Sunday, November 22, 2009

"i'm a pioneer woman!"

I just made my very first batch of Irish soda bread!

Now, I know this is not a true bread in the sense that it's made with yeast and takes hours to make. This stuff is really easy. But, I feel like bread making is one of the first steps to someday becoming completely self sufficient. Next step, urban chickens! (Brandon is obsessed with the idea of someday having backyard chickens.)

Plus, I know what went into this stuff. There's no high fructose corn syrup or weird preservatives. Yep, making my own bread really fits with my food philosophy.

I liked the flavor, it was hearty and had a thick cracker-like crust. It tasted delicious with a spread of pumpkin butter from Brandon's mom. (Thanks Mrs. Debbie.) (I love a good apple butter and have recently discovered pumpkin and sweet potato butters. Yum!) I don't think I would use this bread for a traditional sandwich. But honestly, I don't eat that many sandwiches anyway. It would be a nice open face sandwich bread.

It was easy to make this recipe fasting friendly. Every recipe I found calls for buttermilk, simply use soy milk mixed with vinegar to create vegan buttermilk. The reason buttermilk is used is because the acid in the milk and the baking soda in the bread mix together to leaven the bread. (Remember science class? I always loved the baking soda/ vinegar experiment!)

Here's the recipe I used from It was really simple, and came together in a matter of minutes.

  • Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (next time I plan to use all whole wheat flour instead of half AP half whole wheat.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk (To substitute buttermilk: place 2 1/4 teaspoons vinegar in a measuring cup, then fill to the 2 1/4 cup mark with milk or soymilk. Stir together and let sit for a few minutes until it has curdled. It will change in texture and look thicker.)

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with oil and sprinkle with a little flour.
  • Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
  • Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
  • Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.

I promise, you're gonna love this stuff!!!

PS: One of my favorite parts about making this bread is making the cross with a sharp knife before cooking. Ireland has a long Christian history, so this traditional detail made me smile. Here's an explanation of the meaning from one website:

"The cross on the soda bread has several explanations. Legend has it that folks did it to "let the devil out" while it's baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. It was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays."


LeahBud said...

I didn't know you had a blog!
how do you follow dis here blog?!

Laura said...

This looks lovely, I may have to try this recipe.

What do you mean it's not a true bread because it has yeast? I need to be enlightened by your food wisdom. :)