Recipes

castle breakfast

Every Saturday morning, which is blissfully later each year that my children have grown old enough to fend for themselves for a couple hours, we stumble out of bed and do these exact things in this exact order: Make Americanos in the Moka pot. Hard-boil several eggs and plunge them in very ice water so they’re not warm-centered (shudder) by the time we sit down. And then I mix up a simple wholegrain soda bread but bake it as scones, so it can be done in 15 minutes. We use these minutes to pull out all the fruit left in the fridge and cut it up; fanning it out on a platter makes us feel fancy, and not like it’s the dregs that were left at the bottom of the produce drawer. If we’re feeling ambitious, we juice a couple oranges. If we have grapefruits, I loosen the sections of a few (I’m team grapefruit knife, not spoon, not that you asked) halves. I’ve been known to slice up pears and blue cheese with walnuts when the craving hits in the winter, and or apples with sharp cheddar in the fall. In the summer, it’s an abundance of berries or stone fruit or melon, sometimes with homemade ricotta if I have it. If we have avocados, I like to slice them.* Then we nudge the kids to set the table, which always includes salted butter and apricot jam (my favorite), and, because I do not have any argument left in me by Saturday, Nutella and raspberry jam (everyone else’s).



We call it Castle Breakfast and we started this weekend ritual a few years ago when we stayed at a couple castles-turned-hotels in Ireland. I love fancy hotel breakfasts; the teapots and civility, the sunny rooms, the little jars of jam, the fresh fruit, so ideal for grazers like me. And I realized I wanted this very much to be part of every weekend, something to look forward to after the cold cereal and rushed mornings during the week. But only if I could do it in, like, 30 minutes tops. I’m neither a domestic goddess nor a morning person, although I bet they often come in the same package.

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When we came back from Ireland, I began my soda bread studies and I could go on and on but suffice it to say that some are darker, some are lighter, some are poured into loaf pans, some are baked as boule/rounds and I love them all. But when it came to my weekend breakfasts, the simplicity of the traditional formula* we’d learned taking a class at Ballymaloe Cookery School best suited my needs. It’s just flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. I swap half the white flour with coarse wholemeal (whole wheat) flour (more about this in a moment). I like that we’re getting a dose of whole grains in the morning and don’t need it to be sweet since they’re going to slather it with sweet stuff regardless. It’s also absolutely perfect with a pat of salted butter. We do not make these in advance. They’re fine the next day, I guess, if rewarmed. But they’re best right out of the oven, so why deny ourselves?

castle breakfast-07

If we’re not making brown bread scones, I’m making pancakes, crepes, dutch babies, or one of two recipes I owe you: popovers or a new waffle. This is because Castle Breakfast isn’t as much a recipe as it’s a philosophy. It’s about making days off feel special, about feeling as calm and doted on at home as you would in a fancy tearoom. It’s about feeling a tiny bit royalty, regardless of budget. I hope it feels good.

castle breakfast-08

A few things:

Ukraine I do not need to tell you how devastating the news is out of Ukraine right now. I’m forever inspired by the work of World Central Kitchen, who gets on the ground as soon as possible when there are humanitarian or environmental catastrophes anywhere in the world, set up mobile kitchens, and make sure people get hot meals, which we all understand the essentialness of. They’ve been on the ground at different border border points feeding those fleeing Ukraine for the last week and I wish it wasn’t necessary, but I am proud to support their work. [They also have a Charity Navigator rating of 100.] I set up fundraisers last weekend through the Smitten Kitchen Facebook and Instagram pages [who charge no processing fees and do not hold the money before dispersing it], hoping we might raise $5000 but I magnificently underestimated the kindness and generosity of SK readers. We’ve currently raised a combined $343K, and I am humbled and overwhelmed, watching this climb. These SK fundraisers run for another 3 weeks, should this sound like the kind of charity you, too, would like to support, but you can give through their website indefinitely, of course. [Donate to World Central Kitchen directly through their website, through the SK Facebook fundraiser, or through the SK Instagram fundraiser (you’ll need to open this post in the app to do so).]

Where else have I been? London! We did not, alas, stay at any castles but we sure did a lot. You can read about our week here.

Newsletter subscribers: If you are a subscriber to the Monday newsletter — and oh, I think you’d love it — I need to extend the hiatus by one more week (i.e. two weeks total) while I make some adjustments. Bear with me; these long-overdue changes are good ones.

Previously

6 months ago: Baked Farro with Summer Vegetables
1 year ago: Rigatoni alla Vodka
2 year ago: Perfect Vegetable Lasagna
3 year ago: Bodega-Style Egg and Cheese Sandwich and Chocolate Puddle Cakes
4 years ago: Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Korean-Braised Short Ribs
5 years ago: Small-Batch Tiramisu
6 years ago: Miso Black Sesame Caramel Corn and Hot and Sour Soup
7 years ago: Oven-Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Garlic and Pecan Sticky Buns
8 years ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
9 years ago: Italian Stuffed Cabbage
10 years ago: Lasagna Bolognese
11 years ago: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
12 years ago: Best Cocoa Brownies and Chana Masala
13 years ago: Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes and Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw
14 years ago: Seven-Yolk Pasta Dough and Best Chocolate Pudding
15 years ago: For Beaming, Bewitching Breads

castle breakfast-06

Brown Soda Bread Scones

  • Servings: 4
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

Here is my replacement formula the Irish flour: 1 cup coarse wholemeal flour = 3/4 cup wheat germ + 1/4 cup wheat bran + 1/2 cup regular whole wheat flour. Yes, this appears to add up to more than 1 cup but germ weights much less the flour. This will weigh 145 grams total. See Note at end of recipe for more coarse wholemeal flour information.

