Ballymaloe Irish Brown Bread

Making yeasted Brown Bread in Ireland

One of the high points of going to Ireland is the Irish breakfast. In France, breakfast is usually some toast and coffee, and I’m fine with that – although a few hours later, I usually have a plain yogurt with some dark honey or a bowl of fresh fruit, to tide me over until lunch. The Irish breakfast, on the other hand, is a major repast with several kinds of sausages, bacon, eggs, and a few other goodies to make sure there is no empty room on your plate when they bring it out.

Irish breads at Ballymaloe House restaurant

I’m a big bread eater, and never shy away from a bread plate no matter where I am, and have never had such good soda breads as I’ve had in Ireland. I learned much of it is because the wheat is milled in such as way that it remains very coarse, giving the breads their special hardy texture and flavor. Bread made with coarse-milled flour actually crunches when you bite into it. I love it!

Treacle for Irish Brown Bread

At Ballymaloe House, to accompany the Irish breakfast, they serve soda bread, Irish scones (similar to what we call “biscuits” in the states), and brown yeast bread, to eat alongside. They leave the loaves on cutting boards so you can help yourself. (I am always tempted to help myself to a whole loaf, and bring it back to my room to finish it off.) When I was there for the Literary Festival, Tim Allen, the son of Myrtle Allen, who started growing vegetables at Ballymaloe in 1947, and decided to open a restaurant, hotel, and eventually a cooking school adjacent to the gardens, kindly offered to take me in their cooking school kitchen to show me how it’s made.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Kitchen

salt for Irish Brown Bread

Tim told me that this bread was invented because they wanted to come up with a simple loaf of bread that anybody could make, one that was simple to put together, as well as being wholesome and nutritious. They believe that everyone should know how to make a basic loaf of bread. After decades of testing and baking, they settled on this one, which requires just a few minutes of mixing, no kneading (well before no-kneading became popular), and there’s no need one- to two-hour waits for the bread to rise either. Best of all, it tastes great. Unlike other whole wheat breads that tend to have soft, unimpressive crusts, this one gets an extra-crisp exterior from a special technique he showed me when the loaf was nearly finished baking.

Making Irish Brown Bread

After I got home, I set about testing it because I wanted to see if the bread would taste the same in my kitchen, with ingredients that I could find close to me. Ballymaloe kindly packed me up some of the flour that they use, so I had that, and I headed to my local natural food store to get regular whole wheat flour (T150, in France) to do a side-by-side comparison, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Regarding the yeast to use, we had a chat about the differences between fresh yeast and active dry yeast, and they prefer to use fresh yeast. Tim also told me (and I’m not sure if you want, or should, try this at home), that they took non-stick loaf pans, smear oil on them, and burn the heck out of them in the oven.

That’s how you make non-stick bakeware,” he told me. I didn’t have a few years to get my pan seasoned the same way, but after a few trial and errors (I figured you didn’t want to wait that long either), I had good results using non-stick spray in a non-stick pan lined with parchment paper on the bottom.

Brown Bread Recipe Tin

Which brings me to an important point: I tested the recipe a number of times and if you want to use other ingredientsor alter the technique, the results may not be exactly the same. I used the exact same ingredients as theirs, as well as locally available flour, but my pans and oven were different and had slightly varying results. The only difference as you’ll see later is that my loaves were a bit lighter in color and using standard whole-wheat flour produced a nice loaf, although different from one using Irish flour.

Since very few ingredients are in this bread, if you can find it, use coarse, stone-ground whole wheat bread flour. It gives the bread its particularly unique flavor and texture. The brand they use at Ballymaloe is Kells Wholemeal Flour made with local Irish (and Canadian) wheat. I visited their website and saw a lovely selection of whole-wheat (or wholemeal, as they call them) flours, but wanted to pinpoint which one. So I wrote to them and a few hours later, Robert Mosse, a member of the family who owns the mill, wrote back to me with some answers.

treacle and yeast for irish brown bread

Robert told me that they mill the flour so it has a coarse texture. Other countries, including France, mill flour finely because that’s what people prefer to making their styles of bread. At Kells (as well as with other Irish brands), the flour is meant to be used in soda breads, which are popular in Ireland, so it’s less powdery, more granular when you run your fingers through it. Also because the flour is stoneground, Robert told me, it gets a slightly roasted flavor from being heated up a bit during the milling process, which gives it that “unique flavor.” He also added, proudly – “And of course it’s local Irish wheat!”

However the good news is that they told me they are going to begin carrying it in 1,5kg bags under the name of their home-baking company, The Little Mill, which will be available next month in Ireland. The Ballymaloe flour is Bakers Wholemeal, which doesn’t help much unless you live in Ireland and want to buy it in 25# sacks, but he mentioned that very soon The Little Mill will begin selling it by mail-order.

