Vegan Irish Soda bread is a tasty rustic, no-yeast and no-knead bread that is super quick and easy. A fresh baked whole wheat loaf can be ready in just an hour. A slice or wedge of this wholesome wheaten bread is perfect for mopping up tasty soups and stews. Our traditional soda bread recipe is prepared with whole-wheat or wholemeal flour, is a no-oil and no-sugar soda bread, and uses just 5 simple ingredients along with a rolled oat topping!
Wholemeal Irish Soda Bread is a powerhouse packed full of plant-based nutrition and is a great source of fiber and protein. It's also incredibly tasty especially toasted and spread with some plant-based butter or margarine and topped with a scoop of baked beans. Classic but so delicious!
History of Irish soda bread
Irish soda bread, a simple yet hearty rustic bread, can be traced back to 19th century Ireland. When prepared with whole wheat or wholemeal flour, it's often referred to as Irish wheaten bread. Soda bread became popular during the 1800s, with the invention of bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda.
However, the concept of soda bread isn't exclusively Irish as Native Americans, long before the Irish adopted the method, utilized the ash produced from burning wood, known as pearl ash, as a natural leavening agent for their bread.
The Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852 was a tragic period in Ireland's history. During this time, soda bread grew in importance as a staple, primarily due to its simple and inexpensive ingredients: flour, bicarbonate of soda, buttermilk, and salt.
Today, the charm of Irish soda bread has crossed borders and oceans and is now a global favourite. It is especially loved during St. Patrick's Day celebrations on the 17th of March, but its appeal is year-round as its such a budget-friendly, easy and quick bread to bake at home.
One distinctive feature of soda bread is the deep cross etched into its rustic looking surface. This cross is more than just a mark; it symbolizes the blessing of the bread. Steeped in Irish lore, this tradition is believed to have been followed for generations. Moreover, small scores made on each of the bread's quarters are said to allow evil spirits, the devil, or even mischievous fairies to escape from the dough, ensuring a blessed and benevolent bake!
For more information about Irish soda bread visit the website The Society for The Preservation of Soda Bread.
Vegan Irish Soda Bread
Our family lived in Northern Ireland for many years, and two of our children were born on the beautiful Emerald Isle, so we have experienced lots of delicious Irish baked bread. While there's something truly special about Irish soda bread baked in its homeland, our recipe offers a tasty vegan version that is similar to the original.
After moving back to Scotland, we discovered that authentic soda bread was not readily available in most supermarkets and shops, so baking home-made soda bread was a necessity.
The Society for the Preservation of Soda Bread maintains that a genuine Irish soda bread requires only four traditional ingredients: flour, buttermilk, salt, and baking soda.
In our vegan Irish soda bread, we wanted it to be as authentic as possible, so to mimic the tangy acidity of buttermilk, we use apple cider vinegar [or lemon juice] to curdle plant-based milk. This acidity is vital as it reacts with the bicarbonate of soda, resulting in a beautifully risen, rustic loaf.
Opting for strong whole-wheat bread flour gives the bread a crusty exterior and a nutty flavour. The outcome is a homely bread that's hearty and satisfying, both in its dark, farmhouse-style appearance and its pleasantly chewy texture.
However, the best thing about our Irish soda bread is the amazing aroma it emits when baking or toasting, its just so good! We know you will love it to!
How to prepare Irish soda bread
You'll only need 6 ingredients for this easy soda bread recipe - plant-based milk, apple cider vinegar [or lemon juice], whole-wheat flour or wholemeal bread flour, bicarbonate of soda [baking soda], salt, and some rolled oats for sprinkling over the bread before baking.
First, prepare the vegan buttermilk by mixing plant-based milk [such as soya, oat or almond milk] with either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Leave to curdle for at least 15-20 minutes.
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt together.
Slowly add the vegan buttermilk until a ball of workable bread dough comes together.
Press the bread dough into a one and a half - two inch high round shape.
Transfer to a baking tray.
Using a knife or dough cutter score a deep cross across the dough surface, about half way down.
Also make a little mark on each quarter to release any fairies!
Brush the top with the remaining buttermilk and scatter rolled oats across the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
The soda bread will be golden brown and firm when baked, and will sound hollow when the bottom is tapped.
Cool on the baking pan or transfer to a wire rack.
Once cool the Irish soda bread is ready to slice or pull apart into wedges.
Recipe notes and FAQ's
Store soda bread wrapped in kitchen paper, kitchen foil, within a bread bag, or wrapped in a clean tea towel. Place in a bread bin or keep somewhere cool and dry.
Irish soda bread is at its best eaten 1-2 days after baking, but older soda bread 3-4 days after baking can still be eaten but will be better toasted.
Soda bread is perfect for freezing. Simply wrap well in a freezer-proof wrap and store for 3-4 months. Place a piece of kitchen paper between slices so that it is easy to pull out a few slices at a time. Or wrap the entire loaf to freeze. We often use half a soda bread loaf as an accompaniment to a soup or stew and then freeze the other half for a future meal.
Older slices of soda bread or day old soda bread is so delicious toasted and spread with some plant-based butter or margarine. Depending on the sizes of your soda bread slices you can toast using a toaster machine, a panini hotplate or similar, under a grill or broiler, or in a dry fry pan or skillet. Toast each side.
You can pop a wedge of soda bread into a warm oven to freshen up and warm through, if you would like some warm soda bread to dunk in a soup or stew.
The traditional method of dividing up soda bread for serving is to pull apart each quartered wedge.
However trying to eat a large wedge is quite filling. But not impossible as my son usually manages!
Slice the soda bread into four sections and then slice each quarter into four more.