  • 1 cup (145 grams) Irish coarse wholemeal flour (see Note up top for swap; see Note at end for description)
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (225 grams) buttermilk, plus another splash if needed
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, cold

Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine wholemeal flour (see Note up top for swap; see Note at end for description), all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Pour buttermilk over dry ingredients, then coarsely grate butter over the buttermilk. Stir to combine into a thick, somewhat gloppy mass, slightly damper than your average scone dough. If it doesn’t come together, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at time, until . (I need at least 2 extra tablespoons when using a thick brand of buttermilk.)

Dollop dough in four big mounds on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until just lightly golden brown at edges and dry to the touch. Eat right away, split in half and spread with butter, jam, or chocolate.

Sleepy Deb Method: Use a 1/2-cup measure (twice) to measure the 1 cup each of wholemeal and all-purpose flour. Use it again (twice) to measure 1 cup buttermilk. Use it again, still wet from the buttermilk, as a scoop to loosely shape the four scones into pucks. The leftover buttermilk in the cup makes it easier to shake out the scone. 😉

Let’s talk about coarse wholemeal (whole wheat) flour: The magic ingredient in most wholegrain or brown soda breads is Irish wholemeal flour. Irish wholemeal flour is coarse and gritty, high in fiber, and has a wonderful nutty flavor. It is not the same as our whole wheat flours here, which are milled fine and smooth, and I do not like the result when I use them as a full swap. Although I think I’ve come up with a solid copycat, it requires extra ingredients, which likely takes this out of the running for an easy breakfast baked good for others. Here’s my advice: If you find you like these scones and want to make them more often, you could mix up a jar of my Irish flour swap and have it at the ready for your weekend mornings. Or, you could splurge on a bag of the imported flour. Prices range significantly (blame a supply chain crisis) but even when it’s overpriced, it is amortized over 56 scones, i.e. my favorite way to justify things. Here are some places you can find the Odlums brand I use online: Amazon, Food Ireland, Mercato. It comes in Coarse and Extra-Coarse; both work. Note: I know that King Arthur Flour also makes an Irish-style flour but it was out of stock when I was working on this recipe so I wasn’t able to test it. If it’s coarsely milled, you’ll be set.

[* Want to add butter, sugar, raisins, or caraway seeds? Technically you should it “tea cake” or The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread might come after you.]

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155 comments on castle breakfast

  1. Lori T.

    I swear there must be a psychic link out in the world, as I was looking for a wholemeal soda bread recipe Wednesday and found one from Paul Hollywood but couldn’t find a decent wholemeal flour in my small town! Thank you.

  2. erin

    Just here to say apricot jam is the best jam. All other jams need not apply. Thank you.
    (Also this looks amazing and I can’t wait to try this!)

    1. deb

      Is it coarse? I won’t know without testing it but I wouldn’t discourage playing around with what you have. You’re looking for 145 grams. I’d start with 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and then add more coarsely milled flours until get the full weight. Instant oats, ground down slightly, but not into flour, would probably work too.

  3. Jamie

    I had the absolute delight to travel in Ireland 20 years ago but I still think about the soda bread available every morning for breakfast at the B&B, and the spread of jams and butter and fresh fruit and (not as sweet!) yogurt and strong tea to go with it. Thank you for bringing back those memories!

    1. deb

      We tend to splurge a little in the winter; I need the color. Plus, knowing we will stretch a kiwi or pomegranate so far makes it more fun to grab at the store.

  4. EL

    This sounds delightful! Would rye flour sub well for Irish whole meal flour? King Arthur accidentally sent me a package intended for someone else and graciously let me keep it when they fixed the error and resent my order. Anyway, now I have lots!!

  5. Allie

    I can’t wait to try this with rye flour…I love the taste and my stomach handles it better than whole wheat. Although store bought is ground pretty fine….I might need to dig out my old grain grinder. I haven’t had a reason to use it in years, but this might be it!

    1. Allie

      Just wanted to check back, the rye flour worked beautifully. They were really delicious! I was guessing on the texture but I ground the rye berries so the flour felt a little gritty between my fingers.

      One thing worth noting was 1 cup of my coarse ground rye flour only weighed 100 g, but I went with it because volume seemed more important here than weight. Also, my 1 cup of KA all-purpose flour weighed 150 g (I didn’t sift it but I do fluff it up a little in the canister before scooping).

  6. Ariane

    I love this idea of making Saturday’s breakfast special! We adopted a similar tradition in march 2020: crêpes for breakfast every Saturday.

    At the time, it was meant as a way to mark the (subtle) difference between the week and the weekend during the first weeks of the C”/@;&(€ when the 4 of us where stuck at home.

    Cheers from Belgium!

      1. Ruth

        For anyone in the NYC area, Odlums is available at the Butcher Block, an Irish grocery in Sunnyside, Queens. Very near the 7 train stop.

