Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick's Day isn't complete without Irish soda bread. Growing up, it was a staple in our house every year when March rolled around. My mom uses a recipe that I think she received from her Irish grandmother. The "holiday season" started on Sunday for us when we went to the first parade of the year. Parades are all over Long Island in March, but the Rocky Point one is my favorite. My parents have been taking me since I was a baby. I've kept the tradition alive with Logan, bringing him for the second time this year. He's really into fire trucks, tractors, and anything else that makes noise, so he loved every second of it. The bagpipers and drummers, even the zombies (yes, there were zombies!) had his full attention. Taking the tradition even further, Logan wore a sweater that I wore to the same parade when I was his age. My grandmother bought it in Ireland, and my mom has kept it all these years.

All the festivities put me in the mood for Irish soda bread. I wanted Logan to be able to have some too, so I made some changes to my Grandma Bull's original recipe. Two eggs were substituted with apple purée, since that works in every recipe I've done. Part of what makes Irish soda bread so great is the buttery taste and texture. A typical oil substitution wasn't going to cut it this time, so I bought a "buttery spread" made with oils. I'm usually wary of vegan substitute products, but this stuff is amazing! It tastes even better than butter, and the 400 lb. fat kid that lives inside me LOVES butter. It took all my willpower not to stick my finger in the tub and eat it in fistfuls. Gross, I know. (Unfortunately, Bestlife may not be 100% vegan. The source of the vitamin D-3 varies and can come from animal product, so it's not deserving of the vegan seal. Bummer.) Anyways, the buttermilk was more challenging to substitute. I thought I would have to scrap this recipe, then I remembered how my mom makes buttermilk. She mixes one tablespoon of lemon juice with a cup of milk, and let's it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the recipe. I decided to give it a try with soy milk. It worked, but it gave the bread a sweet taste, even though the soy milk was unsweetened. Next time I'll try it with homemade almond milk, since I prefer Irish soda bread with a more rustic taste. *Check out the update at the end of the page.*

Add 1 1/2 Tbsp. of lemon juice to a measuring cup.
Pour soy milk on top of the lemon juice until the 1 1/2 cup mark.
Instant "buttermilk".
This recipe is almost as good as my moms, and it's not bad at all for a vegan bread. My mom makes it in a cast iron pan. I don't have any of those (but I have a birthday coming up, hint hint!), so I made it in an 8 x 8 pan. Now that I think about it I could have made it in a casserole or pie dish to give it a circular shape. I'm sure I'll be making this bread again before the month is up, so when I make it again with the almond milk and in a pie dish I'll post an update. I also usually add raisins, but since I'm the only one who likes them I left them out this time.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • < 1 1/2 cups of almond/soy milk 
  • 4 cups of flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 4 Tbsp. butter substitute (I used Bestlife buttery spread), softened 
  • 1 cup of sugar 
  • 1/2 cup apple purée (store bought applesauce would work, too) 
  •  1 cup of raisins (optional) 

Ready for the oven.
  1.  Preheat oven to 350. 
  2.  Put the lemon juice in a 2 cup measuring cup, and add the milk until you reach the 1 1/2 up mark. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before adding it to the rest of the recipe. 
  3.  Mix the flour, soda, powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. 
  4.  Stir in the apple, buttermilk, and butter substitute. Mix until combined. The butter substitute may not blend perfectly, but that's ok. 
  5.  Fold in the raisins if using. 
  6.  Place the mixture in a greased 10" cast iron skillet (or a pie pan or casserole dish). Make an "X" across the top of the bread (you can make a shamrock shape to be festive). 
  7.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Keep an eye on the bread, as cooking times may vary with the type of pan used. 

 "May the road rise up to meet you. 
 May the wind be always at your back. 
 May the sun shine warm upon your face; 
the rains fall soft upon your fields. 
 And until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of His hand." 
Irish Blessing


Update 3/15/12:

*I made the Irish soda bread again tonight using almond milk and regular, unbleached flour (in the previous recipe I used whole wheat flour).  I also baked it in a glass casserole dish for 70 minutes. This was much more authentic and similar to the original recipe!

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