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).
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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.
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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.
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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.)

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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!)
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Bake in 350° oven for 35 minutes.
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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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