  7. Sara

    This seems like a delightful routine. I live alone so think I’m going to try quartering the scone recipe! I have some locally milled whole grain flour that’s definitely coarser than store-bought WW flour. And my fruit selection is a bit sad (might just be an orange and some frozen berries) but I do have homemade apricot jam from last summer.

    And it’s meant to be a warm-ish spring day here tomorrow so if I bundle up, maybe I can even have this on my patio tomorrow. While dreaming of cozy breakfasts in an Irish Castle…

    1. I haven’t tried with this particular recipe, but Deb’s original Soda Bread Scone recipe freezes raw beautifully. Just form the rolls like they’re going in the oven and freeze them instead. Then transfer them to a quart size ziploc bag and keep in the freezer. You can take out one or however many you need at a time. Add a couple of minutes to the baking time and they taste perfectly fresh and just baked.

      1. Eeka

        I agree with Elaine. Whenever I make scones, most go straight into the freezer (raw). My toaster oven later gives me fresh scones w/little effort.

      2. Eeka

        EDIT: I tried freezing some & baking from frozen. Now I do NOT recommend doing so for THIS recipe.
        (I made a separate comment about the details.)

        1. Sara

          Yes, I think what I’m going to do is pre-mix up the dry ingredients + grated butter, and freeze those in single-serving sizes. Then can just pull out an mix with liquid in the morning I want to make one. The biggest pain to just making a single one is grating such a small amount of butter…

          Also kefir has been making a really great sub for buttermilk – and it’s something I’ll use during the week(s) between making soda bread scones.

          Once I have a single-serving routine that works really well for me, I’ll post a fresh comment.

  8. Katie

    I endlessly love and appreciate you and your work. Thank you for being real and honest and also sparking simple joy. You rock!! And these look so tasty!

  9. Christine Forisha

    I love soda bread and can’t wait to try these! Do you have amounts in grams for the copycat ingredients?

  10. Ellen

    Love this recipe, and support for Ukraine – thanks, as always.

    My ‘scone’ recipe is actually soda bread as well, I have whole wheat and white flour versions. Also sometimes add raisins or currants, blueberries, cheese and herbs, etc. And you can mix the flour and butter up the night before, leave the bowl in the refrigerator and add the buttermilk first thing in the am for a slightly easier morning.

  11. Dominique Rychlik

    Odlums EXTRA coarse is the best sub for Irish Flour. Did you try Macroom flour when you were there? Heaven I bring it home
    When I go. But Odlums a fine sub. Looking forward to trying your recipe! My cousin Louise’s brown bread is amazing if you want to try it just email me rychliks@gmail.com

    1. Dominique Rychlik

      Louise brown bread is amazing with smoked salmon and ham, cheese etc great fresh or as toast different than the sconey soda breads also delish but different crumb . My family are like vultures when I make it

  12. Lily

    Buttermilk is weirdly hard to find here in the U.K. – I’m assuming the usual trick of milk plus lemon juice will work? (Thought for the day – does that work with soya milk also??? I will investigate and report back!)

    1. Allie

      I never have buttermilk in my fridge so a use either yogurt thinned with some milk, or plain kefir. They both work great!

  13. Gillian

    I need a buttermilk sub bc I’m planning to make these first thing tomorrow morning and don’t currently have buttermilk…do you think the milk+vinegar version, or sour cream/yogurt mixed with milk would be better?

      1. Gillian Maguire

        I didn’t see this and went with the yogurt stirred with some milk version, and it worked beautifully. Great rise and tender. I have a bag of the KAF wholemeal Irish flour and can report that it is great for these! Thank you thank you for passing along the Castle Breakfast brilliance! 🏰

        1. Elizabeth

          Can you please explain the ratio used for the yogurt in milk version? Can’t buy buttermilk here. I know the milk + vinegar and milk + lemon juice versions. But I like the idea of yogurt in this case.Thank you!

    1. deb

      Yes, but I forgot to remove the asterisk when I removed the note. It would have said that there’s a few breakfast salads coming in my next cookbook (this fall!) that fit right on this table, including one with avocado. But, there were too many side-notes here so I removed it.

  14. Ash

    How well do you think oat bran would swap for wheat bran? It’s all bran, right?! I have oat bran in my pantry already and would love to use it up.

  15. florapie

    I love the idea of Castle Breakfast! The irony is, I’ve been making whole grain scones for years (usually a combination of rolled oats and whole wheat flour) which my family begrudgingly eat, but their absolute favourite is your Irish Soda Bread Scones, probably because they’re made with cake flour and white flour, so they’re nice and fluffy! I feel vindicated to see that you feel the same way as I do about getting whole grains into our families.

    1. Eeka

      Florapie – have you tried substituting in some white whole wheat flour? It’s lovely stuff, and (in my experience) ‘white flour only’ types don’t notice it’s there.

  16. Helena

    Is there any reason why I shouldn’t make the dough the night before and either fridge or freeze it so I can just stick it in the oven in the morning? I have three kids under 5, so things that should theoretically take ten minutes take closer to an hour most of the time. Plus, other people before coffee is equivalent to me before food in the morning, so speed is of the essence.

    1. Emma

      No: the soda (alkaline) reacts really quickly with the buttermilk (acid) and all the aeration will take place in the first 10 or so minutes, so you will be left with stones, not scones. It’s the same with all scones/’quickbreads’ – hence the name. You can mix all the dry ingredients the night before (up to rubbing in the butter) and add the liquid in the morning while the oven heats up; or, I don’t know if Deb has tried her other staple of flash-freezing these to reheat from frozen in the morning?

