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.
- 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
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.)
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.
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.
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!