7 traditional Irish bread recipes for all occasions

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By Emma Grove / January 28, 2020

From fluffy and light to dense and grainy, these 7 Irish bread recipes span the spectrum of bread based possibilities. Whether you like it toasted or untoasted, with coffee or tea, these Irish bread recipes are sure to be the star of the show for your next morning meal!

Picture this: Ireland before potatoes. I know, it’s almost unfathomable. Yet those spuddy buddies didn’t make their way to Ireland’s rocky shores till the late 16th century. What did the poor souls eat before the dawn of the age of the Irish potato? The answer is bread. Lots and lots of glorious glutinous bread. The Anglo-Normans brought bread over to the Emerald Isle when they settled in Munster and Leinster in the 12th century.

When potatoes came into play, bread took a back seat for a while. That is until the famine, when it made a huge resurgence as a staple carb in the Irish diet. At this point, bread baking became somewhat of a family tradition with great regional development in bread styles and baking techniques. Curious to sample some of these baked beauties? Get in touch with your inner baker and try out some of these 7 Irish bread recipes yourself!

Soda Bread

If there was a king of Irish carbs, soda bread would reign supreme over all its loyal subjects. As we mentioned in our 9 Irish dessert recipes article, soda bread didn’t originate in Ireland. Instead this hearty loaf was born in North America where First Nations people would use potash [a.k.a baking soda] to leaven bread. However, much like the potato, soda bread made its way to the Emerald Isle in the 1840’s and it has claimed the hearts and stomachs of all who consume it. Don’t believe me? Try the most infamous of the Irish bread recipes and taste for yourself!

Ingredients
  • 580g plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 470ml cold buttermilk
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet or cake pan with baking parchment
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, soda, and salt 
  3. Stir in buttermilk until just combined and the dough is too stiff to stir
  4. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead with floured hands 5-10 times or until all the flour is moistened and dough has come together
  5. Form dough into a ball and place on the prepared pan, then cut an ‘x’ in the top about 0.5 cm deep 
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom
  7. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve

Wheaten Bread [Brown Bread]

The fraternal twin of soda bread, wheaten bread claims a close second in the race for carbohydrate king. This sweetened wholemeal version of the beloved soda bread is known as brown bread throughout southern Ireland meanwhile in northern territory the word ‘wheaten’ comes into play. This sweet and sumptuous textured loaf makes the perfect accompaniment to your morning cuppa, or try it out in this delicious Soda Bread Pudding! The wholemeal texture and nuttiness will make for a lovely dessert for your next party!

Ingredients
  • 350g wholemeal flour
  • 100g strong white flour
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • 1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1-2 tsp sugar to taste
  • 1-2 tsp salt to taste
  • 50g porridge oats
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7
  2. Whisk together flours, salt, sugar, soda, and oats in a large mixing bowl
  3. Pour in buttermilk and mix into a shaggy dough with your hands
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place on a greased baking tray
  5. Score the top of the dough with an X approx 3-4cm deep [this is to allow steam to escape]
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until bread produces a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom
  7. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving

Potato Farl

Tired of toast as the accompaniment to the most important meal of your day? Why not test out an Irish potato farl! The farl is a beautiful marriage of Ireland’s most popular starches: bread and potatoes. This hash brown-pancake Frankenstein creation has graced the platters of many a hungry soul and are a deliciously distinctive feature of an Ulster fry. While farls are usually served with savoury foods, the apple-potato farl is a specialty of Co. Armagh. It consists of a potato farl filled with a delightful applesauce-like filling. Whether you make them sweet or savoury, you can up your breakfast game by trying out our recipe for potato farls below!

