Oatmeal and Walnut Soda Bread
2 1/2 cups rolled oats, divided (see note Step 1)
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar [I only use 1 tablespoon because I prefer a saltier bread, especially with the nuts]
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt [I use 2 teaspoons salt]
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, toasted in a pan over medium heat, stirring, until just fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes [I love cashews, and they taste great, so I am sure one can use any favourite nut]
Soak 2 cups rolled oats in buttermilk for 1 hour.
[I toast the 2½ cups rolled oats till lightly browned and then grind 2 cups to a coarse meal – the ½ cup for step 3 I leave unground – T.]
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400°F.
Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, remaining ½ cup rolled oats, and salt in large bowl.
Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add buttermilk-soaked oats and toasted walnuts and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together.
[The flour here in South Africa seems to be more absorbent than in America, so I always need about 1/4 cup liquid extra – I just use water not to make the bread softer/richer – T.]
Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.)
Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in cast-iron pot, if using.
Place the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut a [DEEP] cross shape into the top.
Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 190°F, 45 to 55 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush with melted butter [I don’t do this – I prefer the crisper crust – T.]; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.
Pairs Well With
Here is another one of the soda bread recipes from Cook’s Illustrated; I like to let it rest for two days and then slice and toast it; the contrast of crisp and soft is great. Brilliant with butter and all types of cheese (but best with Gorgonzola or mascarpone and berry jam)!