Vegan Apple and Walnut Soda Bread
This Apple and Walnut Soda Bread is not only quick and easy to bake but also super versatile. Delicious with salted butter, a wedge of cheese or dipped in soup. Get the recipe below.
The secret to soda bread
I was so pleased when I found that soda bread was going to make an appearance on Great British Bake Off last week. I often find myself shouting at the TV on bread week because they never give the contestants long enough to bake their loaves, then complain when they are under proved or under baked. The beauty of soda bread however is that it is super quick and easy to make – making it perfect for a fast paced baking competition!
So why is soda bread so quick and easy? Instead of being made with yeast, soda bread gets its rise from baking soda. Hence the name! Because there’s no yeast, there’s no kneading either. Nor do you have to sit around and wait for the bread to prove. In fact, the chemical reaction that causes soda bread to rise happens so quickly that you don’t want to hang about. Once you’ve mixed your ingredients together you want to shape your loaf and get it in the oven as soon as possible.
Although soda bread was traditionally something enjoyed by the poorer classes, it wouldn’t be the Great British Bake Off if the contestants didn’t add their own flavours to the classic dough. In last week’s episode there were some rather extravagant flavour combinations but I didn’t want to be too over the top with my twist on the classic recipe. I had a few windfall apples – the last from my tree – that I wanted to add to the dough. I peeled and diced them so that they would be juicy little bursts of flavour throughout the bread. I then added some walnuts for extra crunch.
I use a mix of plain white flour and wholemeal flour. I like to use a combination of the two because wholemeal flour is both more traditional and gives a better flavour. That being said, plain white flour makes the dough lighter. Some recipes call for oats to be added to the dough but I like to use them to stop the bread sticking to my baking tray and as a sprinkling on top for extra texture.
Buttermilk is the traditional liquid used to make soda bread but as I’m making a vegan version of soda bread I had to get more creative. These days the buttermilk you buy in the dairy aisle of a supermarket is milk that has been soured and thickened (rather than actually the liquid that is leftover from making butter). You can make a plant based buttermilk substitute by adding either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a plant milk of your choosing – though I find soy milk or oat milk work best.
The trick with soda bread is not to overwork the dough otherwise it ends up tough. Although legends say the cross down the centre is to let the fairies out, it actually makes sure that the loaf bakes evenly. Flipping the loaf towards the end of the bake seems to be a throw back from when bread was baked in wood fired ovens but I’m happy to keep the step in if it’s traditional. Last but not least, letting the loaf cool down under a tea towel means that you retain the crust but it stays soft enough to slice through with relative ease. (Of course you could just break the loaf into 4 pieces instead!)
Vegan Apple and Walnut Soda Bread
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.
- Add the lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) to the plant milk and place to one side.
- Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl with the bicarbonate soda and salt.
- Add the diced apple and walnut pieces and toss them in the flour to ensure they are evenly distributed and coated in the flour.
- Slowly pour in the milk and bring the ingredients together into a rough dough - it shouldn't be too sticky or wet so don't add the liquids all at once.
- Lightly flour a baking tray and sprinkle over half of the oats.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and share it into a neat round boule roughly 18-20cm in diameter.
- Place it onto the baking tray and make a cross in the top of the loaf and sprinkle over the remaining oats.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes then turn the bread upside down and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Leave the bread to cool on a wire rack covered in a clean tea towel.
Why not serve with one of these tasty soups: