Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread

With autumn-like chill we’ve had in Wisconsin recently, I’ve been in a baking mood.  Not that I have time to bake every day (I wish!), but just in the mood to have warm things come out of the oven and scent the whole house with their baked goodness.  This past weekend, I actually had some time to indulge my baking whims, and made pumpkin bread, focaccia with fresh rosemary, and this awesome Irish Soda Bread.  I used to make the original recipe of this bread all the time before Sweet Pea was diagnosed with her dairy allergy.  It was my go-to bread for soups, stews, and dinner parties where I was assigned to bring bread.  I even taught my father-in-law to make it at Thanksgiving one year!  But since it contained buttermilk and butter, I have shied away for many months.

Now that I’m getting more brave in my dairy-free cooking attempts, I thought I’d take a stab at one of our favorites.  The verdict?  A resounding success!  Tom even said that he likes this version better than the original version.  It’s a little bit more crumbly than the original and slightly denser, but overall it’s a great bread to go with anything.  Don’t be fooled by the raisins…this really isn’t a sweet bread.  It’s the perfect balance of savory and sweet.  Plus, you go from flour in a canister to hot bread on the table in an hour!  How cool is that?  I paired it with my Apple Chicken Stew this weekend, but it’s also great with beef stew, chicken soup, or pretty much anything else that needs a good bread to dunk in and sop up the juices.  What?  You’re not a dunker?  Shame on you.

Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread

1 Tbsp. apple cider or white vinegar

1 1/2 c. plus 3 Tbsp. soy milk (I used Silk Organic Unsweetened)

4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. cold dairy-free margarine (I used Earth Balance)

1 c. golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a glass measuring cup, combine vinegar and soy milk.  Set aside while you mix the other ingredients (Yes, it will curdle slightly.  Get over it.).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  With pastry cutter, cut in margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add raisins and stir to combine.  Pour in soy milk mixture, and stir until the dough starts to come together.  Do not over mix!

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 6-8 times until dough forms a ball.  This dough will be slightly crumbly; just take the crumbs and put them on the inside of the loaf as you knead.  Don’t knead too much in hopes of getting all the crumbs incorporated–it won’t happen!  You’ll just end up with a dense ball o’ bread.  Shape the dough into a round loaf and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Pat into a 7-inch circle.  With a sharp knife, score the top of the loaf with an “x” to allow for expansion.  Bake bread for 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is golden brown.  Remove from baking sheet immediately and cool on a wire rack.

This bread keeps well for several days in an airtight plastic zipper bag.  It slices well and makes great toast with jam the next morning!

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