Serves a Crowd

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

April  9, 2010
6 Ratings
  • Serves One Good-Sized Loaf
Author Notes

This bread (like each of the other loaf breads I regularly make) represents the end point of an evolution that began when I started making sandwiches every day for my first son, when he entered kindergarten nearly 14 years ago. This bread is what every decent sandwich bread should be . . . . it slices perfectly, it has a fragrant, tender crust, and it’s just a bit chewy. And it tastes good, just as it is, with nothing on it. (Just ask the other food52 members who came to our first potluck last month.) Like most sandwich breads, it makes excellent toast. It’s great for putting on the table with dinner, too, especially when feeding ravenous teenagers. Enjoy!! —AntoniaJames

Test Kitchen Notes

This makes a sweet, yeasty, extraordinarily fragrant loaf of bread. The dough would make a perfect Pullman (sandwich) loaf, and yet is more flavorful than any we've tasted. We shaped ours into a round and it produced a plump, old-fashioned country boule. The crumb is dense but delicate, the perfect bed for shavings of salted butter. Note: We only used about 1/4 cup of flour when kneading the dough. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1 ½ teaspoons of “rapid-rise” or instant yeast
  • 7/8 cup buttermilk (lowfat is fine)
  • ½ cup rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 3 ¼ cup bread flour (You may need just a bit more for kneading.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Olive oil for brushing the dough before baking
  1. Proof the yeast by putting it in a small measuring cup with 3 tablespoons of water that is warm (no hotter than 115 degrees Fahrenheit), with a pinch of sugar. Set it aside for at least ten minutes.
  2. (Please see the note below about kneading. You don't have to mix and knead this dough by hand, if you don't care to do so.) Mix together the buttermilk, oats, melted butter, salt, honey, 1 cup of flour and the baking soda. Beat well until combined.
  3. Beat in another half cup of flour, then add the yeast and water mixture along with another half cup of flour, and beat some more, until combined. The dough should start to feel a bit stretchy.
  4. Stir in another half cup of flour as best you can and then dump the contents of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface.
  5. Set the remaining ¾ cup of flour close to your work area. Knead, adding flour a bit at a time as necessary, using a bench scraper to lift from your work surface any dough that is sticking.
  6. Knead for about ten or twelve minutes, adding only as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking hard to your hands. You don’t need to add the entire amount stated in the ingredients list. Remember, this dough has oatmeal in it, which will continue to soak up the liquids in the bread during the rise. (I put a small pile of flour – no more than a few tablespoons – off to the side, and use my bench scraper to pull over a teaspoon or two at a time, as needed.)
  7. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you prepare the bowl and your rising area, if necessary. (See note below about the latter.)
  8. Wash in hot water the same bowl that you used for mixing the dough. Dry it and drizzle in the bottom a teaspoon or two of good, fruity olive oil. You can also use butter to coat the bowl, if you prefer.
  9. If proofing in your microwave or in your oven, prepare as suggested in Step 17.
  10. Gently form the dough into a ball, put into the bowl topside down, and then flip it over to coat with the oil.
  11. Cover the bowl with a piece of parchment and a tea towel. Allow to rise until doubled, for about an hour to an hour and a half.
  12. Punch down gently, knead a few times, and set aside on the parchment you used to cover the bowl.
  13. Allow to rise a second time about 45 minutes or until nearly doubled in size. (If you want to use this bread for sandwiches, you may find it beneficial not to let it rise quite as much. A loaf that’s a bit more dense is easier to slice, and holds up better when constructing sandwiches.) See notes below about shaping, and about using a clay pot for loaf bread.
  14. Brush with olive oil, slash the dough a few times with a sharp knife, and bake at 350 Fahrenheit (for regular ovens) for about 55 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when the bottom is gently tapped.
  15. Allow to cool on a rack for about an hour before slicing.
  16. Enjoy!!
  17. A Note about Rising: If your house is drafty and/or cold (like mine, most of the year) and you don’t have all day or overnight to allow your dough to rise, put a small cup of water in your microwave, and turn it on high for two minutes. It should feel ever so slightly warm. (You don’t want it too hot, because a quick rise can make the bread coarse.) Remove the cup and put your covered bowl of dough, or your shaped loaf on the parchment in the case of the second rise, in there and shut the door. Instruct all members of your household, in no uncertain terms, that if they need to use the microwave, they may do so only if they remove the dough, gently, and replace it, with the door shut, when done. Or, you can warm up your regular oven to no more than 100 degrees (turning it off immediately so it doesn’t get any hotter), leave the door open for a minute or so, then put your dough in there.
  18. A Note about Clay Pots: This recipe works well either as a free-standing oval on a pizza stone, or in a loaf pan. If using a standard metal pan, lightly oil it before putting the dough into it for the second rise. If you are using a clay pot, please remember that (i) it benefits from soaking in water before using; and (b) you can’t put it, while cold, into a hot oven. So fill up the clay pot about ¾ with water and put it into the oven; about twenty minutes before the time you expect to put the bread in the oven, turn it on (325 degrees Fahrenheit for a convection oven, or 350 for a regular oven). When the dough has completed its second rise, remove the hot pan from the oven, discard the hot water – I use it for cleaning the oily bowl– and then place the dough in the clay pot, using the parchment on which the dough rose. You can oil clay pots, but they don’t absorb as much water during the soak. The absorbed water creates steam in the oven, which improves the crust.
  19. A Note about Browning: Check the loaf after about 25 minutes. Convection ovens tend to make the crust a bit dark – especially those with milk and butter in them -- so if the crust looks done after 25 or 30 minutes, cover it very lightly with a piece of foil.
  20. A Note about Kneading: This dough does not necessarily have to be kneaded by hand, if you have another method that you prefer, and are able to make adjustments accordingly. I happen to like stirring and kneading, because I rely on my hands to tell me when the correct amount of flour has been added. Plus, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of using your own hands to turn a shaggy, floury mass of not-quite combined ingredients into the most glorious, smooth, shiny and supple ball of dough. I do some of my best thinking while kneading, too.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shannon Molden
    Shannon Molden
  • Transcendancing
  • erskinechef
  • Ashley Marie
    Ashley Marie
  • AntoniaJames

