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Vegan Soda Bread (with Rosemary, Thyme, and Dates)

Posted Mar 09 2012 6:15am

Cookies haven’t been the only thing I’ve been baking in multiple batches lately.

Just as I simply had to tinker around with the formula for my near perfect vegan cookie , I couldn’t resist tinkering with the recipe I concocted for my Irish Breakfast (Soda) Bread. I decided not only to experiment with a more savoury* bread, but also to make it vegan.

*And yes, I shall continue to spell savoury with a u. It just feels more right that way.

The savoury part was easy enough: when in doubt, I season with rosemary and thyme. [And who needs a spice grinder when you've got fingers to crush the rosemary?]

The more challenging part was figuring out how to replace one of the four critical components to traditional Irish Soda Bread: buttermilk. But in the end, that wasn’t tricky at all. I just made a vegan buttermilk, taking the typically suggested substitution of adding vinegar to cow’s milk…and added vinegar to unsweetened soy milk instead. The dates? Well I don’t know where that idea came from*…but it was pure genius in the end. In fact, I even wished I’d added more.

*OK. Fine. I’m sure it was the result of the dates being already out on the counter from the sweet Irish Breakfast Soda Bread baking in the oven and me thinking, “Hmmm….what would happen if….” You might need to add more whole wheat pastry flour to the dough after mixing. [You want it to be tacky like a teacher sweater...but not so sticky that you end up eating more dough off of your hands than ends up molded into a loaf.] The top will probably brown long before the 30-40 minutes of heat exposure has baked the bread all the way through. You can “tent” the loaf with aluminum foil, or just plop a metal bowl on top. :) Now, to be honest, I loved the sweet soda bread …but this? Well this inspired cravings unlike any other. It stayed moist and doughy longer, and the slight sweetness of the dates made for a strangely addictive pairing with the herbaciousness of the thyme and rosemary. For me, not normally a “bread person,” to eat two hunks of it for dinner and still crave another piece immediately the following morning…well, you know it has to be good.

Oh, and it has a really cute vegan bread behind, too. ;)

[I should also mention the reason there's no photograph of the whole loaf in one piece is because I was "tasting" the finished product discreetly and suddenly a huge hunk of it  had disappeared before I even knew what was happening.]

Vegan Savoury Soda Bread

(with Rosemary, Thyme, Dates)

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour, separated
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 4 dates, chopped (about 1/4 cup)–or more if you are me :)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine vinegar and soymilk in a measuring cup or small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, salt, thyme, and rosemary.
  4. Make a “well” in the center of the flour mixture and pour in soymilk/vinegar mixture (“vegan buttermilk”).
  5. Add ground flax.
  6. Stir wet and dry ingredients together until almost completely combined.
  7. Mix in chopped dates.
  8. Add extra whole wheat pastry flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time, if the dough is too sticky to form into a large round loaf. [It should be 'tacky' but not so sticky that it won't form a loaf.]
  9. Place loaf onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Score crossways along the top with a knife.
  10. Bake approximately 40 minutes, ‘tenting’ with aluminum foil (or covering with an oven-safe bowl) if the top begins to brown too quickly.
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