Irish Yeasted Brown Bread

If you live in the United States, coarse whole-wheat “Irish-style” flour is available from King Arthur Flour. When I tested the recipe with the French whole-wheat flour versus the Irish coarsely ground flour, there was no comparison: The Irish flour took the bread to a whole other level and the crumb was just like the loaves at Ballymaloe. The bread made with standard whole-wheat flour was just fine, but certainly not as good as the other one. The dough with the regular flour was a little bit sticky and stretchy, the one made with Irish flour was shaggy and coarse. You can see the texture here.

yeasted brown bread

All that said, the spirit of this loaf is that it’s something that anyone can make at home, so don’t fret. Authenticity is a noble cause, but we shouldn’t be beholden to it. Even though I had the same ingredients, my loaves came out different because of various other factors – my oven, loaf pan material, etc. Most recipes and foods have been adapted for the various countries and kitchens they’re prepared in, and you should feel free to do the same with this one. Speaking of baking in various countries, when I was testing this recipe, I got a lovely note for a cook in Ohio who’d been making it in her restaurant kitchen for eighteen years, and I’ve summed up her notes and findings at the end of this post.

yeasted brown bread in Ireland

This brown yeasted bread could not be simpler to make. You proof the yeast in warm water with the molasses, mix it a few moments later with the dry ingredients, let it sit for about ten minutes, then scrape it into a pan. Once it has risen to the top of the pan (just like above), pop it in the oven and let it bake until almost done, then tip it out onto the rack of the oven and let it finish baking. That gives the bread it’s distinctive crisp, thick crust. In the restaurant kitchen at Ballymaloe House, the chef arrives at 6am to get the bread started, and pulls the loaves out by the time the first guests arrive in the dining room for breakfast around 8am. So you can start a loaf in the afternoon and have it for dinner. And if you want to get up at 6am, you could have it fresh for breakfast, too.

Yeasted Irish brown bread

Yeasted brown bread

Over in the restaurant kitchen, they showed me the pans they use, which Tim said are (or were, before they got so heavily seasoned) nonstick loaf pans that they oiled then “baked the heck out of.” They’ve been using the same pans for years – obviously.

Bread tins in Ireland

I loved the way mine came out, almost exactly like their loaves. Because ovens/pans are different, mine was a bit lighter on the outside, but inside, the rugged taste of the whole-wheat flour came shining through, and it was hard to wait long enough to let the loaf cool before lopping off a few slices.

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread-2

So give this simple bread a try. For breakfast, it’s great fresh, or toasted with a swipe of salted butter and either some honey or jam. It’s easy enough to make and requires almost no effort – just about five minutes of active work. And you too can have fresh bread on the table whenever you want, no matter where you are.

Ballymaloe Brown Bread
Print Recipe
One 9-inch (23cm) loaf
You can get Irish-style flour from King Arthur Flour. Should you live elsewhere, check out my tips for finding foods online where you are. If you don’t want to mail away for it, you might try replacing up to 4 tablespoons of the whole-wheat flour with wheat germ and see if you like the results. Otherwise, try to get good quality whole-wheat flour, preferably stone-ground. If you wish to use all whole-wheat flour, you can omit the white flour and use whole-wheat flour in its place. Tim told me they found they prefer it with just a little bit of white flour in the loaf. Because I wanted to replicate the bread at home just the way they do it there, I measured the ingredients by weight and used fresh yeast, which is sold in some grocery stores and often at natural foods markets. Molasses is widely available in the U.S., although they use treacle at Ballymaloe which is almost the same thing. (In France, it’s called Mélasse.) I didn’t try it with active dry yeast because I was so satisfied with the results using the fresh yeast but according to the Ballymaloe original recipe,” Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s (fresh) yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast active dry yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.” There are some additional notes from another baker at the end of this recipe.
400g (3 1/2 cups) whole-wheat flour, preferably stoneground
50g (1/2 cup) white flour, all-purpose or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
150ml (generous 1/2 cup) plus 275ml (1 1/2 cups) tepid water - 425ml/scant 2 cups total
1 tablespoon dark molasses or 1 teaspoon treacle
30g fresh yeast (see headnote and note after the recipe, for instructions using active dry or instant yeast - I use 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast when not using fresh yeast)
1. Mix the flours with the salt in a medium bowl.
2. Pour 150ml ( 1/2 cup) of water into a small bowl and stir in the molasses, then crumble in the fresh yeast, stirring a couple of times. Let stand until it starts to foam on top, about 10 minutes.
3. Pour the yeast mixture and the remaining 275ml (1 1/2 cups) water into the flour and stir until a batter is formed, which will have the consistency of oatmeal. (If using standard whole-wheat flour, the dough will be sticky, and rather wet.) Let stand 10 minutes.
4. Spray a nonstick 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan with nonstick spray and cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to line the bottom of the pan. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula or if it’s sticky, dampen your hand and use that then drape a kitchen towel over the top (so it’s not pressing down on the dough, but just lightly over the top) and let rise in a warm place until the dough reaches the top of the pan, about 20 minutes – although it can vary so just keep an eye on it.
5. Before the dough has almost reached the top of the pan, preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC). When the dough has reached the top of the pan, bake the bread for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, decrease the heat to 400ºF (200ºC). Run a knife around the outside of the bread to release it from the pan, tip the loaf out of the pan, remove the parchment paper, and place the loaf upside down directly on the baking rack and let bake another 15 minutes, or until done. The bread is ready when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow. If using an instant-read thermometer, the temperature should read 190ºF (88ºC). Let the bread cool on a wire rack before slicing.
The bread is best eaten fresh, smeared with lots of good butter, or toasted for breakfast, with jam and butter. It’s also nice for open-faced sandwiches, and would be a fine accompaniment to a cheese board, too.

