You don’t have to be Irish (though its a nice bonus!) to enjoy delicious Irish soda bread. You can make it anytime, even if you are on a gluten-free diet. Here is a recipe for gluten-free Irish soda bread—but first, here’s some Irish soda bread facts and history:
The “soda” in soda bread is used as a leavening agent. Leavening agents in past versions of soda bread have included potash (potassium carbonate), bicarbonate of soda, and cream of tartar.
Although most people think of soda bread as being an Irish invention, different forms of soda bread have been popular around the world for centuries. Native peoples in the Americas had their versions of soda bread. In Australia in the early 1800s, soda bread was known as “damper” and was popular because it was easy to prepare out in the wild. In Europe, people first began making soda bread in the mid-19th century.
Scotland has many different varieties of soda bread. “Bannocks” are flat, round cakes cooked on a griddle or even on a stone. “Farl” is often part of a Scottish breakfast, served with potato scones.
In Serbia, soda bread is part of an elaborate Christmas ritual. A coin is baked into the bread. The bread is rotated three times before the family digs in. Whoever finds the coin is going to have good luck in the new year. And, it is also tradition to inscribe symbols on the bread before it is baked, such as stars and circles.
In Ireland, soda bread is made with soft wheat. The buttermilk that is often used in soda bread recipes can be replaced with yogurt or stout. Expert Irish soda bread bakers never knead the dough, and they hardly mix the ingredients before baking.
Are you ready to enjoy some homemade, gluten-free Irish soda bread?
The ingredient list looks long, but you’ll find it is worth the trouble in the end. You’ll need…
1/4 cup potato flour
1/3 cup teff flour, this is a good one to try
2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour, plus some for dusting the baking sheet
3/4 cup sorghum flour
2 tablespoons flax seed
About 1 cup (80 grams) rolled oats
Dash of cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants or raisins
2 to 4 cups buttermilk
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Butter for greasing
Preheat the oven to 375. Grease the baking sheet with butter and dust with sweet rice flour.
Whisk together the potato flour, the teff flour, the almond flour, the sweet rice flour and the sorghum flour. Add in the currants or raisins and mix them in with the flours.
In a small bowl, mix together the flaxseed, baking soda, oats, cinnamon and salt. Add it to the flours and mix well.
Add the buttermilk to this dry mixture and mix until the dough is moist and you can’t see anymore of the flour. You will probably use about 3 cups of the buttermilk.
Lightly flour your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them. Put the dough on the baking sheet, and shape it until it is round and about 3 inches thick. With a knife, cut a deep cross into the top of the bread. Whisk together the egg and the water and brush it evenly on the top of the bread.
Bake the bread for 45-60 minutes, until the crust is a dark brown and you hear a hollow thump when you tap it.
You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy soda bread—people around the world have been making their own version of this treat for centuries. And with this recipe you can enjoy it as well, even if you can’t have gluten.