Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Irish Soda Bread, Two Ways

I have talked at length on this blog about how I'm trying to eat a whole-food, vegan diet, and avoid flour and sugar. But every now and then (particularly on holidays) one needs to splurge on a little carb-loaded comfort food. As you might have noticed, yesterday was a holiday, of sorts... St. Patrick's Day!

Now, I'm not Irish, but back in the late 90's I happened to marry into an Irish family. My former husband's grandmother bestowed upon me a recipe for Irish Soda bread. Perhaps she gave it to me as a way to welcome me into the family, or maybe she was just trying to make sure her grandson would still get soda bread, even though he chose to dirty up the Irish bloodline by marrying a non-Irish mongrel. Either way, I was happy to have it.

Although the marriage didn't last, it did produce three beautiful half-Irish children. To this day, I still bake soda bread for them every St. Patrick's Day. In the beginning, I made it the traditional way, with white flour and buttermilk. As the years went on, and I started trying to eat healthier, I altered the recipe a bit, by using whole wheat flour instead of white. Soda bread is actually made with whole wheat flour in Ireland as well... but then it's called "brown bread" instead of soda bread. As I've given up dairy, I've further changed things up, so that now I can make it vegan, too. Today I'm going to share both recipes with you. First, the original way, then, my slightly healthier way. Without further ado...

Nana Cheever's Irish Soda Bread

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

(caraway seeds and raisins are optional... Nana often used caraway seeds. Though I hear that most Irish people say that those additions are not authentically Irish.)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the milk, and mix just until it's all blended together well. Dust a board with flour and shape the dough into a round loaf, adding more flour as needed, but being careful not to knead the dough too much, as excessive handling will make the loaf tough. Place the loaf on a greased pan. If you want to, you can score the top with an "x" with a sharp knife. Pop it in the other for 30-40 minutes, until it's nice and brown.

Mama's Healthier Vegan Soda Bread (or, "brown bread")

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups unsweetened alternative milk (I used unsweetened hemp milk, this time)
1 Tbsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350. Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the milk mixture, and mix until just blended together. Since whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture than white, you may need to add a smidge more milk, just a tiny bit at a time so you don't add too much. Dust a board with flour and proceed as above.
Our loaf from yesterday, fresh from the oven...
crusty on the outside, warm and tender on the inside. 

1 comment:

  1. Looks so good! I can't wait to make this, but I am definitely a raisins girl.