Soda breads are classified under “quick breads” as they contain baking soda instead of yeast as the leavening agent. Making quick breads calls for using both dry and wet ingredients that are measured and quantified individually and then mixed together.
For soda bread the wet ingredient is primarily buttermilk, while the dry ingredients include flour, baking soda, at times baking powder and salt. The lactic acid in the buttermilk reacts with baking soda to acidify the dough and produce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) for leavening. As a result the dough rises, as it bakes, just like any other yeast based bread.
Most popular among the soda breads is the Irish version that dates back to the early 19th century, when soda bicarbonate replaced yeast in Ireland. Typically the Irish soda bread has a tough exterior and is loaded with raisins/currants or caraway seeds. For more on the Soda Bread, click here.
There is a plethora of recipes and versions of the Soda bread available. I love Banana bread and banana-nut muffins, and wanted to bring the same flavor to the soda bread. So keeping some of the basic ingredients like baking soda, buttermilk and salt constant, I gave the bread a twist by blending in banana and crushed walnuts instead of the regular raisins and caraway seeds. To give it some color, I added a few pieces of finely chopped pitted California prunes. For that added rise, I also included a lightly beaten egg. And a dash of cinnamon for the aromatics!
I avoided sugar completely, as both banana are prunes are naturally sweet and provide for the required sugar quotient.
Instead of baking it entirely as a loaf, I decided to bake individual scoops of the dough to resemble rolls or scones. By that I avoided those unruly crumbs and the pain of slicing the loaf - the right way.
3 ½ cups Whole Wheat flour
I always prefer Whole wheat flour (Organic) to All-Purpose flour. To make Gluten free soda bread/rolls use Almond flour or a mixture of Almond Flour and Tapioca Starch (1:1).
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking soda
2 tablespoon unsalted Butter, melted
1 cup mixture of crushed walnuts, diced banana and chopped prunes
I used 1 medium sized banana, 4-5 halves of walnut, 3 prunes for this mixture.
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
I used home made buttermilk. You could use store bought as well. Click here to learn how to make buttermilk.
A pinch of Cinnamon powder
A close up showing the tough exterior of the roll, along with softer interior with pieces of prunes , banana and crushed walnuts.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line and prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift together 3 cups of wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon powder into a large bowl.
Melt butter and work into the above mixture till the mixture turns coarse.
Add banana-prune-walnut mixture, buttermilk and beaten egg into the mixture. Mix well using hands or spatula (hard) till dough turns stiff. The dough may be sticky due to the wet ingredients and banana. If so, sprinkle some from the remaining ½ cup of wheat flour. Do so till the dough turns stiff.
Dust wheat flour on a clean dry flat working surface. Roll the dough in the flour by kneading once or twice till a ball can be formed. Make sure not to over knead the dough.
Using an ice-cream scoop or cookie scoop place scoops of the dough 1’’ inch apart on the cookie sheet, prepared previously.
Bake at 400F for 40 minutes or rolls are golden brown. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of the rolls ; if it comes out clean then the rolls are done.
Once done, turn off the oven and allow the rolls to stay in it for a few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for 5-7 minutes.
Serve warm or sliced with almond butter with tea or chai.
Recipe Yields about 12 rolls.
I bake sparingly, as I'm very much a novice at baking. That said, I truly enjoyed baking this bread, or should I say rolls. The entire process was simple, short and not very messy at all. Both banana and prunes just added the right amount of sweetness and the dash of cinnamon made the rolls smell really yum.
These rolls go perfect with blueberry preserves or almond butter. Since they dry out quick (within 36-48hours), these are best eaten fresh from the oven. If you decide to consume them 24 hours after baking, then slice and warm or toast them a little.
These rolls go out to Suganya's WBB-Heathly Eats.