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

See problem, solve problem. Ask questions; question answers. Disrupt, with kindness, courtesy and respect. ;o)

102 Reviews

Donna R. January 14, 2023
What size loaf pan should be used for this recipe?
Pat44113 November 15, 2022
i made this today to use up the rest of a pint of butter milk. Waste not, want not. I used a a hand mixer with two spiral hooks to mix the dough. The dough came out of the bowl and was easy to knead while adding flour, Good finger workout. Put it in the oven to proof. After 90 minutes it had expanded 50% instead of 100%, as I expected. Uh, uh, this is not going well. But I punched it down, rolled it into a log and put into a bread pan for the second rise. Once again, a pathetic rise. So I put it into the oven with very low expectations. I was remembering back to the time I accidently used corn starch instead of baking soda in a date and walnut loaf. It was actually edible but not shareable. About ten minutes in, I realized I'd forgotten to slash the top. So I pulled it out and slashed it. At that stage, it had risen quite a lot, which was a pleasant surprise. I finished baking and ended up with a nice looking loaf. I usually eat a slice or two and then slice and freeze the rest for the next week. It had great texture and a nice crust. My only complaint is that is a little too sweet for my taste. So, next time I bake it, I will cut back on the honey.
Jessie January 18, 2022
Great as is, but if you have baked bread before, you can substitute some of the flour with others with great taste and texture.
A great recipe, truly.
AntoniaJames January 18, 2022
Thank you, Jessie. I now live at 5,000 ft, so haven't made this since I moved here nearly 4 years ago. I think I'll try to make this (adjusting, using tips from high altitude baking pros) substituting spelt flour for some of the bread flour - and using yogurt whey instead of buttermilk. Making Greek yogurt every week, I've found whey to be the perfect stand-in for buttermilk. Stay tuned. ;o)
LULULAND May 15, 2020
Can this be made in a bread machine?
smita July 13, 2017
Antonia, I made two loaves this bread too! I followed one of your comments below to substitute 1/3 cup flour for 1/3 cup barley flour (45 gms) and that is the second loaf I made side by side. Both were absolutely delicious breads. None like I have ever made. Your recipes just plain work and are so well balanced for flavor and texture and directions are succinct yet meticulous. Thank you for posting this. I will indeed be making these breads again and again as they are so easy and tasty.
As for the barley flour bread: I have never baked with barley before. I found it needed 6 Tbs more water and could have have drunk in another 2 Tbs easily. Yet it was not even close to as slack as the straight dough. I didn't know what I was doing so I did not continue to add more water as I thought the bread could become gummy (it didn't). Is this fairly typical that adding such a small amount barley flour will require so much more liquid? The dough was quite stiff and barely extensible unlike the straight dough however it was noticeable much bigger! It was as if the barley caused it to swell. It baked into a huge loaf with a sweet flavor and velvety texture. Even though it was so big it did not have much holes. Lovely!

