brown soda bread

Epicurious reviewers get a lot of flack for their “I made 8 million changes to the recipe and hated it” habit, but in general, I find them completely awesome. Without their unequivocal positive reviews, I wouldn’t have chosen this recipe at all, or I at least would have modified it.

I started to have doubts about the recipe when I was measuring out the ingredients. It’s a quick bread with just two little tablespoons of fat, plus all sorts of whole grains. I was sorely tempted to add another couple tablespoons of butter, but I put my faith in the reviewers who loved the recipe. Honestly, if I hadn’t already eaten two green velvet cupcakes that day, I’m sure I would have doubled the butter.

But I resisted, and it was the right decision. Why am I always surprised when healthy food tastes good? Not only is half of the flour whole wheat, but the recipe includes some wheat bran, wheat germ, and oats for good measure, not to mention that barely there amount of butter.

Somehow, with only 2 tablespoons of butter and nearly 4 cups of flour, over half of it whole grain, this bread wasn’t dry, dense, bitter, or bland. It was the slightest bit sweet, sturdy but soft, perfect smeared with butter and jam or dipped in the cooking liquid from corned beef and cabbage. Who knew that a low fat, whole grain quick bread could be so great? Fortunately for me, I guess those epicurious reviewers did.

One year ago: Chicken Artichoke Pesto Calzones
Two years ago: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Printer Friendly Recipe
Brown Soda Bread (adapted slightly from Bon Appetit via

I toasted the wheat germ, wheat bran, and for good measure, the oats, in a small skillet over medium heat until they smelled nutty, which took just a couple of minutes.

1¾ cups (8.4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1¾ cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons toasted wheat bran
3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups (about) buttermilk

1. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, bran, wheat germ, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine meal. Stir in enough buttermilk to form a soft dough. Knead the dough slightly to form a cohesive mass and transfer it to the prepared pan. Shape into a round, then, using a bread knife, cut two 1-inch-deep slashes into the dough, forming a cross.

3. Bake until the loaf is dark brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan to a cooling rack and let it cool about 30 minutes before serving.


  1. Looks amazing! Quick clarification though, when you say “Rub the flour into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine meal. ” Do you mean to say rub the BUTTER into the dry ingredients? I think so but I just thought I’d ask! Thanks!

  2. bridget says:

    Lulu – Ack, yes, that makes far more sense, doesn’t it? Thanks for catching that!

  3. Delicious and healthy? Sign me up!