Super simple Irish Soda Bread getting me through the pandemic!!!

I have to admit, while I tend to bake a lot for work, mostly cakes and pastries, I only baked bread if I was really in the mood. In general, it’s a big commitment of time. I always used bakers yeast. I definitely never had the patience for a traditional Levain starter. But even with yeast, that’s a 3-4 hour commitment. Granted you’re not actually doing 3-4 hours worth of work, but you get my point.

I tend to approach all my cooking from the perspective of a Kitchen Witch. Cooking is a pure form of magick in my book. When we cook, we infuse the food with our energy. I want to make sure every time I cook, I am putting my best energy into it. I don’t mean I am cooking in some professional award winning way. I mean I am putting my soul into it.

The act of cooking becomes very meditative for me. I visualize my husband and I enjoying the food. I visualize the future. Or sometimes I think of memories. And sometimes I clear my head and let things flow into my mind. Very much like using divination tools. So for those reasons, I tend not to make too many breads. I find it harder to stay in the right state of mind the whole time.

Well the universe decided that a lot of people would have a lot of free time. Just like way-too-many-people, I decided I would bake lots of bread during this time of isolation. Well the universe also decided I would be doing that without yeast! Flour and yeast are two kitchen staples that have become extremely hard for people to find, among many other things. That lead me to think more creatively about our meals.

Eating bread has been a big part of our lives in this house. So I wanted to still have that for us during this crazy time in the world. I strongly believe finding comforts in the home helps with your mental wellbeing. Or at least helps us in this home.

Since bread is one of our comforts, I had to think of a way for us to still enjoy it right now. That lead me to making things like arepas, fry bread, flat bread, tortillas, and Soda Bread. This soda bread is getting baked at least once a week in my home.

It is a super simple recipe, and the actual work time is minimal! I will usually go cooking the rest of the dinner while this bakes. Or you can even bake it earlier in the day and enjoy later. Though it is tastiest fresh from the oven!

Soda bread is not light and airy like traditional bread. It is much more dense, but still really enjoyable with stews, or warm with butter and jam. My husband likes to make sandwiches with it.

The process is simple. You’ll make your vegan buttermilk first. Let that sit on the counter while you gather the other ingredients and preheat your oven.

Then it’s just mixing the flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Once the buttermilk has had a few minutes to thicken, pour it into the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Then get your hands in their just to make sure it’s all combined.

DO NOT KNEAD!!! It is really important that you do not knead this dough. The goal is just to mix it. You don’t want the gluten getting too activated and making it hard for the baking soda to do its job.

Sprinkle some flour on a baking sheet. Form the dough into a ball and place it on the baking sheet. Cut the cross shape, sprinkle a bit of flour over the top of it, and bake! Once you take it out, you can carefully tilt the bread onto its side and tap the bottom center. You should hear a beautiful hollow sound. That’s how you know it will be perfect!

Let’s get to the recipe.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 1 ½ cups Vegan Milk + 1 ½ tbs Lemon Juice (I use soy milk)
  • 3 ½ cups AP Flour + extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. With your oven rack in the center position, preheat oven to 400f
  2. To make your buttermilk, in a small bowl mix the milk and lemon juice. Let sit for at least 5 minutes
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Stir in the thickened buttermilk. Combine till it becomes a thick dough. It will be sticky. That’s ok! You do not want to over mix this dough. Just mix till it is combined.
  5. Sprinkle some flour on your baking sheet.
  6. Form the dough into a ball shape and place on the floured baking sheet.
  7. Wish a sharp knife, cut the traditional cross shape into the top. You’ll want to cut about half way down the dough ball. This will help it bake more evenly.
  8. Push in any sides that flattened during the cutting, so it is still a ball-ish shape. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until you have a nice gold-brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before enjoying. You can also do the tap test on the bottom of the loaf, that we discussed before.
  • Some people like to fold in things like dried fruit or chopped nuts. That is completely up to you. I prefer to make it plain and enjoy with jam or a nice stew. If you decide to add in some extra stuff, just fold it in after the buttermilk is added. The amount is up to you.
  • This will keep for a couple days at room temperature in a sealed container.
  • Traditionally this bread was made in a dutch oven. I didn’t include instructions for that, because I wanted this recipe to be as accessible as possible. If you decide to try it in a dutch oven, You’ll want to bake it covered and then uncover it for the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
Joseph Cuevas

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