Now(!) Enticed by your advocacy I have a huge stash of barley flakes and barley flour. So glad I do because I think I like them. Appealing to your kindness and experience again, if you don't mind please, how else can I use these?
Can I add barley flakes to oatmeal cookies or other oatmeal breads? Substituting say 20%? or more? Would I have to adjust moisture in the cookies (or breads) or baking time? Would the cookies become chewier/crisper/softer/denser? Where else can I use barley flakes?
And barley flour? Can I substitute a little bit of that in cookies? How does barley flour behave in cookies? Softer, chewier? How do you adjust the recipe for cookies?
Thank you Antonia. Again, my compliments!
By the way: from your comments below, I have the same experience with whey. Whey makes great breads. And whey makes absolutely outstanding naan. The best naan I have ever eaten for flavor and texture.
And I saw the picture of two beautiful, dapper young men :)

Shannon M. January 15, 2016
Wonderful bread. The only change I have made, is that I run the oats through my food processor to break them down before adding it. I find it makes an even finer crumb. This bread keeps well too. Just love it.
AntoniaJames January 19, 2016
Thank you, Shannon, for your kind words and also for the suggestion to buzz the oats in the food processor beforehand. I'll have to try that! ;o)
Transcendancing July 22, 2015
This was a great bread! I did find that I had a super long rising time and it still didn't rise as much as I might have anticipated though - I'm thinking I should have used more yeast even though it was instant. I wasn't under any particular time pressure though so the unexpected delay was fine :) It's probably a bit sweet for my taste for anything but a treat, but it's delicious!
AntoniaJames July 22, 2015
Transcendancing, thank you for your kind words. I too find it a bit sweet as written - my family loves it for toast -- so when making it when I know it will be used mostly for sandwiches, I dial back to honey to a scant tablespoon. Often, if my honey is kind of solid (which is usually the case in this cool marine climate), I use a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar instead.

Also, FYI,
I'll be posting a new version of this recipe separately stated in weight measures soon. I'll also post the new information here in a comment. (I cannot edit this recipe given that it was a contest finalist.) ;o)
Transcendancing July 22, 2015
That's useful to know! It's cold here at the moment so my honey was also kind of solid. I think this bread would make a great French Toast actually! I'd love a link to the update when you post it - if you post it here I'll definitely get it :) Also if you feel up to including the metric measurements I'd be so grateful - but go with what works for you :)
bbrowning March 20, 2015
Made this for the second time today. Tweaked recipe a little for making the dough in a bread maker. First attempt the dough was to dry so increased buttermilk to a full cup and measured flour by volume. For the second attempt shaped the dough into dinner rolls and they turned out wonderful. Will be making them over and over again. Thank you for this recipe. Will be trying more of yours in the near future.
KK December 1, 2014
Thank you for this wonderful and easy to make recipe. The bread is so flavorful.
AntoniaJames December 2, 2014
I'm so glad you like it! ;o)
Tasha November 5, 2014
If using the microwave method for rising (step 17) how long do you leave it in the microwave for each rise. Have never tried this but am anxious to do so as one of the reasons I don't make breads the rising time (but this may solve that!). Would this method work for other bread recipes? Thanks!
erskinechef February 13, 2014
Antonia, can't wait to try this. I have never made my own bread but no time like the present!
Louise R. February 8, 2014
How can I convert this to a bread machine recipe? Arthritis in my hands makes kneading a painful chore. Thanks!
AntoniaJames February 12, 2014
Louise, someone else asked that question about 6 months ago. Rather than making you scroll down to find it, I've copied and will paste my response here:

I haven't used a bread machine in quite a long time, but here's what I'd do:

I'd add the three tablespoons of water to the buttermilk as well as the baking soda, in the bottom of the bread machine pan. I'd put the honey and melted butter (or olive oil, which is a good substitute) on top of that. (I wouldn't bother to add the pinch of sugar, as you won't be proofing the yeast.) Then I'd add all of the dry ingredients, putting the yeast on top.

Use instant yeast for this. "Active dry yeast" has a coating on it that must be dissolved in water first. Although the moisture of the dough could be sufficient to dissolve the coating, I'd try to use instant.

If at all possible, I'd also use just the dough cycle, baking this in the oven. It makes a beautiful loaf. You would shape it after it's fully risen, and let it rise for 20 - 30 minutes in the bread pan before baking as noted above. Also, if you bake it in the oven, check it after 25 minutes or so and tent (loosely cover with aluminum foil) if it's gotten rather brown on top by then. Breads with honey, sugar and milk can get dark quickly.

