Did you know that St. Patrick was vegan? We’ve all heard how he banished snakes from Ireland. Yet few people know that he did so in order to keep them out of harm’s way, which is to say far from the Irish, who were prone to cooking them in stews in order to bulk out the meat content in lean years.
The above may or may not be correct; indeed I would be surprised if it were true, having just invented all of facts on which it is based. But that shouldn’t distract from more pressing matters: how do I fill my house with smells of soda bread without bothering a cow?
There’s a basic recipe for vegan soda bread floating around various sites. I inadvertently adapted it last week while baking in an absent minded fashion. (That’s why I bake but don’t drive: it’s a rare day when absent-mindedness leads to an improvement in driving skills.)
2 cups soy milk/rice milk/whatever vegan milk type product you have
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I suspect any vinegar would do the trick)
4 cups wholewheat flour, or any combination of white flour and wholewheat
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Heat your oven to 220°C. Have your baking tray heating too.
Add the vinegar to the milk, stir, and leave it for at least a couple of minutes. (You want to sour the milk to recreate the effect of buttermilk – it’s science)
Put the flour into a large bowl with the other dry ingredients. Mix well.
Slowly add most of the soured milk until you have a soft dough. If it’s sticky, throw in some more flour. If it’s dry, add the rest of the milk. Knead it very briefly into a circle.
Carefully grease or flour your heated baking tray, pop the dough on and score a 1cm deep cross on top with a knife. Bake for around 35 mins. Check if it’s done by sticking a skewer, a knife, or — as we used to do at home — a knitting needle into the centre. If it comes out with bits of dough stuck to it, it’s not done; put it back in for another while. Still wringing your hands in indecision? Flip the bread over and knock on the underside. If it sounds hollow, it’s done.