Walnut Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and hello Sourdough Surprises! I am desperate to return to New Orleans to spend this evening with old friends at Finn MaCool’s pub. Since I can’t be with my favorite Irish people, at least I can cook up the aroma of an Irish kitchen—this bread is great with a little maple glaze for breakfast. Cut in thin cake-like slices, it crumbles a bit like a scone.


Walnut Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

Makes 1 loaf

½ cup sourdough starter

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 3/4 cups butter milk (or whole milk)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons walnut oil

Extra all-purpose flour (for shaping)

1 tablespoon melted butter (for brushing)

Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the oats with half the starter and buttermilk. Set aside for 2-4 hours.

In a bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup oats, all-purpose flour, cake flour, whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Work in the walnut oil with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork just until the dough comes together.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured board. Knead lightly until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, not smooth or the dough will be tough. Add a little flour on your hands if the dough is still wet.


Pat the dough into a 6-inch round that is 2 inches high. Transfer the bread to parchment on a peel or a baking sheet. Set the baking sheet in the oven and bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the surface with melted butter. Cool to room temperature.


This really is the best soda bread recipe I know! The key, I believe, is thanks to a slight oversight I made the first time I tried while supervising the soaking oats. The instructions say to soak them in the milk for one hour—I got distracted and it was more like four hours of soaking. Moist oats, nay, soggy oats make all the difference. The result tastes like a giant oatmeal cookie. Too bad I don’t have Bruce to report on the chef—Watching this clip now after studying for hours, I identify somewhat with the character, Vol—“I work in back. I see no smiles.” Man from health department has no business in my kitchen, there are no boogers, rat pellets or giant chocolate sprinkles in my goodies. Just a wanna-be Irish lassie.


20 thoughts on “Walnut Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread

    1. The dough was a little sticky so I covered the boule in wheat flour before I put it in the oven. The texture is like an oatmeal scone. A ginormous oatmeal scone.

  1. I’ve read your recipe and am a bit confused. you say to combine the starter, 2 cups of the oats and the milk and set aside for 2-4 hours. I understand this. Then you say to combine the remaining oats, dry ingredients and sourdough starter. The next instruction is to add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Why is this confusing me? What have I missed? Was there a correction posted that I am not reading?

    1. Yes, Opal– the way I had it was totally confusing. I revised it today to make it clearer. I add the starter to the oatmeal and buttermilk (but sometimes I just use regular milk if I don’t have any buttermilk), let it sit for several hours to preferment, and then I later add all the flours, etc and mix all together. I had written adding starter twice because sometimes I do–just a mood thing–sometimes I add a little more starter with the addition of the flours because, depending on the weather, how recently I’ve used my starter, how sour I want the final product to be–I add a little more. If you are a sourdough user regularly, you know that it is hard to approximate sourdough equivalency. My 1/2 cup might be more like 1 cup for your starter… sorry it was confusing, hopefully I’ve addressed your question!

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