Ingredients
  • 500g potatoes
  • 32g plain flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 28.4g butter/vegetable oil
Method
  1. Peel and quarter potatoes, then boil till they easily pierce with a fork
  2. Drain and mash potatoes till smooth, then and flour, butter/oil, and salt
  3. Mix ingredients till well combined, then shape dough into 4 equal balls
  4. Liberally flour work surface and roll out each dough ball to 2cm thick
  5. Heat a pan on medium heat with no oil, once it has come to temperature, sprinkle the pan with flour and add potato farls 
  6. Cook farls for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned, be sure to flour surface of the farl before flipping [to avoid sticking]
  7. Season with a bit of salt and serve alongside a big ol’ fry up
  • Why not try out these awesome Irish bread recipes with some vegetarian or vegan Irish recipes?

Barmbrack

We featured this one in our Irish dessert recipe article but it’s just so Irish we had to include it again. I mean it’s bread-based divination baked for Halloween, which also originated in Ireland. It’s basically as Irish as a bread can get. This sweet and fruity bread usually contains charms, such as coins or rings, which prophesies what will happen in the new year. Just be careful: these can be a health and safety risk, but who doesn’t love a little danger! Zesty, fruity, sweet, and bready, why not try out this glorious glutenous grub for your next afternoon cuppa!

Ingredients:
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 227g dark brown sugar
  • 500ml black breakfast tea, hot and strong
  • 426g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • A ‘charm’: (be careful as this is a choking hazard]
    • A dried pea [whoever receives this will not marry]
    • A piece of cloth [whoever receives this will have bad luck or be poor]
    • A coin [whoever receives this will have good fortune}
    • A ring [whoever receives this will be married within the year]
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 165°C/155°C fan/gas mark 3
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine raisins, sultanas, zests, and sugar
  3. Pour hot tea over raisin mixture and stir to combine. Cover with clingfilm and allow to stand overnight at room temperature
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and spices
  5. Alternate stirring in fruit mixture and beaten eggs and mix until well combined
  6. Wrap your charm in baking parchment and add it to the batter, then pour into a greased and baking parchment-lined cake pan
  7. Bake for 80-90 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back when pressed
  8. Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then release from the pan and let cool completely
  9. Slice and serve with butter

Waterford Blaa

It’s not boring. Nor is it a sheep. Instead it’s Waterford Blaa! This doughy white bun with its unusual moniker has been a staple of Waterford cuisine since the late 17th century. At this time there was a large population of Huguenots in Waterford who established bakeries all over the city. These bakers would piece together scraps of leftover dough and bake them into rolls for their families. This beautiful bread is thought to have come from the old french word for flour, blaad, and has become a breakfast staple across Waterford, with hungry residents consuming thousands on a daily basis. Want to try your hand at reproducing this gorgeous glutney treat? Try out the recipe below!

Ingredients
  • 142ml warm water
  • 14g active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 1tsp salt
  • 780g strong white bread flour
Method
  1. In a small bowl stir together warm water, yeast and sugar until dissolved. Let stand for 5-10 minutes or until foamy
  2. Add salt to flour and mix well
  3. Add warm water mixture in increments to the flour, stirring until a dough forms
  4. Once the dough comes together, turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth, elastic, and it stretched without breaking (this is called a  windowpane test)
  5. Place the dough into a large greased bowl and allow to proof in a warm area for one hour or until doubled in size
  6. Once dough has doubled in size, punch all of the air out, form it back into a ball and allow to proof again for 30 minutes
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and cut into 12 equal pieces
  8. Shape dough pieces into balls and place about 2 cm apart on a baking tray
  9. Cover rolls in cling film or a damp towel and allow to rise for 45min-1hour
  10. Preheat oven to 210°C/190°C fan/gas mark 5
  11. Dust the tops of the rolls with flour and bake for 25-35 minutes or until bottoms are crisp but the top remains rather pale
  12. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and serve

Batch Loaf

Like an Oreo but in bread form, the sixth dish on this Irish bread recipes list features a deep dark, almost blackened crust hiding a fluffy, white, soft-as-a-pillow interior. The term ‘batch’ comes from the loaves being baked together in batches, then torn into individual loaves once they’re done. This is why batch loaf doesn’t have any crusts on the side, unless it’s an edge piece of course. Sure you could pop to the shop to pick up a loaf of batch, but why not give it a go yourself and discover the other-worldly experience of hot-from-the-oven batch loaf?

