Sunflower Raisin Brown Bread with Steel Cut Oats

By Ann Fulton

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When I perfected my Brown Soda Bread with Steel Cut Oats, I was so happy!  A whole grain bread that requires no yeast, no kneading, no rise time and mixes up in one bowl!  Most importantly, it tastes great.  My husband claims I never make the same thing twice, which is not entirely true.  However, certain recipes have a built-in ability to evolve into something different yet equally delicious.  And options are a good thing; not everyone likes their food the exact same way, right?  Since I love a good raisin bread and a little added texture, I veered down the following path.

Next thing I knew, I had another favorite!  The framework of this recipe is almost identical to its predecessor but includes raisins, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon.  These additions transform the loaf into a slightly sweeter option with all the wholesome goodness of the original. Delicious plain or with a light spread of butter or honey, leftovers are great toasted and will keep for at least a week wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.  This bread makes a delightful French toast, too.  And for a future flavor…how about blueberry almond vanilla??

Note:  One of my favorite shortcuts is using a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients, and I have added a few tips in the recipe below.  Once you start using one of these gadgets, you will never go back.  You can simply pour or scoop ingredients right into the mixing bowl (the scale calibrates to eliminate the weight of the bowl you are using), saving precious time and messy clean-up.  The precise measurements are especially helpful in baking, too. I use it when measuring ingredients for salad dressings, baked goods…almost anything.  A scale will typically come with a handy, well-organized flip chart with weights for most common ingredients and increments starting at one tablespoon.  Plus, most packages list the weight of the product.

Sunflower Raisin Brown 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 1/2 tablespoon for sprinkling on top
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, plus 1/2 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 cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk, well shaken
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon coarse sugar
  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 also like to line with parchment paper. The pan needs to be well oiled for easy removal the bread.)
  2. As I mentioned above, 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, raisins, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, flax meal, cinnamon, 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, sunflower seeds, and coarse sugar, if using.
  4. 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.
  5. Bread tastes great warm or cooled, with or without a light spread of butter or honey. Leftovers make delicious French toast, too.
  • 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

A 1 1/2-quart round casserole or a 9×5 loaf pan work equally well for baking this bread.


Save a little for easy French toast!

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  2. lisa

    This sounds like a lovely bread! I have all the ingredients but have a question about the sunflower seeds. Are they salted or unsalted? Thanks very much!

    1. Ann

      I use unsalted sunflower seeds, Lisa. You could probably get away with salted if that is what you have…it might even add a salty-sweet flavor that tastes good! Either way, I hope you enjoy. Feel free to let me know what you think!

  3. Mary Lou Keller

    Didn’t make last night, but off work today and just put in the oven.. Will let you know how it turns out!

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  7. Mary Lou Keller

    Hi Ann! I am wondering if I can use Sucanat instead of brown sugar in this? Would you have any idea?

    1. Ann

      Hi Mary Lou! I have never used Sucanat but I am guessing–mostly because there is a rather small amount of brown sugar called for in the recipe–that it would be fine. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out!

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  9. Beverley

    Ann this is so delicious looking and I have never baked bread so this will ease me into it nicely. Great recipe as usual and love the fact that you have weight measurements, Here in England we weigh all our dry ingredients, thank you xoxo

    1. Ann

      Thank you, Beverley. I think you will like the ease of this recipe as much as the texture and taste. As for weighing ingredients, it really does make baking so much quicker and more accurate. I have had the same kitchen scale for years and I use it daily!