Storage: The bread will keep for 3 or 4 days; I wrap it in a linen kitchen towel. You can freeze the bread for up to two months. Leftovers? Make Brown Bread Ice Cream!

Notes: Although I haven’t done it, if you want to make the dough ahead and put it in the pan, up through the point where you put it in the pan in step 4, you could likely refrigerate it, then take it out later and let it come to room temperature and rise, before baking it. Here are some notes from Mary Jo McMillin of Mary Jo’s Kitchen, who published her version of the recipe in her book, Mary Jo’s Cuisine, which she shared in our discussions: Mary Jo recommends King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, made from hard winter wheat – also available on Amazon. (On the King Arthur website, it doesn’t specify if it’s winter wheat or not. But they have great customer service if you want to call them.) For an Irish flour, she recommends Odlums, which she buys from an Irish shop near where she lives. When using regular whole-wheat flour, she adds an additional 4 to 6 fluid ounces more water, if necessary; noting the dough should have the consistency of muffin batter. (I didn’t find that the case, but if the dough is very stiff, you can add more water.) She concurs that it’s essential to use a nonstick loaf pan and while she oils hers, she also says you can use butter or shortening. (With a little disclaimer that she’s not a fan of shortening.) Like they do at Ballymaloe, she sometimes sprinkles the top of the loaf with toasted sesame seeds before the final rise in the loaf pan, and subsequent baking, which you can do as well.

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

 


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93 comments

  • elizabeth
    June 4, 2015 10:18am

    Oh my goodness this looks divine!!! I make whole-wheat sourdough which does take a bit of time, but I will definitely keep this recipe mind if I suddenly run out and don’t have a good 24hrs to wait for my dough to ferment. Do French people like this sort of bread? I have a French student staying and I am nervous to give her my rustic bread! Love your work so much :)

    • Marie
      June 9, 2015 5:10pm

      Hello Elizabeth,

      Just a little testimony from a former french student in Ireland: brown bread is one of the thing that I remember with the most pleasure (speaking of the food) from the time when I was living in the country. I really just loved it.

      It is true that we have nothing similar among traditional french breads, but I don’t think you should worry: there’s a good chance your student will like it too.

  • june2
    June 4, 2015 10:48am

    I had a thing for Irish soda bread for a period…seems like the right wheat will make a huge difference, so will keep an eye out for the Kells mail order option.

    Have you seen the Dan Barber talk on wheat? It is amazingly informative and inspiring, as are all his talks, and I think you’d love it!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbdj76Og9HE

  • ParisGrrl
    June 4, 2015 12:49pm

    David, thank you for including the closest French ingredients, especially the type of flour. Much appreciated!

  • June 4, 2015 1:55pm

    This is SUCH an interesting post. I recently moved from the UK to Switzerland, and I live super close to the German border so do a lot of grocery shopping there. I have noticed that Germany has the widest range of flours available near me, with nearly whole aisles of the grocery store devoted to it! I will have to pop along and see if they have something similar to the coarse flour you describe and give this a try!

    In terms of the pan… I’ll stick with parchment paper for now haha!

    • Elisabeth Conran
      June 4, 2015 6:12pm

      Lauren, I lived in Switzerland for 25 years (now in Ireland) and was able to have flour ground to order (min 10kg bags) in the local farmers’ mill, I was on the French side but imagine you could do the same in your area. Enjoy the bread, I’ve been making it for 30-odd years and still love it.

  • June 4, 2015 2:08pm

    Thanks for posting this recipe!! It’s an excellent bread I’ve been making since 1973 – when I found Myrtle Allen’s recipe in Beard On Bread. Beard’s version doesn’t have any white flour and more salt(too much salt really). I sometimes use honey instead of molasses if that’s what I have on hand.
    I’m glad more people will be able to try this recipe!

  • June 4, 2015 3:20pm

    Yum, I have never tried this. Definitely going to now. Great recipe and detail!

  • June 4, 2015 3:24pm

    Thank you for writing this up. I can taste that bread. So wholesome, hearty, real.

  • ron shapley
    June 4, 2015 4:23pm

    Definitely going to make this bread… Thanks for this great post…BUT….I don’t see the discussion of fresh yeast vs. instant yeast ?? I looked at the end of the recipe but, no mas…thanks Dave

  • June 4, 2015 4:30pm
    David Lebovitz

    ron: I quoted the original recipe’s notes, which are at the end of the headnote before the recipe. I also gave a link to a good site about yeast, if people want to substitute. Fresh yeast is available in most supermarkets in the United States, in the refrigerated section.

    elizabeth: My partner loves it! Although he’s not like all French people : )

    Maureen: I saw that recipe online but the picture accompanying it wasn’t the same bread, which made me suspicious. There was also a huge amount of salt in it, and I wasn’t sure if it had been transcribed wrong or what.

