Well and a happy and glorious Saint Patrick’s Day to you! In or out, at work or a parade, with friends at a bar or a pub crawl or at home with your family, I hope you have all had a lovely day, Irish or not.
The Ghost of Saint Patrick’s Days Past?
When I think back on Saint Patrick Days of yore, certain memories eclipse others. I remember “cutting” high school (and cutting is in quotes because my mother knew full well I wasn’t going to school) and taking the subway with friends to watch the St. Paddy’s Day parade in NYC. I remember being 23 and faithfully escorted home by friends after indulging one too many whiskeys at the Irish Pub in Philadelphia 😉 (in my weak defense, I had just worked a 16 hour shift and no breakfast or lunch, but…still, yeah, not a pretty site). I must say though, that my fondest St. Patrick’s memories are of my mother’s Irish Soda Bread…the distinct and comforting aroma of this quick bread warm from the oven and slathered with butter…ahhh! Even when away at college, a wonderful care package would always arrive for me in the mail room at Penn by the 17th of March- the Irish bread wrapped in layers of foil and plastic wrap and quickly unwrapped devoured by me and my roomies.
If it’s Vegan is it Really Irish Soda Bread?
Of course, a lot has changed since then (duh) and the focus here of course is sharing my Vegan Irish Soda bread with you all. Like my mom’s, this quick bread is delicious and comforting and smells wonderful. It’s perfect plain, toasted or topped with a bit of Earth Balance, and paired with a cup of dark coffee (or even Guinness 😉 ) well, it’s the bees knees!
I tried to keep close to my mom’s recipe while making the usual subs (soy milk and apple cider vinegar in lieu of buttermilk, for example.) And really, the original recipes for Irish Soda Bread, as uncovered by my extensive Google-search, were basically vegan, except for the buttermilk. In fact, the earliest recipes, (circa 1836) used sour milk purchased from creameries that would normally discard it (brilliant!), instead of buttermilk. There’s even a patented recipe by John Whiting from England, whose 3 ingredient patent was wheaten flour mixed with Sodium bicarb and pure water…pretty damn vegan, right? but probably tasted like shite…
Anyway, I discovered that “true” Irish Soda Bread does NOT include raisins or butter even though that is what most of us have come to expect. The bread shown here and the one I grew up on should really be referred to as “Spotted Dog”!(google it and click on images :))
Either way this quick bread has morphed from a three ingredient yawn to a flavorful and hearty bread that has sustained generations of Irish (and Americans, alike.) Before I lose you all by going on and on with my deep dive discoveries regarding the history of Irish Soda bread or Spotted Dog, as it were, I’ll stop and allow you to explore on your own by clicking here.
There’s Beer in my Soda Bread!
OK, so this Vegan Irish Soda Bread is a few deviations from the original, but I maintain that it embodies the spirit of it’s patriarchal creators. There’s flour, baking soda, and milk (albeit non-dairy) and the raisins and caraway seeds included American and modern-day Irish versions. I took the liberty of using Guinness to plump the raisins rather than hot water or juice. Why? Well, I thought it would be fun, that it would impart a certain heartiness (it did), and I could drink the second half of the bottle whilst the bread was baking. WIN-WIN! I omitted the butter and switched up half the flour with whole wheat flour, again to add a nutty heartiness as well as improving the nutritional impact.
The basic ingredients:
Add the raisins to the dry ingredients first to coat the raisins and keep them from sinking to the bottom. Then add the soy milk and gently mix until just blended. This keeps the bread from becoming too chewy.
Spread the dough in the prepared pie plate, bake, cool and enjoy.
If you try this (and I sure hope you do) hit me, tag me, let me know what you think 🙂