a cross on the top of the bread allows the thicker parts of the bread to bake evenly.

Unbaked Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses in a cast iron skillet

Tips on Making Brown Irish Soda Bread with Molasses

  • Handle the dough as little as possible to keep it soft and moist.
  • Do not knead this bread the same way you knead yeast breads, like our 100% Whole Wheat Bread. Handle it with care to keep it soft.
  • My Irish grandmothers always let the bread cool with a tea towel over the top to keep the crust soft.
  • Once the dough is formed, bake immediately so the buttermilk and baking soda can together work its magic and create a delicious soda bread.

Irish Soda Bread with Molasses Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make this soda bread recipe. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Flour: a combination of both whole wheat and all-purpose flour. You could also substitute white bread flour for the all-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar plus molasses for sweetness, flavor, and texture
  • Baking soda and baking powder for rise
  • Cold butter, cubed, is cut into the flour for amazing texture
  • Buttermilk and egg to bring the dough together
  • Raisins or currants
Top view of sliced Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses

What Kind of Pan Do I Need to Make Soda Bread?

My all-time favorite way to bake Irish Soda Bread is in a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet.

If you don’t have one, you can line a baking sheet with parchment or grease a 9 to 10-inch round cake pan or pie dish.

How Long Does Irish Soda Bread with Molasses Keep?

This soda bread can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for 2 days. If the bread begins to dry, try toasting and slathering with butter.

For longer storage, the bread freezes well for up to 2 months.

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Closeup of sliced Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses on parchment paper
Closeup view of sliced Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses

Brown Irish Soda Bread with Molasses

Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Irish Brown Soda Bread with Molasses is an easy-to-make Irish Brown Bread, perfect for St. Patrick's Day or anytime you're craving a hint of the Emerald Isle. This no-yeast bread is deliciously moist and tender with a hint of sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2/3 cup raisins or currants

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with butter or cooking spray. See options for baking pans in the Notes below.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and molasses.
  4. Cut in the cubed butter to the flour mixture using your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a fork. Continue working until the butter is about the size of peas. Stir in the raisins and make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the buttermilk and egg mixture into the well.
  5. Gently mix in the buttermilk until a shaggy dough is formed and it begins to come together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, knead the dough gently until you can form a ball. and gently knead until most of the flour is moistened. Add additional buttermilk if needed or if the dough is too sticky, work in a bit more flour.
  6. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan. Using a very sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the bread (Tradition holds that by carving a cross, you are blessing the bread). Then pierce the knife into the center of each quadrant of the bread.
  7. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes, or until the soda bread is golden and appears to be baked through. Tent a sheet of foil over the bread if it browns too quickly.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Cover the bread with a clean tea towel, this will help keep the crust of the brown bread soft.

Notes

Options for Baking Pans:

  • Instead of using a 10-inch cast-iron pan, you can line a baking sheet with parchment or grease a 9 to 10-inch round cake pan or pie dish.

Storing the Bread:

  • Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Freezing the Soda Bread:

  • Bake and cool the soda bread then wrap tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then reheat as desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 537mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 6gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g

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