The morning I prepared and shot this post, I was on something like a wave of inspiration and very good vibes. Along with this post, I prepared and shot two others. It was a very good morning. I was in my little cooking-vibe, jamming away in my kitchen while Adam snoozed in bed, and coming up with some delicious results. Also the light was insane (see the last photo of this post – amazing, albeit not my usual style).
Sadly, my day did not continue so well. After a glorious morning of kitchen (and photo, I think) success, sitting down at a desk to read metaphysical philosophy (screw you, Hegel) is a big come down. Some days it’s fine, but others it most certainly is not. I struggled through for a few hours before falling into a decidedly awful existential crisis at lunch. “Why do I spend my time on something that makes me so unhappy? Why am I ruining my back sitting at a desk? What am I doing with my life?! Why can’t I cook and take photos and cook all day?” In other words, a little self-indulgent funk.
This happens every now and then, and I’m usually inconsolable and horribly grumpy for a few hours. It ain’t pretty folks. Anyway, this time I worked through it. Alternating 30 minutes of Hegel with 30 minutes of photo-editing, and I got through. Sometimes working through it is what works, other times it’s a walk, or the gym, or throwing in the towel and watching documentaries in bed for the rest of the day. No judgement.
Sitting there afterwords, in the cool and quiet almost-dusk light, my little funk seemed very far away and a little silly. And I can look at the photos from that morning, and the delicious food ready to be eaten, and it makes me really happy. Just like that. This bread, friends, is a happy-making bread. My go-to soda bread recipe (one that doesn’t taste only like bicarb soda – my number complaint of most soda breads), based off this recipe from 101 Cookbooks, that I’ve altered to make it vegan. I’m thrilled to share with you.
Straight out of the oven this bread is fragrant and soft with the crunchiest crust (although a bit tricky to slice). A few hours later the crust has softened a little, the flavours of nutty spelt and oatey oats have developed. The next morning it makes sensational toast. Especially if you slather it with some maple-vanilla berry compote. Or not (this bread is equally satisfactory when dunked in soups).
Berry compote is a condiment on regular rotation in our house. Adam has it on yoghurt, or we cut up some fresh fruit and top with granola and compote for a quick (and healthy) dessert. This time I’ve thrown in a used vanilla bean (i.e. I’ve already scraped out the seeds for another use), and it made a wonderful addition. I use any berries I have on hand, and frozen berries work just as well too. Soda bread and compote speaks to me of lazy weekends, sleepy mornings filled with tea, tranquility and some calm. Enjoy!
Spelt and Oat Soda Bread
makes one loaf
- If you’re not making this vegan, substitute the almond milk and vinegar for 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, like in the original recipe.
- Top with any seeds you like – I’ve used sesame and nigella here, but pumpkin, sunflower and poppy would all be lovely.
- You can buy pre-ground oats if you like, but I just grind them for use in my coffee grinder. Whatever is easiest for you!
- 1 3/4 cups almond milk, unsweetened
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups rolled oats, ground fine
- 2 1/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour
- 2 tsp bicarb soda
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp seeds, for top
Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F) without fan. Line an 8 cup loaf tin with baking paper. In a small bowl, mix almond milk and vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes until thick and curdled.
In a large bowl, combine ground oats, spelt flour, bicarb and salt, mixing thoroughly. Stir in almond milk mixture (reserve 1 tbsp before mixing), working until a loose dough forms, then knead until it all comes together without cracks – about 1 minute. Form the dough into a cylinder shape by rolling it a few times, then lift into the tin. With a small sharp knife, make cuts in the top of the dough – this improves both the rise and the crust you’ll get. Brush the top with the reserved almond milk and sprinkle with seeds. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before removing and letting cool completely on a wire rack. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the fridge) it should last 2-3 days.
Maple-Vanilla Berry Compote
makes about 1 cup
- Feel free to use whatever berries you have on hand. Here I’ve used frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. But almost any berry would work!
- Don’t be tempted to cook the compote until it’s really thick – it continues to thicken as it cools, and you want a spreadable consistency, not toffee.
- I’m constantly finding new uses for this compote – I’d love to hear your favourites!
- 1.5 cups of berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, red currants, blackberries)
- 1 used vanilla pod
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have mostly lost their shape and the compote has thickened. Pour into a clean glass jar. Stored in the fridge, this compote should last 1 week.