Have fun! I hope it works out for you. (I do hope you can shape the dough into a loaf that you can bake in the oven. It will, I'm certain, turn out better than if you bake it in the machine.) ;o)
Esther January 17, 2014
I just made this and LOVE it. Tanks for the great recipe
AntoniaJames January 24, 2014
You're welcome! I'm so glad you like it. I'll be posting a separate iteration of this allowing the bake to use either an existing 100% hydration starter or an overnight poolish. It's even tastier. Stay tuned. ;o)
Ashley M. December 27, 2013
This is my new favorite bread recipe! Just made it last night and even though I didn't have buttermilk (used 7/8 cup milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar), it turned out perfectly! I make a loaf of bread every week for my boyfriend (he eats a slice or two for breakfast and usually takes a sandwich for lunch) and I usually try to stay away from the bread, but this week it's going to be hard not to eat some (I've already had a slice with some warm Plugra!) Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
AntoniaJames January 24, 2014
Splendid! I made bread on a regular basis while in law school for my then-boyfriend, now-husband of 30+ years. He lived on it, as yours has been. (Mr T, who at the time was a junior associate in a law firm in another city, was also known to eat it for dinner.) Thanks so much for your kind words. ;o)
Jazzball August 30, 2013
Has anyone tried replacing 1/2 the bread flour with whole wheat?
AntoniaJames August 30, 2013
Yes, I've done so from time to time. It's really important that the other flour be bread flour, or that you give it a boost with "vital gluten." Even so, as would be expected, it's a somewhat denser loaf. But it still tastes great! You should try to give it a longer rise. (And I'd stir the ingredients together, let them sit for about 25 minutes, and then knead it. This give the gluten time to develop, making it easier to knead and producing a better baked loaf.) Let me know, please, how it turns out. Thank you. ;o)
Jazzball August 30, 2013
Thank you, Antonia, for the specificity and authority (and speed) of your reply! The brunch I was planning to make this for may not happen, so I might not prepare it right away. But I will definitely let you know when I do. Thanks again.
Skinny B. August 19, 2013
Congrats on this recipe Antonia James! I have a question. I am thinking of using this recipe on a bread machine. Is there anything specific I need to do?
AntoniaJames August 20, 2013
Hi, SB. I haven't used a bread machine in quite a long time, but here's what I'd do:

I'd add the three tablespoons of water to the buttermilk as well as the baking soda, in the bottom of the bread machine pan. I'd put the honey and melted butter (or olive oil, which is a good substitute) on top of that. (I wouldn't bother to add the pinch of sugar, as you won't be proofing the yeast.) Then I'd add all of the dry ingredients, putting the yeast on top.

Use instant yeast for this. "Active dry yeast" has a coating on it that must be dissolved in water first. Although the moisture of the dough could be sufficient to dissolve the coating, I'd try to use instant.

If at all possible, I'd also use just the dough cycle, baking this in the oven. It makes a beautiful loaf. You would shape it after it's fully risen, and let it rise for 20 - 30 minutes in the bread pan before baking as noted above. Also, if you bake it in the oven, check it after 25 minutes or so and tent (loosely cover with aluminum foil) if it's gotten rather brown on top by then. Breads with honey, sugar and milk can get dark quickly.

Please let me know how it turns out! I have a young friend who uses a bread machine with whom I'd love to share this recipe, if it works well for you.
Many thanks. ;o)
MrDot September 2, 2013
Hi Antonia, sorry this is a bit late. I'm SB's boyfriend and I used your recipe in my bread machine. I'm more of a "set it and forget it" kind of breadmaker, so it's not much to look at, but the bread itself is delicious. I used my regular "active dry yeast" and I made my own buttermilk with vinegar and whole milk, but otherwise followed your recommendations. I have a new favorite recipe.
AntoniaJames September 3, 2013
Thank you, MrDot for letting me know. I'm glad it worked out and that it's a new favorite for you. That's quite a compliment! You might want to consider adapting my "Everyday Potato Bread" recipe (posted here on FOOD52), as well. It's been a favorite here in my house for over 20 years . . . . ;o)
Emalie June 28, 2013
Is it possible to replace the honey with sugar and get the same results? I am out of honey but would like to make this bread today!
AntoniaJames June 28, 2013
Yes, I do it all the time! I usually use a tablespoon of brown sugar when I don't feel like using honey. You could use white sugar, too. I'd probably use a scant tablespoon, and no more, as sugar tends to seem sweeter in baked bread than honey. ;o)
AntoniaJames June 20, 2012
Just to follow up on the comments/thread with Rivka re using a levain to boost flavor, etc. in this bread . . . . I've been using metric measurements whenever possible for the past year or so. To convert this recipe for use with a 100% hydration wild yeast levain, use 250 grams of active levain (i.e., one that's been recently fed and brought to room temperature), 260 grams of flour, 93 grams of buttermilk (I've been using ricotta whey lately and just love the results.), and 50 grams of oatmeal. I reduce the yeast to 1 1/2 teaspoons, or less if planning very long rise. I don't add any water because I know my yeast is good, and prefer to use as much whey as possible. If using active dry yeast, which generally works better when softened in liquid, simply drop it into the levain for a minute or so, before incorporating the levain with the dry ingredients. I wouldn't proof the yeast in whey or buttermilk because of its potentially high level of acid. (I read somewhere that acid adversely affects yeast.) The levain works just fine to dissolve the coating on the yeast, so I have seen no need to confirm or disprove that, in this case. I'll post the substitutions noted above in a new recipe when time permits in the coming weeks. ;o)
Rivka May 13, 2012
Adapted this recipe to work with my sourdough starter, and thought I'd share my proportions in case others were interested in doing the same. I roughly followed a formula from Clotilde (, measuring out the requisite amounts of flour and water called for here to check their weight before converting the recipe. Here's what I came up with:

