It takes under an hour to make an Irish soda bread, but that’s not the best thing about it. The reason I love this bread so much is because it is beautifully textured and light and intensely flavorful.
I pack more flavor and health into my soda bread by making it with whole wheat. This is a great bread for those days when you would love a homemade loaf don’t have the time to bake a yeasted one. Soda bread, as the name suggest, of course uses baking soda and not yeast as a leavening agent which means it does not have to go through all the rising and kneading that yeasted bread does.
Try not to knead your soda bread dough too much–instead treat it as you would a pie dough. The resulting bread will look a little rough around the edges but it tastes superb. That is because not kneading the dough keeps the gluten from getting too active and results in a tender, lighter loaf. The cream of tartar used in this recipe also helps give an airier crumb, but if you can’t find it, use 1 tbsp baking powder instead.
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups soymilk + 1 tbsp vinegar, whisked together and set aside to curdle around 10 minutes
2 tbsp oil
Mix together the dry ingredients. Then add the soymilk-vinegar mixture and oil and, using a ladle or spatula, mix until just combined.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and push together with your palms to form a circle. Don’t knead to get a smooth look because– as I said before– you don’t want to over-activate the gluten.
With a sharp, serrated knife, cut a fairly deep cross all across the top of the loaf. This will puff out and separate when you bake the loaf, allowing both the gases to escape as well as giving the loaf a pretty look.
Place in a lightly oiled cast-iron skillet or on a baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven about 55 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf is firm. Brush the top with some vegan butter or oil to get a glossier look.
Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing or cutting into wedges.
For other great whole-wheat breads, try my French Bread, my Sandwich Bread, or my soymilk pompoms.
I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.–Gary Larson