    • June 4, 2015 7:26pm

      I don’t know which pictures you saw – but when I bake it – it looks like the ones you’ve posted…

      Beard seems to have had a taste for salt – many of his bread recipes have way too much salt – I use 1 tsp – not the tablespoon he calls for.

  • June 4, 2015 5:02pm

    I was lucky enough to visit Ballymaloe last month and take a bread-making course in the kitchen with RJ. This brown bread is unbelievable and I can’t wait to make it myself, so thanks for the helpful tips about the ingredients. I have bits of my loaf from there still frozen; I can’t bear to finish it!

  • Clara
    June 4, 2015 5:13pm

    This bread looks fantastic and like it would be easy to make. I tried working with yeast a few times in the past and the results were not good so I have given up trying to make yeasted breads. But, I think I’ll try again with this recipe.

  • camille
    June 4, 2015 5:16pm

    David- Sorry I saw the yeast discussion but I am still a little unsure as to how much dry yeast to use. Is it just one packet of yeast?

    • June 4, 2015 5:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      I didn’t make or test it with active dry yeast so I can’t say how much but according to the notes before the recipe, they say “Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s (fresh) yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast.”

      • June 6, 2015 10:09pm

        I found some info on dry yeast substitutions from the San Francisco Baking Institute: to sub dry yeast for 30 grams fresh yeast use 40% ( as home kitchen temperatures are not as hot as commercial ones ) 30 g = 6 teaspoons
        40% of 30g = 12g, Therefore 2 1/2 teaspoons.

        • Paul
          June 7, 2015 7:26pm

          I used Hodgson Mills organic stone-ground whole-wheat flour, available in bulk at Whole Foods, and 10 grams of SAF Red instant yeast (a smidge over 21/4 teaspoons—the King Arthur Flour website says to use 33% of the weight of fresh yeast when converting to instant), which I mixed in with the flours and salt in step one. The bread rose perfectly and tasted wonderful. Thanks, David.

    • ron shapley
      June 6, 2015 4:56am

      1 1/2 packets 2.64 tsp

    • kris
      June 11, 2015 8:45am

      Elizabeth David says a scant teaspoon of dry yeast per pound of flour; 3 teaspoons for 4 pounds. A pound = 450g (~3 cups).

  • Kathleen
    June 4, 2015 5:26pm

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I am thinking of trying it with graham flour which I believe is a coarser grind of flour that might match the “Irish” flour

    • AJM
      June 5, 2015 10:57pm

      Did you try it with graham and did it turn out? I happen to have some in my pantry and was thinking the same thing..

      • Kathleen
        June 5, 2015 11:14pm

        It is on the list as my weekend baking project, will report back with the results

  • Melanie
    June 4, 2015 5:27pm

    Looks divine! How would this work with whole spelt flour?

  • Margaret
    June 4, 2015 5:40pm

    If you put molasses or treacle or brown sugar in with soda bread you get a lovely crisp crust as well. When I was growing up people would talk about how crisp a crust they could get on their brown soda or scones. We call it a brown soda made like this treacle bread and a friends mother always made in in a casserole dish in the oven with a lid on which is actually the way it was originally made in a metal oven like a covered dish in the ashes of an open fire with coals on top of the lid. There are a few different wholemeal flowers we use, there is wheaten which is more finely milled and then the rougher wholemeals. As you said you have to experiment with the recipe and your own oven. The other one I add to bread (a little) is malted grain which is what is in Hovis. Dove Farm do a range of wholegrain flours.
    Irish flour for soda bread is something the Irish bring each other when leaving abroad or even just a packet of soda bread mix. I bring it to my friends in Paris when I visit.

  • June 4, 2015 5:42pm

    This is such a great post David! I love learning from Tim. He’s just so knowledgable. Robert from Kells was actually at the festival, had I known, I would love to have introduced you two. We’ll have to start exporting flour to you

  • June 4, 2015 5:48pm

    Sometimes I will read the title of your recipe and find it ‘hmm ok it’s just bread’ but by the time I am done reading the post I have two bags of Irish wheat flour and molasses in my Amazon cart and the recipe is pinned + boomarked. How does this happen.

  • Claudia
    June 4, 2015 5:49pm

    Thanks so much for this information. We visited Ireland a few years ago and my most favorite part of their breakfasts was the brown bread, unlike any bread I’d ever tasted. I’ll try my hand at this. Probably won’t be exactly the same, but nevertheless it may be scrumptious.

  • Lisa
    June 4, 2015 5:52pm

    Oh, breakfast at Ballymaloe – and this bread – shine in my memory from a trip there two years ago. We remember stuffing ourselves at the stewed fruit and baked goods and oatmeal tables, and then being asked by the marvelous waitress, “And now what will you have for breakfast?” After which arrived various delicacies, including the freshest fish ever. I’m glad to have this tested version of the bread, have been trying to recreate it with mixed results!

  • Delphine
    June 4, 2015 6:09pm

    Looks lovely ! In France the closest flour might be semoule fine complète de blé dur ? It is coarser than flour and finer than semoule that would be used for couscous :
    http://celnat.fr/farines-et-autres-moutures/semoules/1333-semoule-fine-complete-de-ble-dur-

  • Becky
    June 4, 2015 6:38pm

    Wonder how a cast iron skillet would work for baking the bread? Would allow for a nice crust I think. I may give it a go and see!