- 4 oz starter (100% hydration)
- 11.5 oz flour (I used 2/3 white, 1/3 barley), so not quite 3 cups
- 6 oz buttermilk, or 3/4 cup
- same quantities of everything else

As with all bread recipes, the quantities will vary with temperature at humidity. Today, these quantities produced a lovely loaf.

One other note: because I was using sourdough starter straight from the fridge, I doubled the initial rising time, which, happily, did the trick. If you try it with starter, let me know if these quantities work for you and/or what you changed.

Thanks, AJ!

AntoniaJames May 14, 2012
Rivka, thank you! Is this a happy coincidence, or did you see my question on the Hotline seeking to find new ways to use the wild-yeast levain starter I developed last month? I'm trying this tonight! ;o)
Rivka May 14, 2012
Just the happiest of coincidences! Hope you enjoy it. It was an absolutely delicious platform for my scrambled eggs, chevre, and chives this morning.
AntoniaJames May 16, 2012
Rivka, did you use any yeast, and if so, did you also use the 3 tablespoons of water for proofing? Or did you forego it altogether? My breads with the levain will rise with just the wild yeast, though it takes longer, so I add 1/4 teaspoon of yeast when I add the other ingredients to the levain. I'm wondering though what you did. Thank you. ;o)
Rivka May 16, 2012
I didn't use any yeast. My starter is :) I didn't add the water, but had it not been so humid out, I might have upped the buttermilk and/or added some water.
AntoniaJames May 17, 2012
Rivka, how did you figure this out? I'd like to try doing the same thing with my barley and whey bread recipe (which, happily, I recorded in grams). Thank you!
Rivka May 29, 2012
Sorry I missed this. See the link in my initial comment - Clotilde offers a formula that I've found to work with minimal tweaking.
AntoniaJames May 29, 2012
Thanks so much. I actually did exactly that, last week, and it was fantastic. And I've made this bread twice now as well, also converting to grams (so much easier!). Over the weekend, I used whey from ricotta for all of the balance of the liquid. It was whey that had been in the fridge for over a week, so I wasn't sure whether it would be too acid. But it turned out beautifully! I recorded the details, so I plan to post it as a separate recipe before too long. I am utterly sold on the ease of weighing instead of measuring by volume, and on the wonderful taste that a wild yeast levain brings to a great loaf of homemade bread! ;o)
Rivka May 30, 2012
Sounds delicious. Love the idea of using whey.

I used real buttermilk instead of the processed stuff my second time around, and it made a huge difference. Bread was so much richer and creamier. Really delicious. I whipped up another batch last night (that's when I saw your comment), and I'm experimenting with an overnight rise in the fridge followed by a short rise later tonight when I get home. Will let you know how it goes.
AntoniaJames July 2, 2013
I made this again the other day using my 100% wild yeast levain. Outstanding! I think I'm going to have to post it, in grams as i now weigh in grams whenever possible, and with a couple of substitutions I often make (olive oil for butter, brown sugar -- a bit less -- for the honey). Makes memorable toast. ;o)
nutcakes February 18, 2012
I just ate this bread with a turkey sandwich with pickles. The bread is a little sweet for that but I enjoyed it. The thin and sweet crust is interesting, and it is very good alone. Will make again, was easy to throw together and let the Kitchenaid do the kneading, which I prefer.