Baking Irish soda bread for my clients was a welcome treat. When we went gluten-free, this was one of the first recipes I adapted to fit our new lifestyle. It goes together easily and bakes up golden crusted, studded with sweet dried currants. It’s nice for breakfast, with an afternoon cup of tea or aside a bowl of soup. It also makes a thoughtful gift. Don’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day to bake some for your family.
Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish soda bread has only 4 ingredients: wheat flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. I adapted the tradition to make it work for our lifestyle so it’s not truly authentic but it is delicious. Irish soda bread is a “quick” bread, meaning it depends on baking soda instead of yeast for the lift. As with all soda breads, this version goes together quickly. Combine gluten-free flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, then butter. Add buttermilk and currants. Shape into a round loaf and bake. If you’ve never baked bread like this, trust me, it’s really easy and comes out wonderful.
All you need is a bowl, spoon, cake pan and measuring tools. I prefer to use a digital scale to weigh ingredients for better accuracy. If you don’t have one you can still make the bread but a digital scale is a terrific addition to your tools. I use mine daily.
I test baked several batches of this bread to adapt my old wheat-based recipe. If your currants are hard and dried out, soak them in hot water for 5-7 minutes, then drain and squeeze dry in paper towels. If they are more fresh and moist, you can skip this step.
For the first test I used gluten-free Cup4Cup flour. The crumb was fine, the bread moist, and the flavor wonderful. In fact, as we were shooting it for the photograph it was hard to stop eating it smeared with apricot fruit spread. There are many other gluten-free flours available now. Try Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur’s.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, read this article for 14 great substitutions for buttermilk.
Irish Soda Bread-Gluten Free
- 2 cups gluten-free flour 9 ¼ ounces plus a little extra for your hands
- 4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar divided use
- 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum free baking powder 9 grams
- 1 teaspoon table salt 7 grams
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda 5 grams
- 3 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2/3 cup dried currants if very dry, soak in hot water for 5-7 minutes, drain and dry.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees for convection ovens or 375 for standard ovens. Spray or lightly oil a 9” round cake pan. Optionally, to insure the bread does not stick, line the bottom with a round of baking parchment.
- Into a medium bowl, measure the flour, 4 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. For accuracy, use a digital scale to weigh the ingredients. Whisk to combine. Add the butter and with a fork or a pastry blender, mix in until the flour becomes a coarse pebbly mixture.
- Push dry ingredients aside making a well in the center of the bowl. Pour buttermilk into the center. Gradually stir the buttermilk and flour mixture together. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the currants.
- With a little extra flour, sprinkle your counter or cutting board. Place the dough onto the floured space and with floured hands, shape the dough into a ball. If it sticks, use a pastry or bench scraper to help get it off the board and shape it. You may sprinkle a little flour on top of the loaf as well, but don’t use too much.
- Transfer the dough to the cake pan and press down lightly to spread it out. It will not come to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with the last half tablespoon of sugar. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, cool in the pan 10 minutes and turn the loaf out to cool on a wire rack. Slice or cut into wedges and enjoy.