Everything a traditional Irish soda bread should be, only this one is gluten-free and vegan! A simple flour blend and spotted with raisins, everyone will feel the luck of the Irish with this simple soda bread recipe!
FINALLY! After years of trial and error, I’ve nailed down the best traditional gluten-free Irish soda bread ever! I cried with joy when this final try came our of the oven and the salty sweet dense taste of perfect Irish soda bread hit my palette! My deep Irish roots are singing with pride, as this celiac can now have her soda bread once again!
Here is my tale of the soda bread-less celiac. Pre-celiac (i.e. over 7 years ago) Irish soda bread was one of my favorite things. I would wait all year for the “season” to come and these loaves of glory would become essentials in the house. Dense, crusty, but soft, salty from the baking soda, with pops of sweet from the raisins, warmed and slathered with a dollop of butter. O my BREAD!
Then came celiac and soda bread was no longer an option. When this younger celiac was in her first year, only a few months after diagnosis, March rolled around and that meant soda bread season was in full swing. But nary a gluten-free loaf and no one with the baking skills to make one. Until she got the idea to find a seemingly stellar recipe for Irish soda bread online from a gluten-free blog and make some herself. All went swimmingly. Dough was mixed, mound was formed (maybe too formed).
After this mound was “baked” and removed from the oven, she allowed it to cool a bit before slicing that first glorious piece. Well, it should have been glorious. Looking down at the middle of the loaf, even before cutting, one could see that the bread was under cooked, but the sides were done. The best course of action was to slice and see the inside for herself. But that center, of that very deep mound, was gummy under-baked sadness.
Needless to say, the some of the bread was still enjoyed (the outer sides), but the whole of it was basically all thrown to waste. That lead to no more Irish soda bread for years to come…until now that it is. I had planned on trying my hand at baking some again last year, but didn’t have the proper resources and was still not totally baking literate. This year though, I was fully prepared to take on this major bucket list recipe. I would conquer the soda bread!
Even with my new baking know how, this soda bread did not come easy. It’s silly really. Soda bread is a “poor man’s bread” and a baking product of a poor country. All that’s needed is flour, buttermilk, and baking soda. From there, many countries have adapted it and you’ll see variations with anything from caraway, orange peel, raisins (yes!), some add butter, some not, some are very sweet and others are totally savory. To my family, traditional Irish soda bread is slightly sweet, salty, and has raisins!
So why did I say it was silly? Well, I still couldn’t get this “quick” bread right! The main reason I guess would be since I needed it gluten-free and vegan and the fact that I refuse to ever use someone else’s recipe. So after some research though, I hit the mixing bowl. My first loaf was a sad mess and never even made it to the oven. It was a goopy soup that had no chance of staying in ANY mound. (I saved that and made something else though!) However, after a little more trouble shooting, I nailed it! What resulted was the perfect classic, tender and dense, slightly sour tang, subtly sweet, hard crusted loaf.
The flour blend I made up was so light and easy on the pallete, it went perfectly with the baking soda saltiness and the little studded sweet raisins. For the “buttermilk” aspect, all you have to do is add some apple cider vinegar to your milk and allow it to sit a few minutes before adding it to the flour. You can do with this any milk, vegan or not! Then forming the mound, this time smaller and a bit flatter, making sure to cute deep cross slits in the top to help the center bake, and then brushing the outside with some water mixed with baking soda, the crust browned as needed and the center cooked!
Traditional Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- First, in a small bowl, mix together the milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and stevia. Mix together.
- Now all the soured milk and raisins. Mix together until a slightly sticking, dough forms, then knead with your hands to make sure everything is worked together.
- On a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, plop down the dough in a slightly flattened mound in the center on the pan. Take a sharp knife and make an X on the top of the mound, about ½ inch deep.
- Mix together the water and baking soda mixture and lightly brush the outside of the mound.
- Place the brushed loaf in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool before slicing and serving.
The thing about Irish soda bread is that it’s meant to be eaten with a savory meal (i.e. dinner) and is not a dessert bread. It has always been part of the main meal and in the old days it was baked every few days as it’s a perishable bread and stays best for only 2-3 days. But trust me, you’ll finish this little loaf rather quickly! Some like it sliced and slathered with (coconut) butter, others like to simply rip pieces off and have it at the center of the table for all to share (that’s another reason for the be cross on the top; to section it off!). How ever you decide to eat it, serve it warm and will all the Irish love you can muster. Gluten-free (and vegan!) Irish soda bread for all! The tradition does not have to die with a celiac diagnosis and I am so glad I can bring it back into my life! Maybe St. Patrick’s Day will be good this year? 😉
So tell me:
+ Are you Irish? Heck yea! I guess I can blame that on my pale (sun burn prone skin!)
+ How does your family do soda bread? Does anyone call it “Spotted Dog” or ‘Gypsy Bread”?
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