Easy, Healthy, Baking Soda Bread (vegan too)

My bread recipe has evolved over time. I had a basic recipe and kind of adapted it based on what ingredients I had on hand, and later added new things to make it even healthier and more filling. (It’s incidentally vegan – eggs & milk are pricey and sometimes I am missing one or the other anyway.) I start my day with a piece of this bread and 1/2 cup coffee. It’s easy and enjoyable to make. And it tastes good!

I like to maximize my efforts so these amounts are for a 9×12 pan, but if you wanted to, you could cut the measurements in half to use a square 8×8 pan.

I use whole wheat flour and the following: (Note: I buy all of the Bob’s Red Mill products from Amazon in 4-packs and wait till I have $35 worth of stuff to qualify for free shipping.) The dry ingredients I use aren’t an exact science – and needn’t be followed “to a t” – but are chosen because they provide added nutrients and flavor, and make this a more interesting bread (than flour alone).

Pour 1 2/3 flour into a large bowl. Repeat. (so the total amount is a strange figure something like 3.3 cups.)

Add 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Add about 2 tablespoons each of the following: ground flaxseed, unsweetened coconut, brown sesame seeds, unsalted sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, cocoa powder, and sugar. (Note #1: I buy flaxseed whole and grind it in a coffee grinder as needed. Note #2: You could use 1 tablespoon sugar or eliminate it entirely but I personally like some. Note #3: I very recently learned you should only use regular cocoa powder – not dark – when making baking soda breads. The reason was something chemical & scientific. For our purposes, that’s all we need to know on that subject.)

Add about 1/2 cup each quick oats and raisins. (You can use less if desired.) Stir.

Here is where I like to put the bowl in the sink to work – it’s less messy (I hate flour flying all over the place) and it’s a better angle for stirring, which I do by hand. I think the dough in this amount might be unwieldy in a mixer, but also two points: 1) I feel more connected to the process by hand stirring and 2) This counts as exercise! Burning calories, baby.

Add one cup water, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and about 3/4 cup pumpkin. Stir.

As you can see, the mixture is still dry. You want to add enough water to moisten all the ingredients. Here I added another 3/4 cup water. (Note: Sometimes I make this bread without pumpkin and in that case, I might need to add more water. The objective remains the same, to moisten all the ingredients – that matters more than exact amounts. It’s a forgiving bread and if it comes out too dry for your taste, you’ll know to add more liquid – and even more oil depending on your druthers, next time.)


Lightly spray a 9×12 pan. Put your dough into the pan and spread evenly. Make sure to push the dough into the pan corners (so those pieces don’t end up shorter than the rest!)

Bake in 350° oven for 35 minutes.

Let the bread cool (try to cut it warm and it makes a crumbly mess). I use a plastic serving spatula (to avoid scraping the pan) to cut the bread. I make 2 lengthwise cuts, followed by 5 crosswise cuts, to get 18 pieces. I refrigerate 6 and freeze two bags of 6 each for the coming weeks. Since there is no preservative, you don’t want this bread to languish in your refrigerator. Look how dense and nutritious that is!

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