Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread? Is it possible? With St. Patrick’s Day being tomorrow, I thought I would whip up a traditional Irish recipe. I wanted to stay away from sweets if possible, as I am trying to watch my intake of such delicious treats. My mom made some home-made split pea soup the other day and I thought what a great compliment a loaf of Irish Soda Bread would be to the soup for Sunday night dinner.
In addition to having my mom and grandmother teach me to cook/bake, I was fortunate to study under a Master Baker & Pastry Chef Susan Robinson during my senior year of high school/freshman year of college. Susan and her husband Bennett, owed Gourmet to Go, a full service artisan food shop and catering company. Susan was classically trained in France and she had impeccably high standards when it came to baking and pastry, which I have carried forward into my gluten-free baking.
Baking is really about being precise, as well as highly scientific. One must understand the chemical reactions created say when baking a loaf of bread or a cake. And when you are baking gluten-free even more so! When you remove gluten from the equation, how do you create that lift and lightness in a loaf of bread or cake? So in deciding to bake Irish Soda Bread to go with the split pea soup, I wanted to go a more savory route versus a traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe made with currants and orange zest. I opted for pearl onions and caraway seeds.
Here is the recipe & instructions for this rustic Irish Soda Bread:
- 4 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flower (I used flour from Gluten-Free Pantry)
- 3 tablespoons of vegan sugar
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (equal to 4 tablespoons)
- 1 3/4 cup gluten-free buttermilk
- 1 egg (extra large)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 cup pearl onions (peeled and cut into halves)
- 1/2 cup caraway seed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and/or use a Silpat baking mat.
- First step is to add baking soda to egg and set aside for about 10 minutes. This will create a chemical reaction that will give lift to the bread. Leave butter and buttermilk in refrigerator until your ready). Zest lemons (will take approximately two (2) lemons depending upon size of lemons).
- In a mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer) add in flour, sugar, salt and blend together on low with the standard paddle attachment. Remove butter from refrigerator and cut into small slices, adding into flour mixture piece by piece until the butter is fully incorporated into the flour mixture.
- Add egg and baking soda mixture, along with lemon zest to buttermilk (I suggest measuring out buttermilk in a glass measuring cup, as this will aid in adding to the flour mixture later). Lightly beat with a fork or whisk. Add in pearl onions.
- Next with mixer on low, slowly add in buttermilk mixture to the flour, slowly combining until you’ve incorporated all the buttermilk mixture. Add in caraway seeds and fully incorporate into flour mixture.
- Turn off mixer and place dough onto a well floured surface. I like to use a marble cutting board, as it seems to work better than just rolling out on my kitchen counter (might have to do with the temperature of the marble). The dough will be very “wet” as your kneading, so set additional gluten-free flour out to use. Knead the bread loaf 6-8 times, adding in flour each time until dough is no longer wet and ultimately forming a round loaf (fold the dough in half and continue to hold the ball of dough tightly underneath, working your way around in a circle continuing to pull the dough underneath until you have a well-formed round loaf). *Note: Be sure to not add too much flour while kneading which result in a dry loaf of bread.
- Place the loaf on the baking sheet, lightly dusting the top of the loaf with gluten-free flour. Next taking a serrated knife, cut either three diagonal lines or a “X” across the top of the loaf. Place in the oven for 55 minutes. Using a wood skewer, test the center of the bread to make sure its done (it will come out clean when the bread is done). If skewer comes out with dough, return bread to oven at 6-8 minute increments, but not baking longer than 1 hour 15 minutes, as sugars will begin to pull on the top of the loaf.
- Place on baking rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Once out of the oven and slightly cooked, I sliced off a few pieces for my mom and I to try. The loaf was still warm so the butter melted just so. I love the combination of the caraway seed and the lemon zest. Both compliment each other and the lemon zest adds a lightness to this rustic loaf of bread.
Pair with a soup like split pea or cheddar ale (gluten-free of course) or just slice of a piece while still warm! Wishing you and yours a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!