I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to food (except for, you know, the whole vegan thing). I adore simple, old world recipes; the stuff our grandmothers could whip up using nothing more than intuition and what she had on hand. Simple, rustic food that’s quick to pull together but big on comfort. You could say I’m a history buff, with a focus on food and family, instead of politics and war.
As such, I’ve always enjoy marking seasonal holidays with food, and while I don’t usually go too crazy for Saint Patrick’s Day, I do love having an excuse to make a hefty loaf of soda bread. I adore the flavour of caraway, and this is pretty much the only recipe I use it in, as the rest of my family isn’t so keen (though they don’t seem to mind them here).
This version is more decadent than most; I don’t have any qualms about tinkering with an old recipe if the result is an improvement on the original. I love the simplicity of classic soda bread, but it does have a tendency to be dry. In this recipe, I’ve bumped up the richness, making it a little more scone-like. The fat from the coconut milk makes it flaky and moist like butter would, without the effort of cutting it in.
I use a bit of sprouted spelt flour to make it more wholesome, but feel free to use all white, or to play with the ratio. The dough could also be made into individual scones instead of a loaf; just reduce baking time to about 15 – 20 minutes.
This bread really shines when it’s fresh, but it’s kind of a treat to have it toasted the next day, so don’t feel like you have to finish it all in one go (though you might not be able to help yourself).
There’s a reason some things become traditions.
Irish Soda Bread
A vegan twist on an old favourite. Moist and tender, and quick to pull together, you’ll want it more than just on Saint Patrick’s Day!
- 4 cups flour (I use one cup whole wheat and 3 cups unbleached)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds (double this amount if you really love caraway, or omit if you don’t)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup raisins, currants, or craisins (or a combination)
- 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup minus 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (I prefer soy)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a square of parchment to line a cast iron frying pan (10 inch or more), or baking sheet.
Mix first seven (dry) ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir well to combine, and break up and clumps of dried fruit.
In a large measuring cup or small bowl, measure coconut milk and stir well to remove as many lumps as possible.
Put apple cider vinegar into measuring cup and fill to the one cup mark with non-dairy milk.
Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir to combine. (I like to use the handle of a wooden spoon to do this, as it’s easier to clean than the bowl of the spoon).
When liquid is mostly incorporated, dump everything onto the counter and knead briefly to combine (no more than 12 turns). Form into a ball.
Place ball of dough on parchment and brush with a small amount milk. Sprinkle the crust with a tablespoon or so of sugar (coarse, if you have it). Cut an X in the top of your loaf, about 1/2 an inch deep.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
Serve warm with butter (and jam, if desired).