If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know I consider my mother-in-law, Wini Goldberg Costigan, to be my culinary mentor. As a young child, I found my love of cooking and baking at my grandmother Ida’s side in her kitchen. How I loved helping her make those sugar cookies and my favorite, her flueden cake – but I was small, just 4 or 5 years old, and she belonged to the no-recipe generation. Wini, on the other hand, followed the recipes that she’d handwritten onto index cards. All of her baked goods were unbelievably good. Thanks to my daughter, Tracy, I have some of Wini’s recipe cards.
I’ve already written about veganizing Wini’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, a recipe I found on one of her cards. I do remember the Brown Bread Wini baked in a coffee can, as well as her Irish Soda Bread. With St. Patrick’s Day coming, I decided to make the Soda Bread. All I had to do was replace an egg (I halved the recipe) make vegan buttermilk and replace the honey. Then I had to try to decipher the scant instructions. Original soda bread has four basic ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt, and it is not limited to Ireland. These breads are a kind of a quick bread. Moving beyond the basic elements, they can be flavored in any number of ways. Today, the breads often contain additional ingredients like sugar, butter, eggs, raisins or currants, and caraway seeds to enhance the flavor and texture of the bread. The crust is crisp, the inside, dense and chewy.
There was no description of the dough on the card for me to go by, but most recipes say the dough is soft and sticky. Mine was that, and would not shape into a ball to put into a baking sheet, but the card said to put the dough into a bowl and bake. Instead of a bowl, I baked the bread in a cake pan, and I made the traditional X cut in the top towards the end of baking—it was too soft to slash earlier. I’d figured that I’d use less liquid the next time, and/or knead in more flour, but I really liked this result, so I’m sticking with it. I didn’t add the caraway seeds
For St. Patrick’s Day, I give you my vegan version of Wini’s Irish Soda Bread and a tidbit from an Irish Vegan Baking Boot Camp student, Mary. Did you know that an Irish tablespoon is the same quantity as an American tablespoon plus a teaspoon. Use U.S. measures here!
Vegan Irish Soda Bread
- 2 cups soy or almond milk (I used soy)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Egg replacer for 1 egg (I used Bob’s Red Mill egg repplacer)
- 3 1/2 cups to 3 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar, optional
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup caraway seeds, optional
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (this replaced Wini’s honey)
- 4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoons fine sea salt
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Grease a 7x2” cake pan and set aside.
(Wini’s recipe said bake in bowl. I have no idea what bowl, so I used a cake pan.)
Make the buttermilk: Mix the soymilk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and allow the milk to sour for about 10 minutes. If you are using soymilk, it will become very thick.
Sift 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the raisins, and caraway and sugar if using and stir to mix.
Combine the buttermilk, egg replacer, and maple syrup in a separate bowl and mix well. (Wini mixed the buttermilk, egg, baking soda but I added the soda to the dry ingredients.)
Pour the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to mix to dough until you have a soft dough. If it is very sticky, add 2 tablespoons of flour, mix, and decide if you need another 2 tablespoons. (Mine took 2 tablespoons. It will still be soft when it is right.)
Fill cake pan with the batter, mounding it a bit higher in the center if possible, and bake in the oven. At 35 minutes, remove the cake from the oven and using scissors, quickly cut a deep X in the center of the loaf.
Return the bread to the oven and bake another 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and skewer inserted deeply into the center in a few spots is clean.
Cool the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely. You should end up with a bread that is smooth and a bit dense.
Slice using a serrated knife and serve with some good vegan butter and /or jam or a good slab or a vegan cheddar. Or, eat it plain, or make toast and sandwiches.