Each slice will not be completely equal but you should be able to get 12-16 slices.
There are a few things that you can do to make good use of stale soda bread. Here are a few ideas:
1. Reheat in a warm oven for a few minutes to refresh
2. Toast and spread with vegan butter or margarine
3. Place the soda bread into a food processer and whizz until breadcrumbs form. Either use the breadcrumbs right away or freeze until required. Frozen breadcrumbs thaw out very quickly. Alternatively, sometimes we use a cheese grater to grate stale bread by hand, it does work and if you get any larger bits its just rustic breadcrumbs!
You could always use a cup of soda bread crumbs to prepare this tasty 1940s Christmas pudding or use some of the breadcrumbs with our Vegan Chickpea 'tuna' & Potato Mornay which is similar to a gratin.
* Cut the soda bread into little squares and prepare croutons. For an easy home-made crouton method have a look at our Cream of Swede Soup recipe which features home-made crispy croutons.
* Add the soda bread in little pieces to a soup bowl and pour over hot soup such as Minestrone Soup or Italian Bean and Cabbage Soup and leave to soak up the soup for a few minutes before eating the bread soup! There are a few Italian and Spanish traditional soups use this method as it makes good use of stale bread and helps thicken up soups.
* You can crumble the soda bread into any soup or stew you like and use this as a way to thicken the soup, sauce or gravy. Bread has long been used in traditional British cooking as a budget-friendly thickener.
Warm Irish Soda Bread served with delicious bowls of Vegan Irish Stew. One of our favourite budget-friendly but very wholesome easy family meals.
More vegan Irish recipes
Here are a few of our favourite Irish recipes that pair so well with home-baked wholemeal Irish soda bread. We love this staple soup Old-Fashioned Irish Potato Soup which makes good use of a bag of cheap potatoes, and this Irish Leek and Oatmeal Broth which is the perfect soup for those days when your feeling under-the-weather, and for heartier meals we love the classic Vegan Irish Stew and the less well-known but fun and rustically tasty - Vegan Irish Corned 'beef' and Cabbage Stew.
Looking for a plain soda bread? It may not be Irish but our vegan version of the delicious Australian Damper Bread is similar to a plain Irish soda bread and is also a no-knead, no-rise, no-yeast quick bread.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Irish Soda Bread (Vegan)
- Baking tray
- sharp knife
- Mixing bowl
- Pastry brush
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar [or lemon juice]
- 400 millilitres plant-based milk
- 500 grams strong wholemeal bread flour [wholewheat flour]
- 1 ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon rolled oats [porridge oats, jumbo oats or similar]
Prepare the vegan buttermilk:
- Mix the apple cider vinegar with the milk. Leave for at least 15-20 minutes. This step can be done a few hours in advance.1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 400 millilitres plant-based milk
Prepare the soda bread:
- Preheat your oven to 180 Fan, 200 Celsius, 400 Fahrenheit, Gas 6.
- Grease a baking tray with a small amount of oil or similar and dust with some flour. Alternatively place a sheet of baking paper over the tray.
- Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt together in a bowl.500 grams strong wholemeal bread flour, 1 ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- Give the vegan buttermilk a good stir. Pour the curdled milk into the flour mix, using just enough milk to bring the mix into a ball that can be shaped with flour dusted hands and is not too sticky. Don't pour it all in at once as there is usually some buttermilk left.
- Place your dough onto a floured work surface.Don't knead the dough too much as it will overwork it.Just bring it together and pat with your hands into a circle shape about 1 ½-2 inch high.
- Add extra flour if your dough is too sticky to work with or add extra milk if your dough is too dry to form into a dough. Simply wet your hands with leftover buttermilk and pat onto your dough to fix any dry cracks.
- Place the formed dough onto the baking tray.
- Score a cross through the bread to about ½ of the way down. Using a knife add a small slit at each corner or wedge (to release any fairies/pixies!)
- Brush the top with buttermilk. If you have used all your buttermilk brush with some extra milk.
- Scatter the rolled oats over the unbaked bread.1 tablespoon rolled oats
- Bake on the middle shelf for 30-35 minutes until nicely golden brown, risen, and firm to the touch. Exact times will depend on your oven. Carefully turn your bread over and tap its underside. If it sounds hollow its ready.We used a fan oven and our soda bread was ready just after the 30 minute mark.
- Transfer the bread to a cooling rack or leave on the baking tray to cool.
- If the bread is cut whilst still very hot it will look quite dense and moist inside so its best to wait until its cooler to slice. Although it will still be delicious if you can't wait.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict analysis as ingredients vary.
- Soda bread will keep fresh for 2-3 days, but older soda bread 3-4 days old can still be enjoyed toasted or refreshed in the oven.
- Store soda bread wrapped in kitchen parchment or kitchen foil, within a bread bag, and place in a bread bin or similar.
- Alternatively go the traditional route and wrap in a clean tea towel and keep in a bread bin or somewhere cool and dry.
- Freeze soda bread, well wrapped, for 3-4 months. Add small piece of kitchen paper between individual slices for easy removal of a few slices at a time.
- Soda bread is best enjoyed soon after baking, but older slices are amazing toasted or reheat in a warm oven for a few minutes to refresh.
- Toasted soda bread with baked beans served over and a little nutritional yeast flakes or grated vegan cheese, makes for a hearty lunch or lighter dinner.
- Enjoy a wedge of soda bread with your favourite soup or stew, or as an accompaniment to a salad bowl.
- Soda bread can be either sliced into portions or go rustic and pull apart wedges!
Prepared our Vegan Irish Soda Bread? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe so do pop back and drop us a comment below and click the star ratings. Its very much appreciated. Thanks so much, Jacq x