Adare-Inspired Hankering for Irish Brown Soda Bread

Desmond Castle, Adare, IrelandDesmond Castle, Adare, Ireland.

Welcome to Adare, Ireland, one of Ireland’s prettiest villages (at least according to websites I visited) and home to Desmond Castle, Adare Manor Hotel (built as a family home for the 2nd Earl of Dunraven), and loads of quaint thatched cottages.

On our first day in Ireland, I planned a stop in Adare to enjoy the village and have dinner on the way from Cork to our hotel located just north of Limerick. Little did we know that amazingly delicious Irish brown soda bread was just waiting for us.

Desmond Castle, Adare, Ireland

On the way into town, we passed Desmond Castle as we crossed over the river Maigue. This lovely view definitely set a pleasant tone. Just beyond the river was a gatehouse for Adare Manor. We could not see the manor from the road and the gate was closed, so we continued into the pretty village of Adare.

Thatched Cottage, Adare, IrelandWe passed thatched cottages,

Adare Town Park, Adare, Irelandand the town park,

Thatched Cottage, Adare, Irelandand more thatched cottages before finding Pat Collins Bar, an inviting pub with an appetizing menu selection.

Irish Stew with Brown Soda BreadWe were impressed with the Irish stew. It came atop a mount of mashed potatoes, which you can’t see because they’re buried under all that wonderful stew. The potatoes could be scooped up with the stew acting as a gravy, or combined into the broth for a thicker soup.  But best of all was the buttered slices of Irish brown soda bread eaten alone or dipped in the stew. Oh my goodness!

During our Ireland trip, we found that Irish brown soda bread is served regularly at breakfast, which we enjoyed daily, and is available with some dishes at lunch and dinner. For instance, while on Dingle Peninsula, I had a Dingle crab sandwich served on brown soda bread and, while in Kinsale, we had a delicious smoked salmon appetizer served on buttered brown soda bread.

Returning home, I didn’t think it should be too difficult to find Irish brown soda bread locally, but I searched several bakeries and grocery stores before finally finding a loaf at Marks & Spencer.

M&S Irish Brown Soda BreadAlthough delicious, the M&S Irish brown soda bread was not the same as the freshly baked bread we’d enjoyed in Ireland. I’m not a baker, but I am determined, so I set out to make the bread myself.

After searching the Internet for recipes, I noticed that most were very similar with only minor variations. Given the consistency of the recipes, I figured it was a “six of one, half dozen of the other” type situation. Not so. I tried two different recipes and both weren’t quite right. For my third attempt, however, I combined the best of the two and came up with a recipe that resulted in a wonderful loaf of bread. The recipe is simple, requiring few ingredients and minimal prep time. I’ve now made this bread every weekend to go with breakfast and afternoon coffee. Mmmm!

Irish Brown Soda Bread


  • 340 g (appx. 2.5 cups)  wholemeal/whole wheat flour
  • 115 g (appx. 3/4 cup)    plain white flour
  • 1 tsp, level                       bread soda/baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp (pinch)               salt
  • 1                                         egg
  • 500 g (appx 1 pint)        buttermilk

Preheat oven to 160° C (slightly under 325° F or adjust baking time).

Irish Brown Soda Bread Dry IngredientsPlace all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a whisk until well blended. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

Buttermilk and EggIn a separate small bowl (I use a measuring cup), whisk egg and buttermilk until blended.

Irish Brown Soda Bread BatterPour wet ingredients into the well and incorporate using a spatula, scraping the sides and folding to keep air in the batter.

Irish Brown Soda Bread BatterUnlike traditional bread dough, the batter will look wet.

Irish Brown Soda Bread BatterPour the batter into a greased loaf tin. I just spray mine with cooking spray, which is simple and works quite well.

Irish Brown Soda Bread BatterSmooth out the batter, making sure that the batter fills the pan to the edges. If you like, you can top your loaf with nuts, seeds, or rolled oats.

Irish Brown Soda BreadCook for 55-6o minutes. When done, the loaf will be lightly browned on top and should sound hollow when tapped. You can also check for doneness using a skewer; the bread is done when the skewer is completely dry when removed.

Irish Brown Soda BreadAllow the loaf to cool, then slice to the desired thickness. I enjoy my bread with a slathering of Irish butter and a dollop of raspberry conserve.  Oh, boy!

Some other options I’ve read about that can be added to the batter to add variety include a splash of Guinness, a small amount of brown sugar, raisins and walnuts, or chopped dried fruit.

If you bake a loaf, let me know what you think and, if you incorporated any options, how they worked out.


About satnavandcider

An American expat living in England, exploring the United Kingdom and Europe through five senses and a camera lens.
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8 Responses to Adare-Inspired Hankering for Irish Brown Soda Bread

  1. leiah says:

    I have to find out if they have buttermilk here…I’m glad you found the recipe!

    • Buttermilk is not easy to find here and as I pulled several containers off the shelf the stock boy said that he didn’t see people buying buttermilk very often. Then again, I’ve only bought it to make this bread! I hope you can find buttermilk.

  2. Beautiful photos of a place I love and have yet to visit. It is in my heart! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • You’re welcome! 🙂 My husband just commented last night that it was a shame we only had time for dinner, because there was so much to see in Adare and we barely scratched the surface. If we’re in the area again, we hope to make Adare a destination. I’m really glad you enjoyed the photos and hope that you get to Adare someday soon.

  3. Hm, that looks like even I could do it. I might try it this weekend. Thanks! I’ve never had Irish brown soda bread, but I’ve had brown bread ice cream at Fado, an Irish pub here in Austin, and it’s delicious, so I’ll try anything that’s Irish and bread-related.

  4. Maryam says:

    Have been looking for a recipie similar to the marks and spencer one as I loved it when we lived in the Uk. Now I’m back in Australia, I’m so happy I can have this gorgeous bread again… Thanks soooooooo much for posting

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