Therapeutic bread making

Recipes: irish soda bread and banana bread

With a freshly baked bread craving gathering steam inside me, a little baking rampage was in order. Thus a couple nights ago I headed over to a foodie friend’s flat, luxuriously equipped with not one but two temporarily purloined ovens, to get the pent up baking energy out of my system. I missed the memo on St. Patrick’s Day so decided to compensate by making some Irish soda bread. I also conveniently had 8 overripe bananas begging to be used, so banana bread it was as well. I ended up with a nice crusty loaf of healthy, hearty soda bread and four mini-loaves of banana bread, and I must say that there’s something deeply, almost profoundly, satisfying about seeing carbs rise and/or brown in the oven. I imagine people experience similar feelings of satisfaction from making things like babies and such, but for me, it’s all about the measuring, mixing, and baking. No babies necessary.


(Recipe after the jump)

Irish soda bread
Adapted from closet cooking

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup milk + a splash of white vinegar (but buttermilk is ideal)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Mix in the liquids to form a dough.
3. Shape the dough and place it on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan. Top with salt, herbs, whatever you fancy.
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes (the top should be golden brown).


My go-to banana bread:
(Adapted from Beth Hensperger’s banana bread from The Bread Bible)


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar or honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
1 1/4 cups unbleached AP flour
(for half the batch I added some cocoa powder; for the other half I used ww flour and added pumpkin seeds and craisins.)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan or two mini loaf pans. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, sugar and eggs. Beat until light-colored and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mashed bananas and beat again until well combined.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking soda (and cocoa powder, if using). Add to the banana-egg mixture in batches and stir to combine. Beat well to make a batter that is evenly combined and creamy in consistency.
3. Spoon the batter into loaf pan(s). Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


The soda bread is a keeper — quick, hassle-free, novice-friendly. No point worrying about obtaining the optimum crumb structure or crust quality; sometimes, just bread is good enough. Delicious straight from the oven, as most bread is, or toasted and slathered with some butter. I may start deviating from the current banana bread recipe though, and see if I can get it to turn out more like bread and less like cake. It’d be nice to have one cake-y banana bread recipe and a bread-y one ready to suit my fancy. In any case, this round of baking was nourishing in more ways than one, and I eagerly await the day when I won’t have to trek a quarter mile juggling loaf pans and batter just to get some baking in my life.


One thought on “Therapeutic bread making

  1. ooh the soda bread looks soo hole-y. and the banana bread – i could do without the cranberries!! wait.. are those cranberries?? b/c it’s not listed in your recipe..?

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