  • June 4, 2015 6:39pm

    My family has made Irish Soda bread for years, but I think it has been Americanized over the generations. I was thrilled to read this post and learn how to make a true Irish bread.

  • Pam
    June 4, 2015 6:42pm

    Thank you would love to try this. Your first comment under ‘Notes’ re-preparing ahead of time were a little confusing (prob my fault!). Can I refrigerate it in the pan or not?

    • June 4, 2015 6:58pm
      David Lebovitz

      I was avoiding discussing making the dough ahead of time since I didn’t try it but knew that people would inquire about it. The dough is taken through step 4, put in the pan, and could likely be refrigerated then let come to room temperature and allowed to rise before baking. I clarified it a little more in the post but I typed so much for this post, that I didn’t want to overwhelm people – I just want folks to try the bread : )

      • Pam
        June 4, 2015 9:48pm

        Ty! Won’t try to make ahead! Will follow your lead exactly. It will be fun to try the King Arthur Irish flour and am off to Central Market for fresh yeast.
        Thanks again for always providing new recipes to try; I really enjoy it.

  • JacqueB
    June 4, 2015 6:55pm

    Thanks, David! I am excited to make this recipe – thanks so much for sharing it and all the explanations – it is so helpful!

  • Hillary
    June 4, 2015 6:59pm

    I’m excited to try this bread! A while back I switched from using regular KA whole wheat flour in my bread to Hodgson Mill’s whole wheat graham flour (http://www.hodgsonmillstore.com/en/all-natural-flour/whole-wheat-flour-71518-05005-001_group) – it’s stoneground and has a much nicer texture than King Arthur. I’m curious if it’s similar in texture to the KA Irish wholemeal flour – I guess I’ll try it in this recipe and see!

  • Mike S
    June 4, 2015 7:01pm

    How does Bob’s Stone Ground whole wheat flour compare in coarseness to the KA Irish or the real stuff in Ireland?

  • Querino de-Freitas
    June 4, 2015 7:12pm

    I have always made my own bread….mostly brown,,,I use fresh yeast sometimes,,,which my aunt always used when I was growing up…and with the mixture she would make a batch, a sweet version with honey,,raisins,currents…so we will have two types of bread from the same batch….thanks…Querino

  • Joseph
    June 4, 2015 7:34pm

    Missing an adjective (“similar” perhaps?) at: “but my pans and oven were different and had very ____________ results”

  • Sandy
    June 4, 2015 7:39pm

    You are the luckiest guy in the world to have exposure to all the fine food that you taste and bake! Also, you, and most of your readers are incredibly lucky to be able to eat all these wheat things. We unlucky souls with celiac disease can only look and drool.

  • June 4, 2015 9:11pm

    My husband is Irish and his favourite thing is wheaten bread, as he calls it. I’ve not tried making it at home (I wouldn’t dare!), but stoneground wholemeal flour, which is what you want, is widely available here in England.

  • June 4, 2015 9:39pm

    Great bread is the ultimate, and I love reading all this great info. Maybe I should have been a baker…but would probably be very chubby.

  • Martha
    June 4, 2015 10:24pm

    Odlums is available in some stateside supermarkets. If there is a sizable Irish population in your area, you can find it in the international aisle.

  • Sissy
    June 4, 2015 10:36pm

    This looks great David, thanks!! I’ve got to try making it since I love brown bread.

  • TerriSue
    June 4, 2015 10:43pm

    This bread looks fantastic. Just what I’ve been looking for. I can’t wait to try it. I’m going to put in an order to King Arthur Flour next.

  • Sho
    June 4, 2015 11:48pm

    Re coarse ground wholemeal, one solution is to buy a very reasonably priced and indestructible grain grinder from the German firm Jupiter – Getreidemuehle – with a choice of a stone or steel mechanism. Wholemeal tastes better freshly ground. No commercial interest, just a fan of Jupiter. Their costs are low because they save on marketing and advertising.

  • Jennifer
    June 5, 2015 12:09am

    I love baking bread. My “bible” is a little paperback by James Beard – “Beard on Bread.” He sums up almost every recipe by writing that the given bread is particularly good “with plenty of good, sweet butter.” It was amusing to read those same words in your post, too. Honestly, bread and butter, what could be better? I’ll be trying out this recipe soon!

  • Jane
    June 5, 2015 12:13am

    Weighing flour–for this lovely recipe, how many ounces of the Irish whole wheat flour, as opposed to the 3.5 cups? I’m passionate about weighing. Powdery flour is estimated at 6 oz/cup. Same for rough-ground? Love the recipe, the blog, the whole thing!

  • June 5, 2015 12:30am

    Yum! That looks delicious. All it needs is some good quality butter!

  • Kae
    June 5, 2015 12:52am

    I literally can’t even read the recipe because the page automatically scrolls to the stupid ads! :( The pictures look so good… why is this happening!!!?

