Irish Soda Bread, Gluten-Free

Top O’ the Afternoon to ye! Or so I imagine that’s how a leprechaun would greet you. Today, as you know, is St. Patrick’s Day. It was orginally celebrated as the Catholic feast day for St. Patrick. Now it’s celebrated as a secular holiday honoring Irish culture. Although folks in the US have taken it on as an unofficial holiday, in 1903 St. Patrick’s Day became an official holiday in Ireland. I’m not sure how they celebrate it in Ireland, but in the US, we’ve taken it on as an excuse to have a party–which I like very much.

When I lived in New York City, I had a boss who took the day as his personal holiday. He was Irish, and he actually looked kind of like a leprechaun. He had a full head of brown hair, a button nose, a twinkle in his eyes, and a full beard. He was one of my most favorite bosses ever. Anyway, he took St. Patrick’s Day as a personal holiday and spent the whole day in his favorite pub. When we joined him at the end of the work day, he was, as you can imagine, three sheets to the wind. But, he was having a fabulous time.

As you know, green is to be worn on St. Patrick’s Day. When I was younger, you got a pinch from everyone if you didn’t wear green. I was interested to learn that blue used to be the color associated with St. Patrick. The story is that St. Patrick used a shamrock (a three-leafed plant) to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Catholic Irish people. Thus, over the years, because St. Patrick was associated with the shamrock, his official color evolved from blue to green. The “wearing of the green” originally meant wearing a shamrock on your clothing. When I was younger, the lore was that you were supposed to wear orange if you were “officially” Irish. I have no idea what that means. I have much Celtic blood running through my veins–I am Scottish on my mother’s side and Welsh on my dad’s side. I’m not sure if Irish is mixed in there somewhere. Whatever color our family is supposed to wear, Girlfriend managed to go to school today wearing no green, so she got a lot of pinches from her schoolmates.

Now, to the food.  Irish soda bread–that ubiquitious raisin or currant-laden quick bread–has come to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day. In our house, we use a recipe that I got from a fellow preschool mom many years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t remember her name or where she got the recipe. I’m guessing it was from a newspaper somewhere. Regardless of where it came from, this loaf (adapted to gluten-free) is easy to make and is pleasantly sweet. It’s nice to eat slices of it toasted and slathered in butter. I’m guessing it’s not very authentic, but it’s yummy just the same!

Irish Soda Bread, Gluten-Free

Special Equipment Needed
-9×5 inch loaf pan


3 cups Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 extra large egg
2 cups buttermilk (or milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar mixed in), well-shaken
1 cup dried currants (or raisins)
extra tapioca flour and melted butter for the pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour your pan with the additional tapioca flour and butter.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

Rub butter pieces into this mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand with pebbles.

Add the sugar, mix in well.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the buttermilk.  Add this egg mixture to your butter-flour mixture.  Mix with a large spoon until combined.  Your dough will be thick but fluffy.  Add the currants (or raisins).  Mix well.

Turn batter out into your prepared pan.  Smooth top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes–until a tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


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  1. Karin says

    Hi, All the gf soda bread recipes I’ve seen seem to be on the sweet side. We love a very savoury taste to our bread. Can you advise substitutions to minimise the sweetness of the flavour please? Also, will honey or molasses tend towards a more sweet flavour generally in bread recipes compared to using sugar? And finally, if the bread recipe specifies sugar, what’s the minimum quantity of sugar necessary to activate the yeast?

    • says

      Karin: My soda bread is a bit sweet because I like it sweet–it is what is known as a “quick bread” which means it is yeast-less (the leavening comes from the baking soda, hence the name). I don’t know what other people do. Also, breads containing yeast don’t require sugar to activate the yeast–yeast will grow without sugar, although it grows a bit more quickly in the presence of sugar. I would recommend experimenting with your bread recipes and see how reducing the sugar to 1 tablespoon (or none) works for you. Molasses or honey have different flavor profiles than cane sugar, in addition to being a bit more sweet. Substituting a liquid sweetener in the place of sugar is tricky–because you are changing the liquid to dry ingredient ratio in the recipe. So, again, you have to experiment and see how it goes for you.

      • Karin says

        Thanks Jeanne – that’s exactly what I needed to know. I’ll let you know how I get on with reducing the sugar content in yeast and non-yeast breads. We eat soda bread with marmite (vegemite), smoked salmon, eggs or cheese – freshly baked or toasted straight from the freezer!
        Thank you so much for your dedication and personal responses – I’ve just been diagnosed coeliac, and after wading through endless sites to find bread recipes and a flour blend with consistently good reviews, at last I’ve found your wonderful website and I’m now enthused!

  2. says

    Looks scrumptious. I have most of those flours, already…just need to make better use of them. I truly believe that going gluten free would be healthier for everyone. It’s difficult to get started unless you need to, medically, but I’m getting there!

    • admin says

      Cheryl: Yay! And yes, it’s very hard to get started. But just keep doing baby steps and you will succeed!

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