Tuesday, January 10, 2012

on trying: old-fashioned, no yeast soda bread

I ran out of yeast some time ago, and still haven't been to the shops, so there's still no yeast lurking here, which has me trying out various quick breads and yeast-less recipes. I came across this old Irish soda bread in a couple places online and in the cookbook How to Cook Everything. I think it was actually invented when there was a shortage of yeast or when that product became too expensive. There's a brilliant concept to this humble bread: the fizzy chemical reaction that takes place when mixing baking soda and vinegar actually serves to help the bread rise. This, by the way, is the same reaction I take advantage of while scrubbing the kitchen sink!

My first loaf came out looking...well...let's just call it rustic, shall we? Here's a shot of its good side:

(Okay, it really doesn't have a good side).

I still have much to learn about making bread, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Even the worst looking bread tends to taste just fine, and if all else fails, it can always be made into breadcrumbs!

Here's what I did, based on a general idea/mishmash of recipes, in case you want to give it a try:

~makes 1 round loaf

4 Cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 Cups whole milk, warmed
1 1/2 Tablespoons raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1. Combine milk and vinegar. Set aside a few minutes
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients 
3. Add the milk mixture a little at a time, until the dough comes together, but isn't too sticky. You may not need all of it (my leftovers went to the chickens!)  
4. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it's elastic and somewhat smooth, but resist over-kneading. Shape into a round loaf and make an "X" on top using a sharp knife
5. Bake at 375 degrees F on a warmed pizza/baking stone for 45 minutes. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped 
6. Cool completely before slicing

We enjoyed wedges of this bread toasted in the oven, drizzled with a little olive oil and rubbed with a garlic clove, eaten alongside spaghetti.

Looks better this way, right?

Are you trying new (old) things this new year, too?


  1. The best bread IS rustic...the reason it always looks so perfect in stores is because it's made by machines with lots of gross stuff in it. Yours made my stomach growl!! Success, I'd say!

  2. I love homemade bread - it's the best! Especially when enjoyed with homemade soup...

  3. I think your rustic loaf is lovely. As my art teacher says, it shows the humanity in it. Plus I bet it tasted wonderful!

  4. You call it rustic looking....I call it seasoned with love. It looks delicious to me.

  5. Oh, I think the bread is pretty!

    I used to make a chocolate cake from Molly Katzen that used no eggs, but a baking-soda-and-vinegar reaction to leaven it.

    It was a neat recipe. Since it was chocolate, you could see the bubbles fizzing up. Now that I think about it, I should dig the recipe up and make it with my kids...half science project/half dessert.

    Ah! Your blog is so lovely, Jaime.

  6. I think your bread is lovely and paired with the spaghetti and meatballs, YUMMY! Did you bake it on a stone?
    I used to make a chocolate cake like Jeannine's for my ex who is allergic to eggs.

  7. I'm sorry, but your food photography makes me want to hop on a plane so I can join you for dinner! Is there an extra spot at your table? I'll bring yeast from NY. Or not. You seem to be doing just fine without it...

  8. I think your bread looks how it should do. Beautifully homemade. Funny I should read this because I've just bought some raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar because I was told it was good for gargling sore throats? Did you know about that? Anyway, the sore throat went away and it's still sitting in the cupboard waiting for me to do something with it. So I might just get to work on some soda bread! Is baking soda the same as bicarb of soda? x

  9. I love the look of your rustic loaf.
    My mother inlaw makes the nicest bread out of plain old self raising flour and water...it sounds so simple but I have tried to make it myself and it's been awful.

  10. This was one of the first things i recall making in Home Economics at school! Yours looks great...the best bread is a little rustic i think...thanks for sharing the recipe and your lovely pics!

  11. Your bread looks rustic, lovely and delish!

  12. I think the rustic-ness of your bread makes it that much better! I love all the little imperfections that happen when we make things from scratch/by hand! I think your loaf is gorgeous!

  13. Oh goodness, how sweet you all are! The look of it actually grew on me as the day progressed. It is very tasty, by the way, definitely a keeper :)

    Jeannine, chocolate science sounds fantastic!

    Candy, yep, I did!

    Sophie, you are always welcome. Please bring me some cheese from your incredible winter farmer's market ;)

  14. Vanessa, yes baking soda and bicarb of soda are the same thing as far as I know. I've heard that apple cider vinegar is good for so many things in addition to cooking! I actually use it as a hair conditioner, too (about 8-10 parts water to 1 part vinegar).

  15. dear jaime,
    your bread looks so good.i bake sometimes a bread that called cottage-bread look like yours.
    have a wonderful day,
    love regina

  16. I can never have too many bread recipes.

    Baking soda and vinegar are so tremendous in so many difference capacities, both when combined and on their own.

  17. I don't know if anyone else asked this, but I am gluten free and was wondering if this could be made with oat flour? I love bread and really miss it.

  18. Hi Kris, I wish I had more baking experience so I could say for sure, but it seems like that could work. Some of the recipes I read said not to bother kneading the dough at all, so I'm assuming that's because it isn't all that important to develop the gluten in this bread. Making it with oat flour might give it a more crumbly texture, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, since quick breads tend to be a bit heavy and dense! I also wonder if you might want to increase the liquid a bit to help the dough stick together and prevent the dryness that gluten-free flours sometimes give. Also, I would probably bake it in a round oven-proof bowl so it keeps shape. Can't hurt to try it with the oat flour, I'd say! Let us know how it turns out if you do....

  19. @BLD in MT They're a match made in heaven, aren't they? ;)

  20. Hi Jaime! I love soda bread too. It's so easy to make. Yours looks really delicious.


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