  • Gavrielle
    June 5, 2015 1:33am

    This looks divine – love the method for getting a crispy crust. I was surprised by Robert’s comment about the toasted flavour from stonegrinding, though, as my understanding is that stoneground flour is better than rollerground because it creates less heat in the milling than roller grinding (and therefore doesn’t turn the oil in the germ rancid). Perhaps they mill at supersonic speeds in Ireland:).

  • Virginia
    June 5, 2015 2:43am

    Love making simple breads and when I noticed I had all the ingredients, I had to make it right away. I followed the recipe, used one packet of dry yeast and it came out great. My husband and I are enjoying it right now. Too bad it is dinner time and we can’t enjoy it with lots of good coffee. Hope it is still great tomorrow for breakfast!

  • Tracey
    June 5, 2015 3:44am

    I am going to make this right now! I am going to grind my own wheat berries but keep the flour a little coarser, I am sure that’ll work.
    I also had a problem with the ads, finally had to disable javascript and plugins in browser just so I could read with out the page jumping up to the ad over and over.

  • Oonagh
    June 5, 2015 3:59am

    Many thanks for this. I am Irish and make soda bread with my son but our recipe is different – we will try this one as it sounds better than ours.

  • Cheryl
    June 5, 2015 4:25am

    David, I can’t thank you enough for this recipe! I just returned from a wonderful vacation to Ireland, and I loved the brown soda bread everywhere. Going to place my flour order now!

  • June 5, 2015 7:19am

    Honey-Bunches, you had me at the word, bread! Glorious, divine and the absolute accompaniment to ANY meal.

    I’ll definitely be making this one. (Funny side note, it took me years to brave my first Irish Soda Bread. It was such a smashing success I think I baked it three times in one week. Eventually I would convert it to a scone recipe, adding caraway seeds, orange zest and a pinch of cinnamon.)
    It’s definitely the crunch factor and the healthy hardiness of soda breads that keep us coming back for more.

  • June 5, 2015 8:24am

    Stop writing about Ballymaloe! I was there a few years back and still can’t stop talking about the farm, the food, Darina and Tim Allen, the shell grotto and on and on. People forget the Blarney Stone and spend your time at Ballymaloe. This maybe the year I get back and David thank you for telling more people in the world about this wonderful place.

  • June 5, 2015 8:39am
    David Lebovitz

    Tracey and Kae: Apologies for those. They’re aren’t supposed to show up on the site (or block content) but they are sneaking in there and we’re playing whack-a-mole getting them to stop. Unfortunately it’s happening to a number of websites with ad networks across the internet but we’re all trying to get to the source and block those from appearing.

    Jennifer: Yes, that is a great book. I have it in the old mini-paperback version!

    Joseph: Thanks. I’ve been trying to make the posts shorter (but on this one, I knew readers would have questions) – but guess I shouldn’t omit adjectives ; )

  • slaney mullen
    June 5, 2015 9:28am

    Great write up on delicious wholemeal yeast bread.
    I must add though when I have to make bread quickly in the morning, nothing beats soda bread.
    Pasture buttermilk and Howards whole-meal flour for me
    The quicker it gets to the oven the better
    It never stick either

  • June 5, 2015 10:21am

    What a wonderful piece! Always interesting to see how much of a dish is down to technique and how much is down to specific local ingredients. I love that you describe the dough as “shaggy” :) And what a mighty fine loaf you produced!

  • June 5, 2015 5:11pm

    Thank you for this great recipe. I have been looking for a quick whole grain bread recipe and this seems to be the one. Will be giving this a try once all the current bread in the house is finished

  • Joseph
    June 5, 2015 10:46pm

    Super good, especially given how little work it is.

    For Americans, another flour alternative is Graham flour. I always thought it was stuff used just for making graham crackers and pie crusts. But upon visiting my local health food store (The Food Mill, Oakland) to shop for making this bread, I learned it is in fact just whole wheat flour where the bran and germ were ground coarsely. Wholemeal is obviously still best (the endosperm ground coarsely as well), but I thought my Graham version came out reasonably rugged and Irish-y.

  • Guy
    June 6, 2015 2:15am

    I love Irish soda bread, but this isn’t soda bread. There’s no soda in it. Instead, it relies on yeast to rise, which makes it a yeast bread.

    • Cerberus
      June 6, 2015 5:16am

      Which is why he calls it a “brown yeast bread”, not a soda bread :)

      • Guy
        June 9, 2015 2:45am

        In a column all about brown soda breads.

  • June 6, 2015 4:46am

    As another comment noted, I thought soda bread means chemical leavener, not yeast. It’ll still be bread whatever you call it, though.

    I have a Darina Allen cookbook with a soda bread recipe in it. “Bastible Bread”, it’s called, and made in a cast iron skillet. It was excellent, better than other soda bread recipes I’ve tried. That recipe was mostly whole wheat/buttermilk/baking soda.

  • Terry Covington
    June 6, 2015 12:27pm

    In one sentence you sum up so much about some of the current food debates: “Authenticity is a noble cause but we shouldn’t be beholden to it.” I wanted to cheer reading most of this post, because not only are you obviously honoring the original place and recipe, but you repeatedly get the point across that cooking is a very individual thing, and tied in to our own places as well. I am always impressed by how much you put into your posts – research, testing, detailed descriptions, humor, photos, and then even answering questions and comments in detail. Thank you so much!