      Also a UK commenter: haven’t yet tried with this recipe, but if I can’t get buttermilk, I use equal quantities of Greek yoghourt and water – that’s what I have in the house.

      Brilliant idea for the weekends: will be implementing this one.

      Thanks

      1. Emma

        Also: I see you have Bonne Maman Apricot jam. Have you tried their Damson? It’s a sharper fruit and an even better jam.

      2. Emma

        Badly explained: it is the LIQUID that makes the rise immediate, not the interaction of acid and alkaline – so dry ingredients are safe, but adding liquid in any form will start the rising process.

        Sorry: I’ve not had any coffee yet this morning…

        1. Eeka

          You had it right the first time – it’s adding the acid that creates the gas-generating reaction that makes the dough rise.
          Here, the acid comes in as the liquid – buttermilk.
          Coffee is a miracle ;) Enjoy!

          1. Emma

            True, but it is the liquid that precipitates the rising process, though: so, dry ingredients can be stored, including both alkaline (soda bicarb) and acid (cream of tartar) and will only activate once you add the liquid.

            I believe cream of tartar is not so easily available in the US, but might be a better solution for a vegan option than trying to curdle plant milk, which has a very different chemical structure from animal milk. There would be some loss of flavour – but wholewheat has such a much richer flavour than refined flour that this needn’t be a big impact.

            See: I’ve coffee this morning.

            Helena: other people report good results with flash freezing and cooking from frozen for a couple of extra minutes: try that.

            1. Eeka

              Emma – that’s true for when you have *dry* acid & base in your mix (as when you are using baking powder or a baking soda/cream of tarter mix) – you need the water to free up the ions so they can meet & interact.

              But in *this* recipe, you are adding the acid in the form of the liquid: buttermilk.

              If you don’t believe me, try using water or plain milk instead of buttermilk. You’ll find that you need an acid, not just a liquid.

        1. Sheila

          Fellow mom of littles here Helena! If I were you, here’s what I would do the night before: mix up the flour mix, grate the butter onto it, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge. Measure out the buttermilk, cover that and also put it in the fridge. Get out the baking sheet and line it with parchment. So then in the morning, you just need to pour the buttermilk on, stir, and scoop the scones onto the baking sheet. Good luck & God bless!

  17. Anne

    This looks amazing! I think my kiddo would love castle breakfast (if for no other reason that it’s called “castle breakfast”) Question: would the scone recipe work identically as a traditional soda bread loaf? A longer baking time, obviously, but if you have any other tips, would so appreciate!

    1. deb

      Yes, absolutely. My notes say it bakes for 40 to 45, but it sounds long to me. Don’t forget to poke the corners to let the faeries out!

  18. Susan

    Thank you for this recipe and the lovely story behind it. Can you use regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice in place of buttermilk?

  19. Love this! We spent a summer in Ireland, and I made soda bread all the time, just to slather on that delicious Irish butter, but tried making it a few times here, and it wasn’t the same. Can you give the Irish flour substitute ingredients in grams?

  20. Mary Ann Lynch

    I just made these. Had no whole meal flour so I used 1/2 C of oatmeal, which I ran through the food processor and 1 & 1/2 C of white flour. Also, I always keep Saco Pantry dried buttermilk blend in the fridge. It is a perfect substitute for fresh buttermilk, and is always on hand. Otherwise followed the recipe, though I used a non stick cookie sheet and skipped the parchment paper. Smeared these with wild Maine blueberry jam, and marveled at how much these tasted like my mother’s (she grew up in Ireland) Irish Soda Bread. Thank you for the recipe and Saturday morning inspiration. Top of the morning to you!

  21. Addie’s Mom

    I just received a package of the dried buttermilk powder that you mix with water from Bob’s Red Mill that I will use to make these once I get the wheat germ. I love their stuff and here in Phoenix finding buttermilk (and plain 2%) can be a crapshoot. Strange what’s missing from shelves. My order came very very fast regardless of their caution of possible delays. I’ve been on a UK romance book reading binge filled with scones jam and tea. Can’t wait to make these soda bread scones to enjoy with my Julie Caplin books. Thanks Deb for great recipe and wonderful writing you always make me smile.

    1. deb

      Thank you. However, I know myself and it’s highly unlikely if I ever had a giant bucket of freshly-picked apricots that I’d do anything with them but eat them. :)

  22. Jennifer

    Made these this morning – they were quick and wonderful! I didn’t have wheat germ so used a higher proportion of wheat bran and mix of flours, knowing that it would be a bit less coarse. Still delicious! Although now that I’ve read more comments, I’d be inclined to try adding in some oats if I were in a similar situation again, and I’m looking forward to picking up some wheat germ to try the recipe as written. I often prefer baked good just with some butter on top, so the next time I may try adding a bit of sugar into the dough.

    1. Bonnie Tawse

      I wish I would have used oats instead of the corn meal, I have a feeling that would have been a much better substitution!

  23. Bonnie Tawse

    I had to sub Einkorn flour for whole wheat as I didn’t have any when I went to grab it. I also subbed coarse corn meal for wheat bran, as I had none of that either. You probably know where this is going, and I take full responsibility for it, but these didn’t come out. I was actually worried about the corn meal and einkorn making it too dry, but in fact, the opposite was the issue, they were too wet and after 20 minutes, still kind of claggy, not the crumb of a soda bread at all. Like I said, it’s all on me, but someone did ask about using einkorn flour and so I would caution against it.

