Golden crusted and studded with sweet dried currants, I baked Irish soda bread for my clients as a thank you for St. Patrick's Day. Make it in one bowl for little mess and clean up. It's easy because there is no yeast involved, so it's considered a quick bread. Don't be fearful of trying to bake a loaf. Enjoy it for breakfast, with a cup of tea or a bowl of soup. It's a nice gift also.
How to Make Irish Soda Bread (Gluten-free)
Traditional Irish soda bread has only 4 ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. I adapted the tradition to make it work for our gluten-free 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.
Simple Tools to Make Irish Soda Bread
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.
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 blends and King Arthur's.
Substitutions for Buttermilk
Buttermilk gives baked goods a light, moist texture. The acidity reacts with the baking soda and powder. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, read this article for 14 great substitutions for buttermilk. Options are listed using milk and lemon juice, milk and vinegar, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk powder, even cashew milk, almond milk and coconut milk (but I've not tested all of these).
Substitutions for Currants
Currants are worth seeking out for baking Irish soda bread, but if you can't find them, substitute dried cranberries, chopped dried pitted dates, even chopped dried cherries or dried blueberries. They are all a nice twist on the traditional and a delight for year-round baking.
- 2 cups gluten-free flour 9 ¼ ounces plus a little extra for your hands
- 4 ½ 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 cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
- 1 cup buttermilk see substitutions below
- ⅔ cup dried currants
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees for convection ovens or 375 for standard ovens. Spray or lightly oil a 9” round cake pan. 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 to the side 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 the top 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.