The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

Irish Bread Galore

We had been thinking recently about writing an article to do with Irish/Northern Irish traditional food. We could have had hearty food such as stew, champ, colcannon and boxty. We could also have had the very strangely named vegetable roll which still puzzles Martha who isn’t from around these parts! She thought she was getting something healthy the first time I gave her it so was rather bemused when she bit into what tasted like a sausage! Apparently it contains leeks, which makes it qualify as a vegetable product. Christmas dinner contains parsley in its stuffing so it probably qualifies as a salad in Ireland by that reasoning! In the end we decided to downscale slightly, for now at least, and talk about that other favourite food type … Irish bread! Bread is something which plays a huge part in Martha’s diet and her German background makes her something of an expert and she certainly knows her baps from her baguettes!

So what are our favourite local Irish bread types? We are going to concentrate on our five personal favourites so apologies to any fans of the humble Belfast bap or blaa. Yes there really is a type of bread called blaa. Can you just imagine walking into a bakery and asking for a blaa! First up on our favourite five list is probably the bread most associated with Ireland/Northern Ireland past and present …

5 Soda Bread

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

It is believed that soda bread dates back to around 1840 in Ireland. Native American Indians however are believed to have made a version of soda bread centuries ago using wood ashes to make the bread rise. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt and buttermilk. In the early days soda bread would have been made over an open fire and this tradition undoubtedly still continues in some remote parts of the country. Soda bread now comes in a variety of forms … most commonly as a farl or a bannock. The photo below is of a soda farl and we would normally have it toasted with melted cheese on it or with bacon and fried egg. It’s even delicious just toasted with some real butter! It is of course also a main component of the traditional Ulster breakfast fry. How do you like your soda bread? Second up is another classic Irish bread …

If you would like to learn how to make soda bread, have a look at our video here, where we teach you the traditional recipe.

4 Potato  Bread

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

As with soda bread, potato bread has been a major component of the Irish diet for many years. Its main ingredients are potatoes, all purpose flour, butter and salt. It is more commonly made into a thin, flat farl shape as per our photo. It is sometimes called potato cake or fadge. As with soda bread we like it toasted with bacon and fried egg as an occasional treat and, needless to say, it is also a major part of any Ulster fry.
In third place we have what is a less well known bread …

3 Veda Bread

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

Veda bread is a small caramel coloured, malted bread with a soft consistency. It was actually invented in Gleneagles in Scotland in 1904 but for some reason Northern Ireland is the only place, we’re told, where it is still made. People from Northern Ireland, travelling to visit relatives around the world, will sometimes pack a couple of veda loaves in their suitcase to bring their relatives a taste of home. We have never been able to do this, as you couldn’t fit a scone in our suitcase when we travel – let alone veda loaves! Nigel has been a fan of veda going back many years and likes it when it’s very fresh with butter and cheddar cheese or even with banana … he blames his mother for that peculiarity! Martha has been a more recent convert and likes it toasted with cheese and jam … equally weird we agree! Nigel once visited a restaurant in a small town in Sweden called Hästveda and his lunch came with what looked and tasted like veda bread. Veda bread in a town called Hästveda … had he discovered the birthplace of veda? Turned out to be just a coincidence or so he was told! In second place is a rather strangely named Irish bread.

2 Barmbrack

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

Barmbrack is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins. The dough is sweeter than that of sandwich bread but not as rich as cake. It’s Gaelic name is bairin breac which literally means a speckled loaf. In Nigel’s opinion there is only one way to have it and that is simply toasted with butter …. delicious! Last but certainly not least is what Nigel considers to be the worlds greatest bread …

1 Wheaten Bread

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties

Nigel will admit to having a slight addiction to it and is something of a wheaten bread connoisseur. He has sampled them from a variety of shops and bakeries in his quest for the perfect wheaten. As with soda bread and potato bread, the best ones are found in small local independent bakeries. Shops are ok when it comes to veda bread and barmbrack but shop bought prepacked soda, potato and wheaten bread are a poor second best. It should be soft in the middle but have a slightly crusty outer layer. At its freshest Nigel likes it either just buttered, with cheese or jam and accompanying a salad … it’s also delicious toasted! It is often served with soup in restaurants, so give it a go if you’ve never tried it!
We hope you enjoyed our look at our top five breads. Please let us know what your favourites are and if you have any bizarre toppings … we bet you do! Have to say we’re feeling hungry after all that talk of delicious bread so we’re off to raid the bread bin in the kitchen!

Do you agree with Nigel on his choice of favourite bread? If not, which one is your fave?

Disclaimer. No loaves or farls were harmed in the making of this article but Nigel and Martha put on a couple of kilos!