  24. Barbara

    I adore scones and will definitely make these, or a few variations thereof! Thank you for reminding us about the huge need to care for our fellow men, women & children. I just made a donation to feeding homeless Ukranians. I also pray for well-being of Russian citizens who are caught up in this situation

  25. Leah

    I don’t think you’re allowed to put the first photo on the internet and follow it up with the claim that you’re not a domestic goddess.

  26. Mary

    Thank you so much for all that you do, Deb, and especially for highlighting World Central Kitchen. I donated immediately and so did my husband.

  27. Amanda

    Deb! How can I donate to WCK and have 100% of the donation go to them? Everywhere I look to donate it says that there are fees associated with the credit card transaction and I don’t want processing fees and administrative fees to be taken out. Help?? And thanks for directing me to this organization. I’ve been inspired to help out, but didn’t know how.

    1. deb

      Neither Instagram nor Facebook take processing fees out, they’ve assured me. You can use one of the links I’ve set up, or give directly through the World Central Kitchen website (links in this post).

    2. Jennifer

      Amanda, I actually work for a non-profit and the only way to have 100% of your donation go to the charity is to send a check or do an EFT (electronic funds transfer). All credit cards (cc) charge fees, that is how they make money in addition to interest they charge. I would go directly to the charity’s own webpage and make your donation through their page if you need to use a cc, then it’s the minimum of fees with your donation.
      I will also put in a plug for actually becoming a monthly donor. Even the smallest amount, $10/month is actually better that a one time gift of $120. Charities can use monthly gifts for better planning and budgeting. Just sayin’

  28. LauraB

    A note to New Yorkers: You’ll probably be able to find Odlam’s Wholemeal Flour at The Butcher Block in Sunnyside, Queens. Northside of Queens Blvd with entrance on 41st Street. It’s conveniently across from the 40th Street 7 train stop.

    1. Jenny

      Can confirm they carry it! I just stopped by this morning to buy some so I could bake these scones (which I’m enjoying right now). I got the coarse whole meal flour and it was 7.99

      Sunnyside is a lovely neighborhood, so make a trip of it—after Butcher Block, take a walk around Sunnyside gardens, stop by a Turkish market… enjoy!

  29. Donovan

    These are super. Just wanted you to know before I even finished mine. The whole house agrees. I have some buckwheat flour. I could use it in p,ace of the whole wheat?

  30. Julie

    I took a break from social media this past week, but I’ll tune in today to contribute to World Central Kitchen via one of your fundraisers. Jose Andres is one of the best people on the planet and you’re acting as one of his assistants by setting those up. Thanks to both of you.

  31. Eeka

    I did a little experiment with freezing these (raw), then baking from frozen – as I do for most scones, because there is usually just me eating them.
    Probably due to the wetter nature of these breads, it was not a rousing success. When the surface of the cooked from frozen ‘scones’ was nicely browned, there were still pockets of raw dough in the interior. I made my breads with a 1/4 cup measure as a scoop, rather than the 1/2 cup one Deb uses. I imagine this problem would be worse with the larger ones.
    I solved the raw dough by splitting the breads & popping them back into the oven.

    The frozen ones did not rise *quite* as high as the ones I baked immediately after mixing. But they were definitely not rock-like.

    For these, in the future I will just mix up the amount I can eat before they get icky. Since there is no egg in the recipe, it’s easy to do.

  32. Anne

    I made these yesterday along with your suggested accompaniments and they were delightful! Mine turned out very gummy in the middle. Too much buttermilk? Mixed too long? Not enough baking time? I’d love to troubleshoot this, as this could easily become a Saturday routine in our house as well. It felt fancy yet was very simple and healthy! Thanks for the recipe, Deb!

        1. Allie

          Mine took 25 min. I figured since they are like mini soda breads, I wanted an internal temp of about 190-200 like with bread. At 15 min, mine were only about 150F in the center, it took 25 min to get them up to 190F and they were delicious. Definitely not overcooked.

  33. Is the Irish-style flour used in yeasted breads too? I’ll get the wheat bran and germ to make a big batch, but I don’t know that I’ll be able to use it all on scones and soda bread. I do regularly bake loaves of whole wheat bread, though. Thoughts? Or any other ideas for using wheat germ and bran?

  34. Isabel

    I love this philosophy and these are my husband’s ideal scones (no sugar and plain as possible lol).

    I made some swaps that worked pretty well! I used 1 part each by weight whole wheat flour, rye flour, rolled oats, and crushed up bran twig cereal for the wholemeal flour. A liquid-y yogurt worked well in place of the buttermilk (I ended up adding ~20g extra to get the right consistency).

    1. Elizabeth

      I was thinking of adding oats because of an oatmeal “scone” which was the only type we had found while living in Guatemala, and the flavor was nice. Did you grind the rolled oats or use them whole? Thank you!

      1. Bonnie Tawse

        I used whole, old-fashioned oats in my last batch and I really liked the texture they gave. I subbed it for the wheat bran (I didn’t have any) so I used 1/4 cup. As others have mentioned, 15 minutes hasn’t been enough, even with smaller scones, so consider adjusting cooking time to 18-20 minutes.

