This easy Irish soda bread in a cast iron pan is the perfect whole-grain bread to eat with a pat of butter alongside Irish stew! This simple quick bread takes only minutes to mix together and bakes into a golden brown Irish soda bread full of flavor and nutrition.
I first had traditional Irish soda bread when I studied abroad in England in college. Yes, I’m aware that England isn’t Ireland, but… that’s where I first had this amazing bread! It was much more easy to come by there, and growing up in the rural midwest it was just not something we commonly ate.
I immediately loved it. It’s crispy, crunchy crust really got me hooked, plus the slight tang in its flavor. Not to mention that this delicious bread is super easy to make with only simple ingredients!
As much as I love baking sourdough, sometimes you realize dinner is in an hour and it would be nice to have a loaf of fresh bread. That’s where this whole meal Irish soda bread comes in! It is the easiest bread–you can mix it together in 5 minutes, bake for 40….boom! A loaf of fresh homemade bread to accompany your dinner.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Traditional soda bread, or Irish brown bread, is a humble bread made with just four ingredients: whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.
In the US, most of our bagged flour is made from hard wheat varieties, and traditional soda bread is best made with soft wheat. Luckily for us, whole grain soft wheat is sold under the label “whole wheat pastry flour.”
If you enjoy milling your own flour, you can make it yourself by purchasing soft white wheat. This recipe has been tested with both bagged whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill), as well as fresh milled flour. It works great with both!
Irish soda bread is leavened with baking soda, not yeast. That’s what makes this bread so quick to make, and the baking soda contributes to the bread’s characteristic taste.
I use a small amount of butter (2 tbsp) and molasses (1 1/2 tbsp) to help caramelize the natural flavors of the whole wheat flour in this loaf. However, they are not considered part of the traditional recipe.
Baking this rustic bread in a cast iron skillet is my preferred method, but you can also use a Dutch oven or baking sheet. This is the perfect bread to make for St. Patrick’s Day and you can serve it alongside my Irish Pork Stew with Guinness and Caraway Seeds.
This simple recipe needs only a few ingredients. To make this rustic whole wheat Irish soda bread in cast iron pan, you need:
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (ie: soft white wheat) – This whole grain flour is lower in protein and lighter in color than traditional whole wheat flour made with hard red wheat. This lower protein flour is key to a great texture that isn’t too dense for this quick bread recipe.
- Buttermilk – Real buttermilk gives the bread its characteristic tang.
- Cold Butter – This recipe calls for cutting in a small amount of cold butter because in my testing, I found the small amount helpful for improving the overall flavor and texture of this whole-grain bread.
- Molasses – A small amount of molasses carmelizes the rich, delicious flavors of the whole grains.
- Baking Soda as the leavening agent
- Salt for flavor
Follow the instructions below to make your own soda bread in a cast-iron skillet!
1. Preheat Oven & Prep Pan
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a 10-inch cast iron skillet with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Mix Dry Ingredients & Butter
Add the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
Using a cheese grater or zester, grate 2 tbsp of cold butter (28 grams) into the large mixing bowl. You can also cut the butter into cubes and cut it in with a fork or pastry cutter if you prefer. Give it a quick stir.
3. Add Wet Ingredients & Mix
Pour in the buttermilk followed by the molasses. Stir with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are evenly combined. This will be a very shaggy, sticky dough.
4. Shape & Score
Using a wet hand, gently scrape and shape the dough into a semi-smooth round loaf. This will not be perfect, that’s okay. Pour the dough ball out onto the parchment paper in the cast-iron skillet and use a wet hand to smooth out the top. Use a sharp knife to score the top of the loaf deeply in a cross pattern.
Bake the bread uncovered at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 400F and bake for 20 minutes longer.
6. Check Temp & Cool
At the end of the bake time, test the interior temperature of the center of the bread with a meat thermometer to make sure it is between 205-210 degrees F. This bread will look done long before it is, so I highly recommend testing the temperature. If it is not baked enough, you may get a gummy loaf.
Cool bread on a wire rack.
Tips & Variations
This Irish soda bread in cast iron pan does have a delightfully hard & crunchy crust with a chewy, tender crumb. Because of the whole grain flour, the molasses, and the high temperature, the top of your bread may look like it’s browning quickly. I have tested this many times and once you lower the heat to 400F, the browning stops.
That said, everyone’s oven is different. If your oven runs very hot, you may want to keep an eye on the bread and cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil partway through baking if needed. I would not shorten the baking time or lower the temperature as the bread seems to need that full amount of bake time to reach 205F.
This recipe makes 12 servings. For one serving of this recipe, the nutritional info is as follows:
- Calories: 193
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Carbs: 36 grams
Store bread in an airtight container. This breast is best eaten within 1-3 days after baking.
Leave a Comment and Review!
If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and review! I would love to know how it went for you! Also, feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread in Cast Iron Pan
- 1 10-inch Cast Iron Skillet
- 500 grams whole wheat pastry flour (soft white wheat) roughly 3 1/2 cups
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp cold butter
- 2 cups low fat buttermilk about 2 1/4 cups
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsulphered molasses
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Cover the bottom of a deep 10-in cast iron skillet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Grate the 2 tbsp of cold butter into the flour mixture and stir. You can also cube the butter and cut it into the flour with a fork as needed.
- Pour in the buttermilk and molasses and mix with a wooden spoon until no dry bits of flour remain. Avoid over-mixing.
- Wet your hands and gently shape the dough into a semi-smooth ball. It is a sticky dough and this will not be perfect (that's okay). Use a wet hand to scrap the sticky dough onto the parchment paper in the bottom of the cast iron skillet and smooth out the top of the loaf. Score into quarters with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 450, then drop the temperature to 400 degrees. Continue baking at 400 for 20 more minutes. Before turning off your oven, be sure to test the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it reaches 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit. This break looks done on the outside before the inside is.
- Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.