Hearty Irish Soda Bread Pancakes

Corned beef and cabbage. Shepherd’s pie. Colcannon. Few things beat these classic Irish dishes for a hearty St. Patrick’s Day supper, but what if you want to start the day off with something special? Baking up a loaf of Irish soda bread right after rolling out of bed is, in theory, an option. But having to wait a couple of hours for the bread to finish baking and cooling can be excruciating, especially as the wonderful aromas waft throughout the kitchen. Sure, the loaf could be made the night before, but what if you wanted to whip together something that required no more effort than, say, pancakes?


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With that in mind, the recipe below reinterprets Irish brown soda bread as much quicker cooking pancakes that can be prepared from start to finish in about half an hour. When the slightly modified bread dough-turned-pancake batter is griddled rather than baked, the textural contrast of a crusty exterior and chewy-moist interior is lost, but much of the original flavor remains. Slightly denser than your average fluffy diner-style pancake, these are probably as close as you’ll ever get to good-for-you pancakes. 

Healthy and Delicious Breakfast

close up of wheat in field and lady bug

Rather than employing the bleached all-purpose flour that is a staple of regular buttermilk pancakes, a combination of whole-wheat flour and wheat germ are used instead. This duo offers a healthy, whole-grain alternative with a warm, nutty edge. Some brown soda breads also contain steel-cut oats and wheat bran, but for the sake of simplicity and a less toothsome texture, they’ve been omitted here. The wheat germ itself is already a great source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin E. And, as with the bread upon which it is based, baking soda and buttermilk work together here to provide the leavening for the pancakes.

While traditional Irish soda bread contains neither sugar nor currants or raisins, the Irish-American version often includes both. So does the following pancake recipe.  Whether or not to also add a pat of salted Irish butter and a drizzle of maple syrup on top is up to you. Pair the pancakes with a cup of strongly brewed Irish breakfast tea, and St. Patrick’s Day breakfast is served.

Irish Soda Bread Pancakes

If you can only find untoasted wheat germ, toast it yourself in a 350-degree oven just until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Because these pancakes already have some sweetness built in, use a light hand with the maple syrup: a little will go a long way.


olive oil jar and bowl

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup currants  

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus additional, as needed

Butter and maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Cooking Instructions

eggs being wisked

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the currants.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and butter.

3. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Let sit 5 minutes.

4. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Tilt the pan so the oil covers the pan evenly. Working in batches, drop the batter by the 1/4 cupful in 3 spots. Working quickly, use a rubber spatula to help spread the batter out so each pancake is about 4 inches in diameter. Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancakes over and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a large plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

5. Turn the heat down to medium-low and repeat with the remaining oil and batter. Serve immediately, with butter and maple syrup alongside, if desired.

Serves 4 (Makes 9 to 10 4-inch pancakes).