Ingredients
  • 650g strong bread flour
  • 10g fine salt
  • 10g active dry yeast
  • 35g fat [traditionally beef drippings, but can use oil or melted butter instead]
  • 450ml warm water, split into two measures
Method
  1. Dissolve yeast into half of the warm water and let stand 5-10 minutes or until foamy
  2. In a large mixing bowl ad flour, salt, and fat, then stir in the yeast mixture and most of the second amount of water (leave a little bit out as the dough may not need it)
  3. Knead dough for 10 minutes in the bowl until dough comes together, leaving no flour on the sides. Dough should be slightly sticky and should pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl
    1. If the dough seems too dry as you knead, add water bit by bit till it’s adequately hydrated; Likewise if the dough is too wet, add flour
  4. Shape dough into a ball and place it into a bowl, cover with cling film or a damp towel and let rise in a warm area for about an hour or until doubled in size
  5. Once dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 4 equal portions
  6. Shape portions of dough into smooth balls and place into a greased and floured loaf tin, then cover with cling film/damp towel and let rise for 40min-1hr until bread has risen to the top of the tin
  7. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 250°C/230°C fan/gas mark 9 with a metal baking tray on the bottom shelf
  8. Once the oven has come to temperature, bring a kettle of water to a boil and fill the tray with boiling water 
  9. When the dough is ready, dust tops with flour and bake for 35 minutes. 
    1. After 20 minutes, check for colour on the tops of your bread. If the crust is too dark, reduce heat to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 – you want the top to be blackened but be careful
  10. Once baked and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, remove from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15-20 minutes, then serve

Veda Bread

Mr. Krabs would be envious at the secrecy surrounding one of the most illusive Irish bread recipes, the veda bread recipe. To this day it’s still a tiresome task locating a recipe for this magnificent malted loaf. Legend has it that veda bread was discovered in Dundee, Scotland, over 100 years ago but that doesn’t prevent this caramel loaf from claiming the hearts and stomachs of the Emerald Isle. That’s because it is only sold in its traditional form in Ireland, with many UK residents begging Irish relatives to send some over. As it is nearly an impossible task to locate a recipe for veda bread, we’ve pieced together several recipes we’ve come across and tried and tested till the loaf came out perfect.Try it out and see for yourself!

Ingredients
  • 450g White Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp roasted barley malt flour
  • 2 tsp nut brown malt flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 heaping tsp malt extract
  • 1 heaping tsp treacle
  • 200-250 ml warm water
  • 1 tsp warm treacle to glaze
Method
  • Whisk together flours, yeast, salt in a large mixing bowl until well combined, then add 200ml water, malt extract, oil, and treacle
  • Mix ingredients together by hand, if dough seems a bit dry add a splash of water until soft and slightly sticky dough forms
  • Turn dough out onto a work surface and rub with olive oil. Knead for 10 minutes until dough is elastic [press a finger into the centre of the dough, if it springs back mostly but still leaves a small dent it’s ready]
  • Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl covered with cling film or a damp towel, then allow to proof for about an hour or until doubled in size
  • Turn the dough out onto oiled work surface and punch down using your fingertips
  • Roll up the dough into a log, and then fold in thirds, then place into a loaf pan and press it into all sides and corners of the pan
  • Cover pan with cling film/damp towel and let proof for 30-40 minutes. Allow to rise until dough jiggles when the tin is shaken
  • Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7
  • Brush glaze over top of dough and bake for 30 minutes or until it makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom
  • Turn loaf out onto a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving

Whether you have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, these Irish bread recipes are sure to make your tastebuds sing. Try them out and let us know how it goes in the comments below! Have a favourite Irish bread recipe we forgot to mention? Put it in the comments!

Featured image: Kate Remmer

About the author

Emma Grove

Emma is a Californian-native, a food lover, and a Journalist for Babylon Radio. With a MA(Hons) from the University of Glasgow, Emma is interested in everything musical and cultural going on in Ireland!


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