The 5 most delicious Irish bread varieties



  1. Robena
    September 10, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    You hit the nail on the head Nigel. Love all five of those breads. Would love some Veda but unfortunately I can’t get it in Ontario, Canada.
    I make my own soda and potato bread in the winter. Another bread I like and can buy at the British Store over here is Soreen Malt loaf.

    • baybreezin
      September 10, 2017 / 10:17 pm

      My uncle in Markham Ontario really misses wheaten bread. You’d think someone would open an Irish bakery over there and supply stores. Bound to be a demand. He likes the Persian bakeries near him though.

  2. Helen Ahearn
    September 11, 2017 / 11:57 am

    I love Wheaten Bread, never seen the recipe, only see soda bread or Barmbrack, which neither liked. have several Irish small food books, none with Wheaten Bread recipe. Would some one give Wheaten Bread recipe, please! Have always requested it at B&B’s if they had it. When asked the evening before, “What would you like for breakfast?” Would say just brown bread and coffee, and fried egg. That would be perfect! Hope some small B&B’s still make it.

    • Robena
      September 11, 2017 / 10:56 pm

      Try this one. 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 cups white flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 cups buttermilk or sour milk (add 1 tablespoon vinegar to milk). Sift all dry ingredients and add milk. Turn (fold) on floured board and shape into 2 rounds. Mark each round with a deep cross on top with back if knife. Bake on floured cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 25 mins. Test with toothpick to see if cooked. Cool on rack.

      • baybreezin
        September 11, 2017 / 11:28 pm

        Thanks Robena. I’ll pass it on 🙂

      • October 8, 2017 / 8:48 pm

        Thank you for the recipe, will try it. Like all Irish bread… the ingredients are pure that’s why it tastes so good.

        • baybreezin
          October 8, 2017 / 9:54 pm

          Pleasure Margaret. Hope it turns out well!

    • October 9, 2017 / 1:34 am

      Irish Wheaten Bread

      0.49 kg All-purpose Flour
      222 ½ grams Whole meal Flour
      102 grams steel cut oats
      125 grams rolled oats
      22 ½ grams Baking Soda
      5 grams Kosher Salt
      1.47 kg lowfat buttermilk

      Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour buttermilk over. Mix with a wooden spoon. Grease 9×5 bread pans. Place pans on scale and weigh out desired amount of batter. Sprinkle top with steel cut or rolled oats. Bake according to notes.

      Servings/Yield: 3
      1100-1200g per large bread pan
      Bake at 400℉ for 20 minutes. Turn pans. Bake another 20 minutes.

      • baybreezin
        May 14, 2018 / 8:04 pm

        Thanks Mary. Yes I sometimes see it called that. I was just always used to calling it wheaten 🙂

  3. September 13, 2017 / 11:54 am

    I’ve never heard of Veda, Barmbrack or wheaten bread – so good to learn more! Will definitely keep an eye out and give them a try if I see them now.

    • baybreezin
      September 13, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Thanks so much for the comment Vicky. We have some delicious bread here which wouldn’t be known outside of Ireland by many people.

  4. Loraine Connor
    September 13, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    Would you have the recipe for veda please?

    • baybreezin
      September 13, 2017 / 6:12 pm

      I’m an eater not a baker sadly Lorraine 😄. I’m sure there are some online so it may be a case of trial and error.

      • Robena
        September 14, 2017 / 1:38 am

        Thanks Nigel. I will try this in a few weeks when I am not so busy.

    • September 16, 2017 / 10:13 am

      Lightly toasted dip in melted butter lightly sugared top with fresh strawberry and raspberry with some ice cream from Maud’s

      • baybreezin
        September 16, 2017 / 10:29 am

        Now you’ve made me hungry Stephen 🙁

  5. Lester Crothers
    September 16, 2017 / 8:35 am

    Veda makes the perfect banana sandwich. It is also fabulous toasted with Roses lime marmalade.

    • baybreezin
      September 16, 2017 / 10:25 am

      Both wonderful Lester. I consider it a slight sin however to toast a very fresh squishy veda 😄

    • baybreezin
      September 16, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Both delicious Lester but when very fresh it’s a shame to toast it in my opinion 😄

  6. Marion Magee
    October 8, 2017 / 11:10 pm

    Wheaten Bread Recipe

    3 Cups Oatmeal (breakfast oats)
    2 Cups Wholewheat flour
    1 teasp. Baking Soda
    2 teasp Baking Powder
    I teasp Salt

    Mix all dry ingredients & then add 1litre of Buttermilk & stir until just mixed…
    Divide into 2 loaf pans….

    Mixture will be wet, but that’s ok…
    I like a little sugar added, but that is optional…

    Hope you enjoy….
    I like to sprinkle some flakemeal on top & sometimes I add a few spoonfuls of Chia Seed…


    • baybreezin
      October 9, 2017 / 12:15 am

      Thanks for that Marion 🙂

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