Vegan Soda Bread (with Rosemary, Thyme, and Dates)

by Sarah on March 9, 2012 · 20 comments

Cookies haven’t been the only thing I’ve been baking in multiple batches lately.

Just as I simply had to tinker around with the formula for my near perfect vegan cookie, I couldn’t resist tinkering with the recipe I concocted for my Irish Breakfast (Soda) Bread. I decided not only to experiment with a more savoury* bread, but also to make it vegan.

*And yes, I shall continue to spell savoury with a u. It just feels more right that way.

The savoury part was easy enough: when in doubt, I season with rosemary and thyme. [And who needs a spice grinder when you've got fingers to crush the rosemary?]

The more challenging part was figuring out how to replace one of the four critical components to traditional Irish Soda Bread: buttermilk.But in the end, that wasn’t tricky at all. I just made a vegan buttermilk, taking the typically suggested substitution of adding vinegar to cow’s milk…and added vinegar to unsweetened soy milk instead.The dates? Well I don’t know where that idea came from*…but it was pure genius in the end. In fact, I even wished I’d added more.

*OK. Fine. I’m sure it was the result of the dates being already out on the counter from the sweet Irish Breakfast Soda Bread baking in the oven and me thinking, “Hmmm….what would happen if….?”You might need to add more whole wheat pastry flour to the dough after mixing. [You want it to be tacky like a teacher sweater...but not so sticky that you end up eating more dough off of your hands than ends up molded into a loaf.]The top will probably brown long before the 30-40 minutes of heat exposure has baked the bread all the way through. You can “tent” the loaf with aluminum foil, or just plop a metal bowl on top. :) Now, to be honest, I loved the sweet soda bread…but this? Well this inspired cravings unlike any other. It stayed moist and doughy longer, and the slight sweetness of the dates made for a strangely addictive pairing with the herbaciousness of the thyme and rosemary.For me, not normally a “bread person,” to eat two hunks of it for dinner and still crave another piece immediately the following morning…well, you know it has to be good.

Oh, and it has a really cute vegan bread behind, too. ;)

[I should also mention the reason there's no photograph of the whole loaf in one piece is because I was "tasting" the finished product discreetly and suddenly a huge hunk of it  had disappeared before I even knew what was happening.]

Vegan Savoury Soda Bread

(with Rosemary, Thyme, Dates)

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour, separated
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 4 dates, chopped (about 1/4 cup)–or more if you are me :)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine vinegar and soymilk in a measuring cup or small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, salt, thyme, and rosemary.
  4. Make a “well” in the center of the flour mixture and pour in soymilk/vinegar mixture (“vegan buttermilk”).
  5. Add ground flax.
  6. Stir wet and dry ingredients together until almost completely combined.
  7. Mix in chopped dates.
  8. Add extra whole wheat pastry flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time, if the dough is too sticky to form into a large round loaf. [It should be 'tacky' but not so sticky that it won't form a loaf.]
  9. Place loaf onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Score crossways along the top with a knife.
  10. Bake approximately 40 minutes, ‘tenting’ with aluminum foil (or covering with an oven-safe bowl) if the top begins to brown too quickly.
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie @ Raisins&Apples March 9, 2012 at 7:22 am

I’ll take a chunk of this, please.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

Please pass me a bunch too. A savoury chunk.

Good thing I am out of milk… this would be happening right now. Which would mean I’d eat a loaf of bread in one sitting. That’s what weekends are for… :)

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Sarah March 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

Weekends….or Thursday nights….last night I met a loaf of Wegman’s Marco Polo bread that just begged to be dipped into a spicy tomato seafood broth. [Yes, it was a vegan with benefits night.]

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Haha – I told someone yesterday that I wanted to be an opportunistic vegan.

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Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers March 9, 2012 at 8:26 am

Baking and I don’t really get along, but I think I might be able to manage this. Key word = might Wish me luck!

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Tricia @ Saving room for dessert March 9, 2012 at 8:47 am

The dates do sound great in any bread! Lovely loaf bottom – really cute and I don’t normally notice bottoms like that! Have a terrific (post free) weekend of fun!

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Kelly @foodiefresh March 9, 2012 at 9:23 am

I made the soda bread from 101 cookbooks once and I only kind of liked it and my husband didn’t like it at all. I wonder if I did something wrong or if I would like a different recipe (like yours ;) ). Maybe it’s worth another shot?

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Sarah March 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

Usually the hardest part of making a good soda bread is it drying out, I think. That’s what was pleasantly surprising with this one–it didn’t dry out too quickly. I say, give it a shot. This recipe doesn’t make a HUGE loaf, so if it is a fail, you won’t have a bunch of random bread to use up. [Although I have taken dried out sweet soda bread and pour milk on it, to eat like cereal...or instant bread pudding!]

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Katie @ Nutrition in a peanut shell March 9, 2012 at 11:05 am

This looks awesome Sarah! I love thyme + rosemary anything. My Dad makes thyme and rosemary breadsticks and I could probably eat the whole batch in one sitting

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teabagginit March 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

this savoury bread sounds scrumptious with a cuppa tea – and so full of fibre. couldn’t resist. :)

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Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free March 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm

LOVE the flavor combo of this!!

Have a fabulous weekend :D

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mrlew1 March 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Tacky like a teacher sweater? I LOVE it. We don’t really “do” the whole themed jumper (sweater) thing here in NZ, but I remember the Halloween ones vividly. Ah, the memories…(and the bread looks yummy, too).

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Baking Serendipity March 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm

As a definite bread lover, I know this would disappear fast! :) PS: I’ve never seen the oven safe bowl trick before. I love it!

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Coleen @ DNCWWO March 9, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Thanks so much for this! I’m getting together with some vegan friends on St. Patrick’s Day, and this will be perfect!

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Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count March 10, 2012 at 11:42 am

I could surely eat a piece of this with some tea, right now!!

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Liz @ iheartvegetables March 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm

I’ve never made soda bread before! I tried making some (non quick) bread a couple weeks ago and it was an epic fail. I added the raisins to the breadmaker too early, and they basically just dissolved in the bread. haha it was so bad! Live and learn ;)

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Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo March 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

Irish soda bread is so delicious; I really only eat it once a year, but it’s so good that I should more often. Your savory version looks divine!

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin March 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I love Irish soda bread! It’s dangerous for me to keep around though because I can literally demolish it within a day! :P I usually make mine savoury too, but I don’t really add anything too it. Adding dates and thyme sounds delicious!

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Lindsey @ Pas de Deux March 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

I found it! Now I can’t decide whether I want to go classic or vegan and savory when I make this over the weekend…

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