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Traditional Vegan Irish Soda Bread

This traditional-style savory vegan wholewheat soda bread is definitely as tasty as real Irish soda bread from back home is easy to make, and needs no rising time. Just savory crusty yeast-free goodness.

Soda bread with a cross cut in it in a metal tray.

Why you’ll love it

  • It’s thick and filling and hearty.
  • It’s savory with that classic soda flavor.
  • It’s vegan and dairy-free.
  • It needs no rising time and minimal kneading.
  • It’s as close to traditional Irish soda bread as a vegan version can be!

But, where are the raisins?

Did you know, in Ireland nowadays, soda bread is not usually eaten sweetened or with raisins. I had to do a bit of unofficial research to figure out why versions in America so often have raisins.

Turns out that people in their 60s can remember that their mothers or grandmothers used to add raisins or currants as a treat sometimes. It was then called “currn’y” or “currant” bread. It was something that Irish immigrants brought to the US, but it has long been out of fashion back home.

If you love Irish bread, you should try out this delicious tomato bread, based on a version we used to have in Superquinn (an Irish supermarket).

Ingredients and substitutions

The ingredients are pretty simple so there are not too many substitutions that can be made, but I do detail them below.

Wholewheat flour: I’ve used spelt and coarse wholemeal flour instead of wholewheat and it’s turned out great. You can also just use all white or strong bread flour. If you can get it, Odlums coarse wholemeal is great here.

Baking soda: Also known as bicarbonate of soda, don’t substitute with baking powder as the soda actually gives a lot of the taste that makes this soda bread. Make sure to use fresh recently opened baking soda and not a tub that’s been languishing in your cupboards for a year, or it won’t activate.

Lemon juice: You can substitute this with the same amount of mild vinegar, like ACV, white wine vinegar, etc. Its only purpose is to curdle the plant-based milk for vegan buttermilk, it doesn’t change the flavor.

All-purpose flour: You do need to use white all-purpose flour in soda bread or it will be very crumbly and not hold together, as I’ve found out many a time when using only wholemeal or wholegrain flour.

Olive oil: You can use any mild oil here, it’s to replace the fat used in non-vegan versions that gives a softer crumb. It’s not supposed to add much flavor so don’t break out the extra virgin good stuff, keep that for your salads.

Soy milk: You can use any plant-based full-fat unsweetened milk you prefer here, but I do tend to think that when baking vegan recipes, soy gives a softer result.

Salt: Don’t omit this, you can use a low-sodium brand if you’re watching your sodium levels.

Oat bran: Real wholemeal Irish soda bread is made with stoneground flour which has a delicious texture, and oats are often added. Using oat bran gives you all that flavor and texture while keeping the dough light and helping it rise better in the oven. Plus, oat bran is incredibly healthy and filling.

How to make it

This recipe is so easy even a baking beginner can make it. Nevertheless, I’ve included detailed process photos below showing every step in case you are unsure about anything.

First, preheat the oven to 410ºF (210ºC). If you have a fan-assisted oven and are using the fan-assisted setting, preheat to 375ºF (190ºC).

Mix the milk you’re using with the lemon juice (or vinegar) and leave it on the counter or in a warm place (image one below). The milk will curdle faster and easier if you start with it at room temperature.

Add the dry ingredients (the flours, the oat bran, the salt, and the baking soda) to a large bowl and mix until well-combined. Make a well in the center, and add in the oil (image two below).

Four image collage showing mixing bread ingredients and adding oil.

Mix the olive oil in as well as you can with a wooden spoon. Next, get your hands in and rub the larger lumps into the rest of the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs (image three above).

Get the spoon again and make a well in the center (image four).

Add the curdled soy milk to the well (image five), and mix it in with the wooden spoon. Make sure to really scrape the bottom of the bowl to get any remnants of flour, but mix until the dough just barely comes together.

Overmixing your soda bread dough will result in tougher bread. The dough will be sticky and look like image six below.

Four images showing mixing up dough and tipping it out.

Line a metal baking tray with baking paper or a silicone nonstick mat. Tip out the dough onto the lined tray and sprinkle with a little extra wholewheat flour as in image seven (this will make it more manageable to handle).

Use your hands to shape the dough into a rough ball, using more flour if needed. It should look something like image eight above.

Now, flatten the ball slightly using your hands (image nine below). You’ll want it to be between two to three inches in height. Any more and it may not rise properly.

Dampen a sharp knife and cut a deep cross in the round of dough (image ten below). Wholewheat quick bread needs more help to rise during baking and cutting a deep cross helps. You should nearly be cutting through to the tray.

Cutting dough, baking it and cooling it.

Transfer the tray to the lower third of your preheated oven and bake for thirty-five minutes without opening the oven.

When the time is up, remove the soda bread and rap the bottom of it with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it’s done. If not, you may need to return it to the oven for another five minutes or so. It should look more or less like image eleven above.

Lightly dampen a clean dishcloth or tea towel and cover the bread with it (image twelve above) – this keeps the crust softer and easier to cut. Let the soda bread cool completely before cutting it as it will be too soft and crumbly while warm.

Once cooled, use a bread knife to separate the quarters, and then cut the quarters into thick slices if eating right away. This soda bread can be stored on the counter covered for a day, or in the fridge tightly covered (with saran wrap or aluminum foil) for up to five days.

I prefer to store it in the fridge unsliced and just slice each quarter as I need it, to stop the bread from drying out in the fridge.

