March 30, 2019

Irish Soda Bread

Lately I've been making the bread with hemp hearts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. Hemp hearts lighten up the loaf and adds a creamy nuttiness, and the chia seeds add a magical light crunch that is very satisfying.
A very delicious and yet wholesome bread. Dense, yet soft, with just the right amount of moisture. I used to make this all the time when we lived in Oregon, but I lost the recipe in the move. It's taken a while to adapt something that is closer to what we enjoy.

This recipe is easily doubled to make two large loaves.

I usually include seeds or nuts like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts, chia seeds, pepitas, or hemp hearts. I would definitely substitute ground flax seeds for rolled oats, if our kiddo wasn't allergic to flax.

*Notes on substitutions are included at the end.

This has been published on both my diet/exercise and gardening blogs.

Irish Soda Bread
Makes: 1 large round loaf, or 1 large bread loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes

Dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup wheat flour
3 tbsp. butter, sliced into small pieces
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup seeds or chopped nuts

Wet Ingredients:
1 large egg
1 cup milk
3/4 cup yogurt (I've used strawberry Greek yogurt which is quite lovely.)
The wet ingredients just have to equal 2 cups, if you're going to do substitutions.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or line a bread loaf pan with parchment.

2. Mix the two flours in a large bowl. Add the butter to the flours, rub the butter into the flours with your fingers until incorporated. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.

3. In a 2 cup measuring cup, add the egg, yogurt, and milk until you reach 2 cups. Mix the wet ingredients well, and then incorporate into the dry ingredients. The dough will be fairly wet.

4. If baking in a loaf pan: Using a spatula just scrape the dough into the parchment lined bread loaf pan, and smooth the surface of the dough with the spatula. Go on to step 5.

If making a round loaf: Dust the counter generously with flour, and scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula. Sprinkle wheat flour on top of the dough and with floured hands, quickly work the dough on the counter into a round. I just roll the edges of the dough under with both my hands to clean it up a bit. Place the dough on the parchment lined baking sheet. Press on x onto the top of your round loaf with a knife. It's not necessary to cut into the loaf.

5. Bake for 40 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. The loaf will be a dark golden brown and should sound hollow when you thump it. I would give it an hour before cutting into it. Great toasted and served with butter and jam, hummus and cucumbers, or with mustard and thinly sliced extra sharp cheddar.

*Notes: Baking powder can be substituted for baking soda, but you'll need to use at least twice as much. It is important to use fresh baking powder in humid environments as the humidity in the air can already have activated it somewhat, making it less potent.

Baking soda needs an acid to activate, which is why buttermilk can be substituted for the yogurt and milk. For vegans 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 3/4 cups nut milk can be substituted for the yogurt and milk.

Instead of an egg, vegans can use 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds in 1/4 cup water or 1 tbsp. chia seeds in 1/4 cup water. Although the chia seeds will need to be soaked for at least 15 minutes, including a minute of swirling now and again.

If you use sunflower seeds, they will turn a lovely dark forest green when they come into contact with different acidic and basic elements of the dough. It's a very interesting aspect of food chemistry.

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