Easy Irish Soda bread, ready in one hour! With dried fruit and classic flavors like caraway, this simple vegan bread recipe is fun to make and a great pairing for so many meals.
What is soda bread?
Soda bread is a traditional provision eaten in many parts of the world today. Traditionally, soda bread is made with just flour, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), salt, and buttermilk. What makes this bread unique is that no yeast is involved in the baking process; also, no heavy kneading is required when preparing. As the name implies, baking soda and buttermilk do all of the leavening for you.
If you’ve made banana bread, think of this process as a similar “quick bread.” One slight difference is that instead of baking in a traditional loaf pan, this soda bread bakes right on a tray, freeform.
How does soda bread rise?
Buttermilk in the soda bread dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to create bubbles of carbon dioxide. This negates the need for yeast and intense kneading to build up a gluten network in the dough. Overworking the dough via kneading can actually yield a tougher end product, so stay away from mixing too heavily.
Soda bread is notable for its classic crumb structure, so keep this in mind when considering the final texture. The crust in particular will be nice and crispy.
How to Make Soda Bread
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, add almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.
- Combine in a large bowl flour, brown sugar, raisins if using, flaxseeds, cornstarch, baking soda, sea salt, and caraway seeds if using. Mix until incorporated (no need to knead).
- Add melted butter to buttermilk and slowly pour wet into dry ingredients well in large bowl. Fold dry mixture into wet. Mold dough into shape of your choice on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for around 50-60 minutes, until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cool fully before slicing.
Can I omit raisins in soda bread?
Yes, you can easily leave the raisins out of this recipe. I know some people really don’t enjoy dried fruit, so I’d imagine any other fold-in (nuts, maybe?) would be tasty. However, the slight tang from the baking soda is a wonderful treat that pairs wonderfully with dried fruit. Soda bread made with raisins is colloquially called “Spotted Dog” or “Spotted Dick” in parts of Ireland.
History of Soda Bread
Traditional Irish soda bread was historically cooked on a griddle (like a flatbread). At this time, regularly available flours did not have the protein qualities needed to rise when combined with yeast. Baking soda was a simple alternative, making it a popular option until more high gluten flours become more readily available.
What to Eat with Soda Bread
This bread is delicious when toasted and slathered with butter or strawberry jam, pictured here. The plain version (without raisins) is also a nice pairing for soups and salads.
I hope you enjoy this simple loaf and that it helps get you through these last few weeks of winter, if that’s your area of the world. Enjoy!
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