  • Cecilia
    June 6, 2015 5:36pm

    Would you be able to tell me where I could find a ‘pottery’ salt pig? I broke mine a couple of weeks ago ( from a potter in Devon 25 years ago) and I’d like to find one similar to the one you have pictured above
    .
    Your blogs are a joy to read and I have especially enjoyed this one.

    • Lesli
      June 7, 2015 12:50am

      @Cecila – You might try Etsy. I saw several nice versions on that website recently. Good luck!

  • Lesli
    June 7, 2015 12:59am

    What a thrilling find – this site and your Irish brown bread! Stumbled my way here while researching apricot kernels, but have been searching for a simple hearty bread recipe to use for experimentation. I am grinding my own grains again after years of not doing so, and trying many variations on the grain (einkorn, millet, buckwheat, even chickpea) just because I think it will be a fun exploration (after, of course, I have mastered the basic version). I know there will be some – ooops, what was I thinking? – along the way, but that’s the fun of it, right? Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insight on an impressive blog!

  • LaurenC
    June 7, 2015 2:06am

    Made it last night – it was delicious! Used whole wheat flour, substituted 4 tbsps for wheat germ and used regular yeast. Worked perfect, loved the trick of taking the bread out of the pan and cooking upside down! Made for an even crust. It would also be fantastic with some sourdough starter… :)

  • Anne
    June 7, 2015 4:46am

    I followed your Instagram photos of your time at Ballymaloe with great interest, so I was delighted to see a recipe from Ballymaloe. Just took a loaf of this bread out of the oven, and it is heavenly! Especially spread with a bit of French cultured butter and some flaky salt.

    I was unable to find coarsely ground wheat flour in my area on short notice, so until I can get some online, I went out on a limb: cornmeal. I sifted out the coarse bits of some medium-grind cornmeal and swapped the coarse cornmeal for some flour in the hopes of getting more of the crunchy texture you describe. Certainly not traditional, but I guessed that it would change the texture more than it changed the taste. Well-received so far! Here are the amounts I used in place of the 400g whole wheat flour (all other quantities were the same):

    – 20g wheat germ
    – 50g coarse cornmeal
    – 330g whole wheat flour

    I also sprinkled some of the cornmeal over the top of the dough once it went into the pan.

  • June 7, 2015 1:15pm
    David Lebovitz

    Anne and LaurenC: Thanks for your feedback. Both of your loaves are really in the spirit of the bread. The cornmeal sounds great, as does the wheat germ. Enjoy the bread!

  • Cathy
    June 7, 2015 6:29pm

    Thank you for this recipe and the wonderful post! I made this bread yesterday and it turned out heavenly! I had to use KAF whole wheat flour which isn’t coarse, but it still worked out beautifully. It is amazing how simple the recipe is. The only hard thing about making this bread is waiting for it to cool, but it is so worth the wait : ) I will be making this on a regular basis. I was wondering if I could also make a lighter version by using honey instead of molasses for a change every once in a while…anyone have any thoughts on that?

  • Jeanne
    June 7, 2015 9:56pm

    If I’m not mistaken, there is a typo in regard to the weight in metrics and the cup equivalents regarding the water. Love the recipe, by the way!

    • June 7, 2015 10:37pm
      David Lebovitz

      Can you let me know what that is? I used their metric conversions, not mine, and can correct it if you let me know what is wrong. Thanks.

      • Jeanne
        June 8, 2015 10:21am

        Hi David, the initial 50ml. is a little more than 5 oz., as opposed to 4 oz. for the half cup. The 275 ml. of water is a little less than 10 oz., a cup and a half, 12 oz. is about 340 ml. As an aside,
        I noticed that their measuring cup is in imperial measurements, a pint in imperial is 20 oz. and of course in U.S. measurements 16 oz.

      • Jeanne
        June 8, 2015 11:39am

        Correction…my typo…meant to refer to 150 ml. of water, not 50ml.

  • Joan Harvey
    June 8, 2015 12:20am

    I’ve made the Beard bread for years, most recently using Bob’s Red Mill stone ground whole wheat flour, which is terrific. I really want to find cast iron loaf pans and think they would work well with this bread.
    It looks as if you’ve finally got a copy editor, or maybe a new one; it’s so much easier to read than before.

  • Mary
    June 8, 2015 4:51am

    David your post reminded me of breakfast at the Australian boarding school I attended. As it was run by the Irish Loreto nuns, they baked soda bread (we called it Loreto brown bread) every day except Sunday!!!! Sunday was white toast – a real treat we thought then. We had the soda bread with lashings of butter and honey and everyone was addicted. Not good when they burnt it though.

    Their bread was a couple of centimetres thick and baked in large squares. Their recipe: mix (not knead) together 1 kg wholemeal SR flour, 100g butter, 40g baking powder (or 200g cream tartar and 100g bi-carb soda), 10 g salt and ½ litre milk. Roll to 1 inch thick and bake 250 c oven for 20 mins.

    Will compare your recipe with the Loreto Brown Bread as I managed to find some local stoneground whole wheat flour.