  35. Christina

    Made this today, but gluten free. For the Irish flour sub, I used 75g of KAF, 5 g flax, 40 g buckwheat, 25 g teff. I baked them for an extra 10 minutes and let them cool a bit to make sure they set up. I definitely want to try with some coarser grains but the flavor was great and the consistency was surprisingly nice. Loved the whole breakfast, we’ll definitely be doing it again.

    1. Allison

      I made these GF too. Subbed GF flour blend (by weight) for the flour and ground up rolled oats (by weight) for the whole wheat. They also needed to be baked longer and were pretty dense, but tasted really good!

  36. What a delightful post! A bit travelogue, a bit family life, a bit foodie.

    Also, I came across a totally charming little book called The Irish Baking Book and this flour mix will help with many of her recipes too.

  37. Lara

    maybe I am too sleepy, but in the “sleepy Deb method” I can’t figure out how to use the butter…? and one more question: you make four scones for four people? How is that enough? I can’t imagine feeding my hungry lions only one scone per person on a Saturday morning :D

    1. Megan

      They are quite large and somewhat dense, but tasty! As long as you are serving other food, you should be fine with one scone per person.

  38. Linda

    I love everything about this. After reading about Irish flour, I realized I have a grain mill and can make my own by putting it on the coarsest setting and milling whole wheat berries. I also ground grain for the white flour. These were outstanding! I wish everyone could experience the fresh taste of really great whole wheat.
    I used yoghurt mixed with some milk to approximate buttermilk. Eager to try with good buttermilk. Love the idea of grating in the cold butter. Genius tip on many levels!

    1. JP

      Linda: We grind our own wheat for all of our wheat flour but what setting (just how coarse should the flour be)? Did you use only your wheat flour (no wheat germ, no wheat bran?). Thanks!

  39. Brittany W

    This sounds easy enough to be achievable! FYI, your Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcake from 13 years ago link seems broken.

  40. Kel

    I swear, I am NOT trying to be a jerk. My Monday morning brain, however, is a smidgen confused.

    In the blog part it says “just flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk,” but your recipe grates butter into the scones. Then there’s a note that says that if you add butter, you should call it a tea cake. So there IS butter in this, but they’re not tea cakes?

  41. Bonnie Tawse

    I just made these (again) substituting Einkorn flour (from a local mill) for the whole wheat and old fashioned oats for the wheat germ and adding 1/2 cup of dried currants. I had issues with my first batch being too wet in the middle, even after 20 minutes bake time (at 375 and not adding any extra buttermilk) so this time around I used the 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop them onto the parchment and so I got 8 total scones and 18 minutes in my oven was just right for them to be browned along the edges and done in the center. I really like that they’re using whole grains and a minimal amount of butter (1 Tablespoon in the world of scone recipes is very low) and so you can slather as much as you want once they’re done, but my husband, who is avoids too much butter due to heart surgery, can enjoy one sans guilt.

  42. Jennifer Robson

    I made these this morning and they were a wonderful start to the week! (I live in Toronto and found Odlam’s flour at “A Bit of Home” on Dundas at Dixie in Mississauga. They also offer mail order.)

  43. Eva

    I love your substitute for the Irish flour! These were really tasty and came together quickly. Mine needed an extra 5-7 minutes in the oven. The center’s were still gummy at 15 minutes. Next time, I’ll try flattening them out a bit before baking.

  44. I am super excited about this! I love the idea of a “Castle Breakfast” – but even more so I am looking forward to trying soda bread as scones! What a superb idea! Making these next weekend! Thanks :). Also, I love your website, been following you for a a couple of years and just love what you do.

  45. Sophia

    This is a beautiful idea, thank you for sharing Deb! It made my heart happy to read your post and I can see this bringing a sense of peace on days off. I’m inspired to try this out at home!

  46. Kate

    These are delicious. I made them mostly as written, though for the Irish wholemeal flour I subbed 100g of freshly ground coarse whole Red Fife wheat flour. The flavor and texture reminds me of the scone in the “afternoon tea” deal (personal-sized pot of tea, free refills of hot water, scone, butter, small pot of jam) that I often enjoyed at a Dublin bookshop while a student at Trinity College two decades ago. Thank you, Deb, both for the delightful nudge down memory lane, and for a very good recipe enjoyed by my whole family–my kids loved these.

  47. Susan Held

    I am very lazy and have a toddler. If I mix up a big batch of my own flour substitute I’m wondering if I could just go further and put the salt, baking soda, and AP flour in there as well (in the right proportions) and keep a canister of “Irish scone mix” in the cabinet. 280ish grams of scone mix + butter + buttermilk. Anyone know a reason that wouldn’t work as long as it the dry mix was nice and thoroughly mixed?

    1. Ruth

      It absolutely should.

      I used to have the concession for Irish Soda Bread at a large Irish music festival held annually in NYC. I would make 200-250 loaves. The event was always on a Saturday, and the earliest I could start baking was Thursday night. So I measured and mixed all the dry ingredients and put them in baggies ahead of time. And then just dumped each bag into a bowl, added the buttermilk and mixed the dough when I was ready to bake.

  48. Taryn

    In the description above the recipe you say “I swap half the white flour with coarse wholemeal (whole wheat) flour,” indicating that the original recipe uses all white flour. If I wanted to use entirely all-purpose flour in this recipe so that I don’t have to track down the irish style wholemeal (or your substitutes) before Saturday morning (I need a Castle Breakfast in my life asap), would I need to adjust the amount of buttermilk? Thanks!

