Thursday, April 10, 2014

Breaking Bread: Fig & Rosemary Soda Bread

Believe it or not, I tasted Irish Soda Bread for the first time this year. And it was so delicious that I've been craving it ever since. Originally full of butter and cream, I wanted to put my own vegan and (semi) healthy spin on it.  Oh, and I couldn't help but spice it up with some unexpected flavors.

I gotta admit - I was nervous and intimidated to tackle this baby. What is it about bread making that makes it so untouchable and forbidden?

Nerves aside, I decided to face my fears and attempt my first homemade loaf of bread. All for the sake of a craving. And guess what? The results were pretty darn tasty.

Some ingredient notes:
*You could probably use any flour mixture you want. I decided on gluten free and basic flour simply because it's what I had on hand in the largest amounts. Also this specific gluten-free mix gives the bread a density that is key for this specific recipe.
*Since I'm not the biggest fan of raisins, I substituted figs. They're a little more rich in flavor and compliment the rosemary really well.

1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups Gluten-Free Flour (I used Bob's Redmill)
2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegan margarine
3/4 cup dried figs, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a flat baking sheet

In a small bowl, combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside

In a (very) large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt

Cut shortening into dry mixture. You can do this with a mixer, your hands or two knives. I find it easiest to do it with my hands so I can feel the shortening blending into the mix evenly.

Create a hole in the middle of your flour mixture and pour the almond milk into the center. Add the dried figs and rosemary. Mix until just combined.

Lightly flour a flat surface and gently kneed dough until it comes together, forming a disc shape. Do not over-kneed as this will make your bread tough.

 Form into a medium-sized disc, about 1 1/2 inches in height and place on baking sheet.

Bake bread for 55-60 minutes (time may vary depending on flour mixture)

Soft in the middle, crispy on the outside with bites of sweet and savory in-between. What more could you ask for? I dare you to not eat this all up in one day. Good luck.

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