Serving tips and suggestions

  • Soda bread should be sliced as thinly as possible, but slices will need to be at least a centimeter thick or they will be too crumbly.
  • Soda bread is easier to slice when it has fully cooled, and easiest of all the next day.
  • It’s perfect for slathering plant-based spread on and dipping in soup, such as my roasted red pepper bisque or this easy gluten-free vegan tomato soup.
  • It is also great for open-top sandwiches or slathered with hummus.
  • If after a few days you still have some soda bread left, which I doubt, and it is a little hard, it will toast perfectly. Just toast it under the grill, not in the toaster, or you will be fishing out broken soda bread pieces for days.

Do let me know if you enjoyed my vegan Irish soda bread recipe and what you did with it, or whether you made any changes to the recipe.

Take a picture and tag me on Instagram @the_fiery_vegetarian, or leave a starred review in the recipe box and a comment to let me know how you got on.

Yield: 8 servings

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

Soda bread with a cross cut in it in a metal tray.

Crusty fresh vegan Irish brown soda bread with the unmistakable rustic flavor that comes about when baking with bicarbonate of soda instead of yeast, you would be hard-pressed to distinguish between regular soda bread and this vegan version.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ plus 1 Tablespoon soy milk (11.5 fl. oz/340ml)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 ½ cups wholemeal flour (300g), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour (200g)
  • 1 cup oat bran (100g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil (60ml)

Instructions

  1. First, preheat the oven to 410ºF (210ºC).
  2. Combine the soy milk with the lemon juice and let stand in a warm place (on the counter or next to the oven). Room temperature milk is best for this.
  3. Combine the flours, salt, oat bran, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. 
  4. Make a well and add the olive oil. Mix first with a spoon and then rub the oil in with your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  5. Make another well and add the curdled milk. Mix in with a spoon until just combined. The dough will be very sticky.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a baking paper or silicone mat-lined tray. Sprinkle with more wholemeal flour and shape into a rough ball. Slightly flatten to 2-3inches in height, and cut a deep cross with a sharp dampened knife.
  7. Put the soda bread in the oven and set a timer for 35 minutes. At 35 minutes remove it and rap the bottom with your knuckles. If hollow, it's done. If not return to the oven for five-minute increments until done.
  8. Remove to cool on a wire rack and cover with a slightly damp clean cloth or tea towel. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Divide into quarters and then thickly slice the quarters.
  9. Enjoy!

Notes

Do NOT slice your bread before it's cool as it won't be fully cooked until then.

If you don't wish to use soy milk you can use any other plant-based milk but I find that the bread is softer when I use soy milk.

Use regular grade olive oil, not extra virgin, or substitute for any other oil of choice or melted plant-based spread.

Store your bread with the quarters tightly wrapped in saran wrap or aluminum foil in the fridge for up to five days.

This bread is much easier to slice the day after baking but may dry out slightly in the fridge, toasting it will bring it back to life.

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

3

Amount Per Serving Calories 295Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 293mgCarbohydrates 50gFiber 5gSugar 0gProtein 9g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Ann Saunders

Saturday 20th of March 2021

What gluten free flours would work best for this recipe please

Deirdre Gilna

Saturday 20th of March 2021

I don't do a huge amount of gluten-free baking but for soda bread I would either use my favorite gluten-free flour (Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1) or any high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. In theory I think a mix of oat and rye flour would also taste good but the results would be a bit dense. Hope this is of help!

Imogene Kluson

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

This is a delicious bread! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

David Reeve

Wednesday 28th of October 2020

I've made several soda bread recipes before this but I'm now sticking with this recipe, partly because it's Vegan but also because it makes a great Bread. Thanks for putting this recipe together!

The Fiery Vegetarian

Thursday 29th of October 2020

Brilliant, so glad you enjoyed it David and thanks for stopping by to leave a comment!

CJ

Friday 16th of October 2020

Hi, I love this vegan option! I have made it a few times, and the centre is doughy.... Any tips to avoid this? I've changed to a glass tray, which really helped but still can't nail the doughiness!

The Fiery Vegetarian

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Hmmm that's odd but usually if the bread is doughy in the middle it's due to one of three things - flour measurement issue, oven temperature issue or cutting bread before it's cool. Are you weighing your ingredients or using cups? Cups can really have big differences depending on whether they're scooped poured levelled etc. so the first thing I would suggest is weighing with a kitchen scale. The second issue could be your oven running slightly cold, you could try increasing the temperature 10 degrees, and make sure to knock on the bottom of the bread when you remove it and that it sounds hollow, otherwise return to the oven for ten more minutes. The last issue is the easiest to solve which is just don't cut it until it's completely cool. As this is soda bread, I also have to ask if you are cutting the cross deep enough, as its purpose is to help the bread rise and cook more evenly. Let me know if any of these tips work for you! Also if you find any quickbread is undercooked you can return it to the oven for 10-20 minutes to "fix" it (even if it has been cut).

Ah and the most important thing with soda bread, make sure the cross is cut deeply, nearly all the way through!

Conor

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Hi, I love this recipe, I've made 1 nice loaf so far and one massive mistake when I misread 'teaspoon' and 'tablespoon' abreviations for the salt, woops! Is there a way to sweeten it a fraction? I used Soya milk and khorasan flour for the wholemeal. Do you also have more vegan bread recipes? My dream is to be able to make good vegan doughnuts like Crosstown. Thanks.

The Fiery Vegetarian

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Hey Conor! Oh no, I hate when all your hard-earned efforts can be wrecked by measurement mistakes! I once made it with sweetened soya milk by accident - it was NOT good. If you'd like it a little sweeter by all means you can experiment by adding sugar, I'd say just a teaspoon to start and increase it each time to your liking, just remember that this is a savoury bread recipe, there are some sweeter ones out there with raisins etc. in them. I do have several more vegan bread recipes, you can check them out here: https://www.thefieryvegetarian.com/category/breads/

Thanks for stopping by, so happy you love the recipe!

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