Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Pinhead Oat Meal and Raisin Soda Bread

Servings: 6-8
If you like a bread with a somewhat "crunchy" texture then this is for you. The Pinhead or Steel Cut Oat Meal works so nice in this traditional Irish Soda Bread, and the plumped raisins give the bread a nice subtle sweetness. The crumb is soft and very moist. My husband and I enjoyed it spread with strawberry curd and clotted cream and we were in "soda bread heaven". A definite keeper for anytime of the year, not just St. Patrick's Day.

1 cup pinhead or steel cut oat meal* (see notes below) or regular quick cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour OR white whole wheat flour
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick/2oz./56g) cold butter, cut into small pieces (keep chilled until ready to use)
1/2 cup dark or golden raisins, plumped *(see notes below)

For Topping:
Extra oatmeal or flour, for dusting top
Half & Half or milk, for brushing top
Brown sugar or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk and the oat meal and let mixture soak for 30 minutes (this will help the oatmeal soften up).

In a large bowl, cut chilled butter into dry ingredients using a pastry blender or 2 knives until the butter looks like fine crumbs. Stir in buttermilk/oatmeal mixture. Fold in raisins. Transfer to a lighlty floured work surface and gently knead a few times to make a stiff dough. Shape into a 8 or 9-inch round and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife make two slashes (in the shape of a cross) over the top of bread (about 1/3 inch deep), then brush with half and half or milk and dust with more oatmeal or flour and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Slice into wedges and serve at room temperature with butter or jam and double or clotted cream. This bread is best eaten the same day it is made, but is also good toasted the next day.

Makes 1 loaf, 6-8 servings.

Pinhead oat meal or steel cut oat meal are used in Ireland and Scotland for making traditional porridge or used in cooking and baking. They may be purchased at specialty or gourmet food stores or can also be purchased online. I found both of these oat meals at my local supermarket, but they are also sold on Amazon.com

If using pinhead oat meal or steel cut oat meal (regular quick cooking rolled oats may be substituted for the pinhead or steel cut oat meal, but not instant oatmeal), it's a good idea to soak the oat meal in the buttermilk (to soften it up) for 30 minutes before making the soda bread.

To Plump Raisins:
Place raisins in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let soak for 10 minutes. Drain, and dry with paper towels.

Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2006

Date: March 17, 2006