Irish Wheaten Bread

A traditional Irish staple. I’ve had so many different versions of wheaten bread but none tops this one. It has that little hit of sweet but also savoury at the same time. My tip for a nice crust and light centre is to half steam, half bake it.

Makes 2 loaves


500g coarse wholemeal flour

125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon bread soda

1 teaspoon salt

600ml buttermilk, plus a little extra if necessary

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter, plus extra for greasing 1 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon porridge oats


Preheat the oven to 190°C/410oF/gas mark 6 and grease two 900ml loaf tins. Sift the flours, bread soda and salt into a bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk, brown sugar, melted butter and golden syrup. Using clean hands, mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency. Add a little bit more buttermilk if necessary – the mixture should bind together without being sloppy.

Divide the mixture equally between the loaf tins and sprinkle with the porridge oats. Most homes don’t have an oven that can half steam and half bake. So bake these on the top shelf for 45–50 minutes with a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create some steam. Check halfway through that the loaves aren’t browning too much. If they are, reduce the temperature or move the loaves down a shelf.

To check that the loaves are properly cooked, tip each one out of the tin and tap the base. It should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes. When cooked, tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

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