Brown Soda Bread with Steel Cut Oats

By Ann Fulton

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Hearty, wholesome bread has never been so easy, thanks to this yeast-free, no-knead recipe. The finished loaf slices beautifully and tastes great! 



When I experiment with recipes, I am never 100% sure how they will turn out.  Sometimes, a new recipe takes repeated tries, especially in the baking department.

I aim to limit white flour and sugar in breads and muffins, but it isn’t altogether easy to come up with homemade, whole grain bread that tastes great and has just the right texture.  Add quick and easy to the list of requests, and you have a tall order!

So, I was delighted when this whole grain version of the traditional Irish soda bread yielded a delightful texture–somewhere in the perfect mid-range of light and dense with a nice crumb and a little chew to it.  How is that for a description?  This isn’t sandwich bread, but rather a tasty loaf to serve alongside soup or salad or with a little jam for breakfast.  I have even made French toast with it.

Below, I have added some of my tricks for making great baked goods.  My favorite tip is using a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients.  Once you start using one of these gadgets, you will never go back.  You can simply and accurately pour or scoop ingredients right into the mixing bowl, saving precious time and messy cleanup.  Most scales come with a handy, well-organized flip chart with weights of common ingredients and increments starting at one tablespoon.  Plus, food packages usually list the weight of the product.

Note:  If you enjoy this recipe, you may want to try the sunflower raisin variation, which is perfect on its own or as French toast.  If you would like to venture further into an easy yeast bread that people might think came from an artisanal bread shop, consider this recipe for Crusty Pecan Raisin Cider Bread.

Brown Soda Bread with Steel Cut Oats
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted, whole wheat flour (11 1/4 ounces)–see note
  • 1/2 cup sifted, all-purpose flour (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal (could substitute pecan meal or wheat germ if you don’t have flax)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk, well shaken
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 1 1/2-quart round baking dish or 9×5-inch loaf pan very well. (I like to also line with parchment paper. The pan needs to be well oiled for easy removal the bread.)
  2. As I mentioned, when baking, I really like to weigh ingredients, especially flour. It really makes the process go so much faster–just pour into mixing bowl and there are fewer dishes to wash! Importantly, it also eliminates the tendency to get too much flour in the measuring cup, leading to a heavier baked good. So, weigh or carefully measure the flours into a large mixing bowl. Add oats, sugar, flax meal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly, then make a little well in the middle to pour your wet ingredients. Combine buttermilk and egg. Pour into well in dry ingredients and blend, folding carefully until mixture is just combined. Avoid over-mixing: this will improve the texture of the finished product.
  3. Spoon mixture into prepared pan, then sprinkle with reserved steel cut oats. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. The last time I made this, I used a round casserole and it took exactly 55 minutes in my oven. All ovens vary a little, so I always check on baked goods a few minutes early so I don’t overcook and dry them out. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack.
  4. Bread tastes great warm or cooled, with or without butter. I also adore it leftover, toasted and topped with strawberry jam!
  • When I weigh the flour in this recipe, I don’t bother sifting anymore. The simple weight chart provides conversions for sifted and non-sifted flour, and since you can just pour the flour, it stays light and fluffy!
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The Fountain Avenue Kitchen
Hearty, wholesome bread has never been so easy, thanks to this yeast-free, no-knead recipe. The finished loaf slices beautifully and tastes great! 

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    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Eva, I haven’t done that with this recipe, but based on other baking, I’m 99% sure the result would be fine. In fact, you could likely use all all-purpose flour or use 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour and increase the flax meal to 1/2 cup. Again, I haven’t done this but wouldn’t hesitate to try it myself.

  1. Debbie

    I’ve been making this bread for several years not and it’s definitely a favorite of mine! Healthy and delicious at the same time, what’s not to like? I was wondering if this could be made without the egg, perhaps substituting a flax egg, as my grandson is allergic.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Debbie, I’m delighted this has been a longtime favorite! I have not made the bread without an egg, but I do think it would be worth trying. A flax egg may work, although in other testing I’ve had excellent results with a product called the neat egg. Here’s a link for a visual, although it’s widely distributed: Interestingly, chia seeds and garbanzo beans are the only ingredients.

      1. Debbie

        Thanks for the tip, Ann! I’m going to try the neat egg. I have heard of it but have never used it. I’ll try to remember to post a comment about how it works out.

  2. Johannah

    You mention that this isn’t “sandwich bread.” Do you have any recipes for a sandwich bread that does not contain yeast?

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Johannah, I have several other breads without yeast, but most are not traditional sandwich bread. I’ve been experimenting with rolls that are actually more like thins, and I really like them for sandwiches and burgers. They are yeast- and gluten-free, but I haven’t perfected the recipe quite yet.

  3. Gina McNally

    I made this and it was delicious! I have been looking for a bread that would be outrageously good with fig butter specifically, and also with regular butter. This recipe also uses two other ingredients I know are great but don’t use that much in many recipes: steel cut oats and buttermilk. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this delicious dense, perfectly not too sweetened bread. Add it to a tub of Kerrygold, some jam and a packet of tea, and I have the perfect Christmas care package for a far-away friend. I have never posted a review on a blog before, so not sure who gets this and who will see it. Just had to tell someone! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Ann Post author

      Gina, You are so sweet to comment and I’m thrilled you’re so pleased with the recipe! Your care package idea sounds delightful, and I’m sure your friend will savor it. Thank you for taking a moment to post your first review!

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  6. Paula

    I’d love to try daughter is highly gluten intolerant. Any chance that you could use a gluten-free flour blend for this?

    1. Ann

      Hi Paula,
      This is one of the few recipes for which I have not yet tried my gluten-free flour blend. The blend I use works extremely well in muffins, quick breads, cakes, etc. I don’t think it would be bad in this recipe, although I might be tempted to include an extra egg–or even just an extra white–for added protein in hopes of achieving a more bread-like rise and texture. If you try, please let me know how you make out!

      Also, this is an excellent gluten-free bread recipe that your daughter–and everyone else!–may like:

      Lastly, if you are looking for a gluten-free substitute for all-purpose flour, this is what I like to use. I make it in bulk so I always have it as an option:

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