Pareve, Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is addictive. For me anyway. It’s the kind of thing that when I bake, the perfume of that loaf cooking in the oven sets me yearning for the thing to be done so it can cool down and then I can eat it. And nibble the crust and pick at it in little pieces and pretend I am not consuming a large slice of bread. But by the time I finish picking it’s half gone and then I feel guilty (but satisfied!).

So, Soda Bread is a once-a-year treat for me. And now that St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, this is my excuse to make it. I love Soda Bread’s moist, almost cake-like middle and the soft but crusty crust. Slather with some good sweet butter and, well, it’s quite wonderfully memorably delicious.

Classic Irish Soda Bread is made with buttermilk, which makes baked goods like biscuits and quickbreads (and pancakes) tender and tasty too. But if you need a dairy free version here’s one — and I’ve given instructions for the classic buttermilk version too:

Pareve, Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Mix the water and cider vinegar and pour into the flour mixture. Mix the ingredients into a soft dough. Work the raisins and seeds into the dough with your hands. Knead the dough about 18-20 times on a lightly floured surface. Use more flour if the dough seems very sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten the ball slightly. Cut a small X on the top with the tip of a sharp knife. Place the dough on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes one loaf

NOTE: for a dairy version: substitute 1-1/2 cups buttermilk for the water plus cider vinegar