    1. deb

      I swap half the flour from the original recipe, which was all white flour. So yes, you can use it in full. You’ll probably need only 1 cup buttermilk, not any extra.

  49. Jennifer

    I own a grain mill and grind my own wheat berries. I have hard red and hard white berries (mild diff in level of proteins, most diff is in taste – red is nuttier than white). So could I grind my own and just do a course grind? I will probably buy a bag of the irish so I can look at it and see how course my own grinding should be.

  50. Sarah

    Thank you. I read this on Friday, and did my take on it the very next morning, Saturday. I’m not in a hurry to make the soda bread – but the pattern/vibe/fruit platter thing? I’m in, that’s our Saturday mornings sorted for the next season of life. We’re more team waffle/crepe/Dutch pancake, but Blessings on your head, Deb, for sharing this beautiful ritual :)

  51. Christine

    Thank you! Irish brown bread is such a strong sense memory for me… from the Irish bakers in my family & some delightful hotel brekkies like you described … and these scones hit the mark! I made them just as written, with the bran/wheat germ sub, and they’re perfect. I used to be able to get the Odlums brown bread mix (!) in my local grocery, but haven’t seen it in a while. Looking forward to using this recipe in loaf form.
    I remember your Irish itinerary post well… we traveled in Ireland that summer, too. :)

  52. Marcia

    Although folks in my family no longer eat breakfast at the same time, I try to make sure that everyone has some fruit… a clementine , a handful of strawberries, or possibly the sublime eccentricity of a sumo. Even if they are just having toast, a clementine can make it breakfast.

  53. Allison

    Has anyone tried to veganize this? I have a dairy allergy in the house. I was thinking soy milk + ACV for vegan buttermilk plus earth balance butter, all in the same proportions as the original recipe. Any other suggested changes?

    1. Allison

      Commenting on myself here…the vegan version worked great! I used 1T of apple cider vinegar to curdle the soy milk (a richer plant milk) and earth balance butter (from the stick not spread). I got 6 mounds using a large scoop that I flattened a bit and then baked for 15 minutes. They were a little salty for my taste, though I understand they are supposed to be taken with jam, so next time I will add a bit of sugar.

  54. Jen

    I made these this morning. Really nice texture and delicious with butter and jam (and Nutella for kids). I subbed flaxseed meal for the wheat germ, and relied on the weight measures. Mine were still a little doughy in the center so would bake an extra minute or two next time.

  55. Megan

    I made these today and they turned out perfectly. I realized as I was measuring ingredients (using the Sleepy Deb Method) that I had grabbed oat bran at the store instead of wheat bran, but they still turned out great. I also baked for 20 minutes as suggested in the comments and they were just right. Will definitely make these regularly.

  56. Ellen

    These are so yummy and easy to put together. I made the recipe as is and found i needed to bake them longer than the suggested 15 min. Next time I will separate the dough into 6-8 clumps and have smaller scones. I’m also thinking I’ll try making the recipe with a teaspoon of molasses in the dough just to sweeten it up a tiny bit. Super yummy!!

  57. Susan in Las Vegas

    YOu mentioned a Irish Soda Bread formula you got from a class. I see the formula for converting to irish flour – is that the formula you were talking about? Or is there a proportion formula for Irish Soda Bread?

  58. Elizabeth

    Happy I saw this email because I was hoping to make something like either plain scones or Irish Soda Bread this week. I can buy whole wheat flour, but not wheat bran or wheat germ locally. Can I still make this with some whole wheat flour and AP? Or all AP? What would you suggest? Thank you!

  59. Veronika Kisfalvi

    I tried to make these this morning, with a mix of 1 1/2 cups Annie’s (Canadian brand) stone ground whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour. Mostly OK, but somewhat undercooked after 20 minutes … I was left wondering if they were safe to eat (after the fact). Next time will try smaller scones with the longer cooking time.

  60. Lauren

    I follow your recipes a lot, but rarely post. These scones are the apple of my eye and the warmer of my heart. They don’t need any toppings at all. I was astonished that they take only one tablespoon of butter yet lack nothing in the way of richness of flavor. The whole-grain blend is the best, as are the scones’ craggy tops and toasty bottoms. This is the BEST way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for this Jewish girl!

  61. Sara K

    I had some of the King Arthur Irish whole meal flour in the pantry which I bought for making barmbrack in October, and I think it worked beautifully in this recipe. I had to bake for an extra 5-10 min (I took the smaller ones out after 20 min and the larger ones out at 25), so I think next time I will try them at 400 degrees and see how that goes. My dough/batter looked slightly wetter than the photos, which may be the result of the different flour and could have also affected baking time? I used a half cup scoop for each scone.
    In any case, these were delicious with butter & jam. Great quick scone recipe! Will make again soon.

  62. Sonia

    I’ve made these two days in a row for lunch. First time I quartered the recipe to make one mini-loaf/bun.

    The second time I halved the recipe and divided the dough into three mini-loafs/buns and I liked the size of these a bit better than the size of the quarter recipe single bun.

    In line with other reviewers, my buns have taken longer to bake (~20 mins in the toaster oven at 375 F convection).

