Healthy & Delicious: Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Editor's note: On Mondays, Kristen Swensson of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share healthy and delicious recipes with us. Take it away, Kristen!

[Photograph: Kristen Swensson]

An amalgam of seven different European ethnicities, my siblings and I grew up without a real culinary heritage. If anything, Ma usually made dishes from outside our own hotpot of cultures: goulash, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. The one exception was Irish soda bread.

I like to think she picked it up from her own grandmother, who emigrated to Brooklyn in the early part of the twentieth century. Probably, Ma just found it in a cookbook. Either way, it was tasty—packed with raisins and sweetened with sugar—and at age 12, I wasn't one to question authenticity.

"It's also hardier and more of a quick brown bread than a dessert."

This Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread comes from Eating Well. It's similar to Ma's texturally, in that it's a little dry with a hard crust and soft center. However, it's also hardier and more of a quick brown bread than a dessert. Pairing it with cheddar and/or soup would be sublime, though jam, honey, or butter wouldn't be out of place, either.

To know: the dough comes together in about ten minutes, and requires no real experience with baking. It's about as idiot-proof as bread gets. I should know, as I am that idiot.

Ultimately, it's a bread for everybody, whether you're 100% Irish or only kind of Irish on your mom's side. Served with a pint of Guinness, no one will care anyway.

Healthy & Delicious: Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread

About This Recipe

Yield:12 to 16
This recipe appears in: What to Eat and Drink on St. Patrick's Day


  • 2 cups unsifted whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups light buttermilk


  1. 1

    Preheat oven to 450°F. Dust a clean surface with flour. Spray a baking sheet with Pam and dust with flour. (Note: Aim for the center when you do this, or you'll be scrubbing burnt, floured Pam off your bakeware.)

  2. 2

    In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. Make a well in the middle. Pour in about 2/3 cup of the buttermilk. With one hand, stir it into the dough in a circular motion. Add another 2/3 cup of the buttermilk. Stir again with your hand, until flour is incorporated. Repeat until buttermilk is gone, and you have a big ol' lump of dough, which should be, "soft, but not too wet and sticky."

  3. 3

    Turn dough out on to your floured surface. Clean your hands, dry them thoroughly, and dust them with flour. Lightly knead dough a few times, until it's a rounded loaf-like shape. Pat it down into a round, 2"-thick disc. Transfer to baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut a deep X across the bread. Prick each area a few times with the knife.

  4. 4

    Bake 20 minutes on 450°F. Drop the heat to 400°F and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes. Bread should appear finished and sound hollow when you knock on it. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack until you're ready to dig in.


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