Heavy, dense, tasteless, dry. Often these are words used to describe the brick-of-a-loaf also known as Irish soda bread. Its bad rap had me wary but I overcame it when I saw Buff Chickpea’s lovely looking loaf. The fact that it looked like a perfect vehicle for butter had me sold.
This bread is a quick bread, meaning there’s no yeast to bother with. It’s a snap to put together…if you can make a biscuit or a scone, this is no different. Plus, there are no eggs, so if you sub in the required non-dairies, you’ve got a great vegan bread. Normally, Irish soda bread is made with caraway seeds, but I didn’t have any on hand and decided to try fennel seeds instead. Definitely, a great choice. Along with the cinnamon, it made the bread super flavourful and definitely not bland or boring.
It is a dense bread, but I didn’t mind that one bit, and I definitely did not find this bread too dry. It was great smeared with cold butter the same day and it was even more wonderful toasted the following day. A dab of blackberry jam and a strong cup of coffee, this bread made for a filling breakfast. I don’t think I’ll have to wait for next St. Patrick’s day to make this again.
irish soda bread with fennel & cinnamon(adapted from Buff Chickpea)
1 c vanilla yogurt
1/3 c skim milk
1/3 c apple-cider vinegar
1 t vanilla
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
2 1/2 t kosher salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
4 T cold butter, cut into bits
1 c wheat bran
2 T fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, milk, vanilla and apple cider and set aside to thicken. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add cold butter into the flour and use your hands to break it up until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With a wooden spoon, stir in wheat bran, fennel, cinnamon, and dried fruit.
Pour in milk/yogurt mixture and stir until the mixture starts to hold together into a ball. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Pat into a dome-shaped lump and place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silpat. Sprinkle some flour on top and cut a cross into the loaf. Bake for about 1 hour or so, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. This is best eaten the same day…or toasted the next day.