  63. Michelle Lancet

    I’ve now made these an embarrassing number of times and this recipe is so versatile. I’ve never had the whole meal flour so I use what I have and just keep the weights of the flour the same. The most recent times, I’ve ground up old fashioned oats for a portion of the whole wheat flour and even used a handful of granola dregs and about a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar that was leftovers from something else- it was so good!

    I personally love that these aren’t sweet, but that wee bit of cinnamon sugar was a really nice variation.

    Basically, don’t let the wholemeal flour scare you off.

  64. Jessica

    Deb – I think this might be my first ever comment, although I have been reading SK since before I got married (and I got married in 2007, so, it’s been a while…). I just wanted to add my tuppence worth because, being irish, soda bread is close to my heart. However, living in Asia, it can be tricky to find buttermilk. So if anyone else has this problem, here’s a solution (and apologies if this has been covered a dozen times in the comments already – I haven’t gone through them) – just sub plain yoghurt, watered down to the consistency of thick pouring cream. I use greek, and find that I need half yoghurt, half water (so, made up to whatever quantity of buttermilk you’d otherwise need). mix well to smooth out the yoghurt, then just tip into the flour mixture and mix with your hands. I find that the stickier it is, the better. I literally tip it in a sticky mess out onto the floured baking tray, pat it into a shape, cut a cross in it (I make loaves, not buns – but same ingredients) and 35 mins later I am dancing a happy irish jig. (Ps – I KNOW it’s not proper soda bread to use yogurt, but I promise it works just as well. In fact if anything, it’s nicer – denser and velvety and fabulous. Pps – if you want to fruity it up, add to the dry ingredients: the zest of an orange, a tablespoon of sugar, and a couple of handfuls of whatever dried fruit you have in your cupboards – sliced, toasted and slathered with butter as a breakfast treat… mmmmm) . Ok, that’s it for the next 15 years : )

    1. Elizabeth

      I did exactly as you said, yogurt. It just sounded like it would work. They are fantastic, even hubby (aka – Mr. Picky “loved” them)! Thank you for reminding me to go buy more yogurt. This is a recipe that will be repeated in various ways often.

    2. Elizabeth

      Thanks for the great tips! A few ideas to try as variations for the future. By the way, I did yogurt, too. It just sounded like in this case it would be a great buttermilk substitute, and it was! Making them again tomorrow.

  65. Maren

    We have made this a Saturday morning tradition! We use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to make 6 scones, and it takes a full 30 minutes for us.

  66. Diana

    We have an electric Biletti Moka pot that’s on a timer. It has an alarm and you set it up the night before and wake to fresh coffee. It’s magically. Especially with a 6am rising toddler. Castle breakfast sounds like just the thing!

  67. L

    I love the idea of “castle breakfast” — thanks for sharing! I need to take a dish to an Easter brunch but would like it to be something that is also kosher for Passover. Must be vegetarian. Dairy is fine. Egg dishes and fruit salad are already taken care of. Any suggestions? Maybe for something that could take the place of traditional brunch baked goods? I would love to bake something for those of us (namely me) who will be looking longingly at the buttermilk biscuits and coffee cake. . . Thanks!

  68. Monica

    King Arthur’s “Irish-style” flour is back in stock. It seems to match your description. It arrived at my house a few days ago and I’ve made these twice, and they are *so* good.

    Thank you for the description of the wetness of the dough. I live in the desert and it’s normal for me to make adjustments to get recipes to work. The first time I made these, humidity was 4% and I had to add about 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk to match what you’d described. Today, the humidity’s around 45% and I used just a bit more than one cup. The description in the recipe makes all the difference. And they do take about 30 minutes to bake through, but I’m at 4,000 feet elevation and that’s probably a factor.

    1. Bev

      Sounds like you live in Idaho! I do, at about 5000’—it is so dry here, so thank you for this detailed description.

  69. Elisa

    My new favorite breakfast. I used the KA Irish flour, and swapped half the AP for whole wheat pastry flour, it was perfect. I may add a few tablespoons of maple syrup and some plumped up golden raisins next time, at the risk of the soda bread police coming after me.

  70. MelissaBKB

    Do these scale up well, say a double or triple batch? Any hazards to watch out for when doing so, like adjusting the baking powder? I’m so excited to add these to our next brunch and it will be 10+ people

  71. Amy

    My mom celebrated her Castle Breakfast everyday. Sis and I knew that she loved dining *formally*, talking for many years about every silver toast and jam carrier that had been on her table when staying at British B&Bs. On a trip to London, Sis found the perfect Victorian version and brought it back for Mom, who used it everyday for the next 20 years. Sis still uses it. I know my mom would have loved your blog, and more specifically, your comfort with easy elegance.

    She also would have raved about your Brown Bread Scones, especially when slathered with Irish butter and my midwest contribution, Black Raspberry jam.

  72. I made these today and they were disappointingly gummy. The only change I made was using whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular ww, since that’s all I had. Once split and toasted, they were delicious, however. So I will have to make again and cook longer. I also think next time I’ll make them into 6.

    1. deb

      Did you use the swap with mixed grains or just all whole wheat pastry flour for the Irish flour? The flour I’m recommending is quite different from whole wheat flour, and even more so from pastry flour. It has a coarse grind and it keeps the crumb from being too tight. I have made it with fine-ground whole wheat flour, and it’s okay, but definitely less interesting.