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St. Patrick’s day is upon us, and we make a really big deal of that in the Boston area. Usually this means eating corned beef and cabbage, drinking a lot of Guinness and baking soda bread. It also usually means listening to Nana Pat wax poetic about the Kennedys and listening to how your family is somehow connected to New England’s royal family. But anyway, back to the soda bread.
I’ve been trying to make a low carb vegan soda bread for years now. It’s one of those things that’s on a perpetual list of recipes that I keep scrolling through, hoping that one day it’ll just click. Well, we’re finally there. Happy St. Paddy’s Day, folks – we’ve got ourselves a gluten-free, vegan, low carb soda bread. It’s a relatively easy recipe to make, and a perfect accompaniment to some low carb vegan corned “beef” and cabbage.
If you want to hear some ramblings about why Boston takes its Irish heritage so seriously, I posted that below the recipe. 🙂
Notes on Making Low Carb Vegan Soda Bread (gluten free, nut free, soy free)
- It really does need to cool before being cut into, otherwise the texture won’t be right, and it will still be a little gummy.
- Let it cool on a baking rack, so as not to get soggy on the bottom.
- You could sub in flax for the psyllium, but it won’t hold together quite as well!
- You could add carraway seeds to this, or raisins if you’re less concerned about carbs.
- I ate this for breakfast with some Earth Balance, and it made me super happy
Low Carb Vegan Soda Bread (gluten free, nut free, soy free)
- 1/2 cup 50g coconut flour
- 2 tbsp 10g psyllium husk OR 2 tsp (10g) psyllium husk powder
- 2 tbsp 14g ground flax
- 1 scant tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 7/8 cup nondairy milk plus 1 tsp vinegar or 7/8 cup vegan buttermilk - does this exist?
- Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Stir vinegar into the nondairy milk, and let it sit until it coagulates and thickens. This is normal.
- Whisk together dry ingredients.
- Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes, so all the liquid is absorbed. The dough will be really light and airy, and super delicate. It's really more like a very thick batter.
- Gently turn out the "dough" onto the parchment paper and shape into a round, about 2" (5cm) high.
- Bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before attempting to dig in.
I’m going to hop on a tiny soapbox for a minute to respond to a question no one really asked: why do we care so much about Irish heritage? I’m not actually Irish – I’m 100% American. I was born here, raised here, and with the exception of a handful of years living in Quebec, Canada, I’ve lived here all my life. I do have Irish heritage, though, through my mom’s family. In fact, a sweeping majority of my mom’s ancestors came from Ireland (some through Scottland, but the Scotts-Irish are a story for another day). So, I identify with the 22% of New Englanders who claim Irish heritage.
I frequent Reddit a lot, and there seems to be a bit of confusion amongst Europeans as to why those of us stateside are so keen on recalling the heritage of people we know only through photographs or family trees. I totally get that – if I were to find out that there was a staunch diaspora of people claiming to be American, despite being the grandchildren of Americans living abroad, I’d probably be confused as well. I’d like to offer up some thoughts about this phenomena.
While we celebrate Irish heritage in America now, that wasn’t always the case. Irish immigrants made a dangerous journey (so many died, that the vessels used carry them to the states were called “coffin ships”) to a country that didn’t want them to escape hellish starvation and oppression in their homeland. They took the worst jobs at the worst pay, faced signs that said “No Irish Need Apply,” were attacked in the streets, had their churches and homes burned by nationalist zealots, saw newspapers liken them to apes and lived their daily lives “at the lowest rung of society” (source). And yet, they persevered.
After more than half a century of mistreatment (yes, not as long as other cultures have experienced, but this isn’t the Oppression Olympics), the Irish found their footing at the polls and eventually gained the political capital to be considered acceptable to society. And now, here we are, nearly a century later, celebrating our shared heritage.
I celebrate Irish heritage as a way to remember the struggle this population experienced. I think it’s important that we all reflect on the experiences of our ancestors coming to America and what they had to (and still have to, in many unfortunate cases) endure in order to feel accepted. I think for many of us, this admiration drives a feeling of pride.
This persecution throughout the years also forced large populations of Irish immigrants to live in close proximity and disincentivized assimilation. Generations have grown up eating traditional Irish food, attending Irish Catholic masses and hearing stories about the homeland. Like many other immigrant groups in the US, denied the privilege of being allowed to integrate into the larger society, Irish families retained their identity and passed it down throughout the generations. While each passing generation experiences a more dilute version of this, the feeling of community remains strong.