Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Vegan Soda Bread

I think one of my most exciting culinary discoveries since moving to Northern Ireland has been finding buttermilk available everywhere (small things and all that). A simple enough ingredient but one that I always found difficult to get my hands on back in England. And there are a surprising amount of recipes that call for buttermilk as an ingredient, including numerous cake and pancake recipes, that I have always been keen to try out. And the lack of buttermilk in my local supermarket no longer stands in the way of me producing such baked goods.

The prevelance of buttermilk over here is probably due to the fact that it provides the main ingredient in two of the country’s staples…soda bread and wheaten bread. Neither of these breads contain yeast and do not require time to rise so are really quick and easy to make.

After searching around for recipes to use up some of the local buttermilk mountain that is crying to be consumed I have regularly started baking Nigel Slater’s soda bread producing great results.  But whilst I’m loving being able to easily add buttermilk to everything I produce in my kitchen I’ve realised that anyone with a dairy intolerance, or who follows a vegan lifestyle isn’t able to induldge in these calssic Irish breads. So I set out to make a vegan soda bread, based on the recipe by Nigel Slater which I have been following so far. And whilst there are numerous non-dairy milk alternatives available to substitute the buttermilk with I decided to try something a little bit different and used tofu instead! As crazy as this may sound I was rather pleased with the results and I no longer have to panic when I’m craving soda bread and can’t find that sometimes elusive buttermilk (presuming I can lay my hands on some tofu that is!!).


150g silken tofu
200ml warm water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
225g wholemeal flour
225g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Set the oven to 220 deg C/430 deg F

Place a medium sized casserole dish with its lid on into the oven to warm up.

Break the tofu into small chunks and place into a liquidiser with the warm water and lemon juice. Blitz until a smooth, thick liquid is produced.

Place all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine together using your fingers.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the tofu mixture. Then use your fingers to draw the dry and wet ingredients together. Continue to work together until all of the ingredients are well combined and then shape the dough into a thick round disk about 25 cm in diameter.

Remove the casserole dish from the over, remove the lid and dust the inside with a little plain flour. Then carefully lower the dough disk into the dish, replace the lid and return to the oven.

Leave for 25 minutes until the loaf has risen and has a crips, golden crust.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven but leave the bread inside for a further 5-10 minutes before removing from the dish and allowing to cool on a wire cooling rack. But don’t allow to cool completely before tucking in because as Nigel Slater explains soda bread is best eaten warm’.

Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater’s soda bread recipe.

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