  • Catriona
    June 8, 2015 10:34pm

    Ha – how many others thought this was a SODA bread? I left it loose-form on a silicone mat, not owning a loaf tin, and just pulled it out of the oven, the flattest flat bread ever. Still, smells delicious, and hopefully will taste just fine with butter and jam. I used a 12 grain flour from Bulk Barn (Canada), and 1 sachet of dry yeast.

  • June 10, 2015 12:54pm

    I always enjoy reading about your travels and am almost always introduced to something new with each post. Thank you for sharing!

  • June 10, 2015 6:52pm

    This is another post I had to postpone – or I wd have needed another breakfast. The baker in your pics looks so much like our choir conductor we had in Devon that it’s each time I come back like an unreal (and pleasant) shock. ‘My’ friend passed away about 2yrs ago so it’s very unlikely, but still!
    In UK it was not overly difficult to get good bread in the 2000th but before it was nigh impossible. We got our deft, compact & utterly delicious loaves from the Totnes market where a group of a TRIBE living in the Taunton area sold their products. My freezer was always carrying some of their bread.
    On the other hand, my son said: Mum, no matter what you say about the different qualities of the French bread (baguettes), they are still so much better than anything they sell here under that name…. so, mustn’t complain – and it’s true, we are blessed with great, great bread too.
    Your guidance through this bread-making is incredibly wonderful. Thank you.

  • P.K
    June 10, 2015 8:03pm

    I baked this bread yesterday. It is wonderful. I used Mary Jo’s adaption because I only had dry yeast and regular organic whole wheat flour. I had it for breakfast toasted, excellent. For lunch made an open faced sandwich. The successful outcome is even more special because I have an unreliable oven. Thank you for posting this and the links. I will be making this bread often.

  • Kate
    June 12, 2015 10:00pm

    This turned out perfectly and was SO easy! I used the King Arthur Irish wheat flour, active dry yeast and just lined a metal pan with parchment which worked fine as I do not have a nonstick pan. I will make this often, thank you David!!

  • Robi
    June 14, 2015 1:18am

    I just received the Irish style ground flour from King Arthur flour company yesterday. Looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks David for keeping my interest in cooking alive ! My sons are all grown, married and their wives are all good cooks……
    Now that I have more time, I now have an interest in food/cooking, wine and , of course, chocolate related travel thanks to you.
    If only I can get on your next tour list….it fills so fast ! I’ll keep trying tho..

  • Oliver
    June 16, 2015 12:13pm

    Hi David,

    thanks for posting.

    Perhaps you know that we germans are somehow famous for our bread.

    Of course its an easy recipe, but in my opinion there is too much yeast in this bread. The recipes I am using – and I am baking bread for years now – are using not more than 2-3 g of yeast.

    And if you have some time let rest the dough much longer, appr. up to 24 hours, its worth the taste.

    Thanks for mentioning the use of stoneground flour. I think its the better flour than the highly commercial products, but I can be wrong. I am using only stoneground flours from a local mill, its not more expensive surprisingly.

  • June 16, 2015 6:43pm

    Making bread is such a rewarding and relaxing process – you did such a lovely job capturing that with the photos. Looking forward to trying this recipe! I recently purchased a mill and have been using it for pain au levain and cookies. I’m wondering how course the settings should be for this bread, hmm. And your thought to refrigerate the dough is a great one. Since cold fermentation allows the bread to develop a more complex flavor, that could help give a boost to “regular” flour if people can’t find or order the authentic kind.

  • Alison
    June 16, 2015 10:48pm

    Thank you so much for this post — I grew up eating at an irish inspired restaurant in Vermont (Simon Pearce, if anyone else is familiar?), and the recipe on their website makes like a dozen loaves. When I ammended it, I was left with the worst brick of bread ever. I dream about Ballymaloe with good salty butter… I’m doing this tonight.

  • Liz
    June 17, 2015 2:46am

    I’ve been making a very similar bread once a week for a couple of years now using 1 1/4 cups each of stoneground whole wheat flour and rolled oats and 1 cup of unbleached white flour with 1 packet of fast acting yeast. I always sprinkle the top with toasted ground sesame seeds. I’ll definitely be trying this version next week to change it up. Thank you!

  • Lariska
    June 18, 2015 11:58pm

    Hi David,
    thank you so much for this recipe. I had no idea that making bread could be so easy. Being French, I am passionate about bread. I’ve just arrived in New Zealand where the standard is not quite the same. This recipe saved my life. So far I used regular wholemeal flour and the bread came out very good. I’ll try to find affordable stoneground flour soon!

  • Miranda
    June 26, 2015 4:00am

    Hello from Hong Kong!

    I make this and it was fabulous! I substituted 1 teaspoon of treacle (which I couldn’t find) for golden syrup and it turned out well. I also used one sachet of dry yeast which was also fine. Can’t seen to find fresh yeast anywhere here.

    My French boyfriend loved it BTW. We ate it warm with salted butter and jam fresh out of the oven and then had it for dinner with butter, tomatoes, avocado, good quality sardines, a dash of sea salt and a cold crisp glass of semillon.

    Yum!