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Jan O'Halloran's Brown Bread

Jan O'Halloran's Brown Bread 8.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Mar 9, 2018

This Irish home cook's recipe makes an especially easy, moist and nutty-tasting loaf, thanks to oats and ground flaxseed.

Be sure to use regular yogurt -- not the thicker Greek kind. For a sweet-leaning variation, add 3/4 cup of halved dried figs. Jan O'Halloran also likes to add a little ground turmeric and cracked black pepper to her loaves. This is a base recipe that takes well to experimentation.

Serve with salted butter.

To read the accompanying story, see: In Ireland, the best brown bread ever seemed foolproof. Then I tried it at home..


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes one 8-inch loaf

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing the parchment paper
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt (see headnote)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (about 4 1/2 cups) quick-cooking oats or instant oats (do not use regular rolled oats or individual packets of instant oats)
  • 1/4 cup whole or low-fat milk


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan (metal or glass) with buttered parchment paper.

Combine the yogurt and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Stir gently — small bubbles should begin to form and the mixture should fizz a bit. Add the flaxseed meal, beaten egg and salt, folding very gently from the edges toward the center.

Fold in half of the oats, then add the rest of the oats, and finally the milk, stirring to form a slightly sticky, dense dough. Transfer to the loaf pan and smooth out the top and sides, making sure the dough is sitting as evenly as possible.

Use the tip of a sharp knife to make a shallow slit lengthwise down the center, beginning and ending about an inch from the edges of the loaf pan. Bake (middle rack) for 1 hour, until the top is a deep golden brown.

Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and discard the parchment paper. Then, put a sheet of aluminum foil onto the oven rack, and place the bread on it, upside down. Bake for 10 minutes, until all the sides are a uniform, rich shade of brown.

Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely, right side up; it will seem quite moist, but will firm up as it cools. Cool completely before serving or storing.

Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Jan O’Halloran, a cook in County Clare, Ireland.

Tested by Kara Elder and Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using low-fat yogurt and milk): 270

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 6g 9%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 30mg 10%

Sodium: 520mg 22%

Total Carbohydrates: 44g 15%

Dietary Fiber: 6g 24%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 11g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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