Whether you're new to bread-baking or an old hand, this Gluten-Free Soaked Irish Soda Bread will appeal to you!
The results: delicious, exciting. The process: easy, fun!
Soda breads, by nature, are not difficult. When baking soda reacts with acidic buttermilk, the dough rises. There's no yeast, no starter, and no kneading! I use simple hand beaters. Or, the paddle attachment to your upright mixer works well, too.
Despite its ease, this gluten-free bread yields impressive results — a beautiful “x” across its top which bursts open during baking, a golden crust, a hearty yet soft middle. Although optional, my family loves to add raisins. And why not cinnamon, too, for cinnamon-raisin toast?
The History Of Soda Bread
Soda breads originated in Ireland. Apparently, they were also common fare in Australia, Serbia, Scotland and the early Americas. Baking soda was first introduced to Ireland in the 1800s, when virtually no one there had ovens. The soda allowed them to make loaves of bread on their stove tops, in cast iron pots with the lids on!
Poor peasants with no ovens also had only meager staples: flour, buttermilk, salt and baking soda. Surprisingly, although created out of want, soda breads have remained popular. That’s because they’re reliable. They don’t require advanced bread baking skills or a lot of work. And the ingredients are usually on hand.
Plus, as you’ll see upon making this recipe, soda breads are delicious! They deliver a yeast-like bread that can be used for toast or sandwiches, for a healthy snack or side.
Staunch traditionalists stick by Irish soda bread’s original four ingredients: flour, buttermilk, salt and baking soda. They’re happy to eat versions like this one, studded with raisins and leavened with a bit of egg, but technically this recipe is then called a cake, specifically Spotted Dog or Railway Cake.
As you’ll see from other soda bread recipes, raisins, eggs, butter (and now gluten-free!) changes are part of the food evolution that occurs in our world. There are always regional variations on any original version.
Fun fact: the beautiful cross cut into the top of the loaf allows it to expand while baking. The quarters created by the cross are called farls.
About These Gluten-Free Ingredients
My version of Irish soda bread is gluten-free, which actually mimics — to an extent — original soda bread. Irish bakers used soft wheat, which contains less gluten than hard wheat flour.
Let's go through a few of the ingredients in this gluten-free soda bread…
- Rice and sorghum flours — soaked overnight in an acidic medium for optimum digestibility (sour milk, buttermilk, clabbered milk, or kefir)
- Chia seed flour and psyllium husk flour — for elasticity
- Egg and water — for a lighter loaf and good rise
- Buttermilk — to soak the flours and make them more digestible by reducing phytate content
I love using the traditional buttermilk to “pre-digest” the flour. I can't imagine not doing so — it's already in the recipe!
By combining flour and buttermilk 12 to 24 hours in advance, we create a better loaf for gut and body. Without further ado, here's my gluten-free and soaked version of Irish soda bread, combining traditional preparation methods with a traditional loaf for the best of both worlds.
Gluten-Free Soaked Irish Soda Bread
Soda breads are reliable, easy, and require only simple ingredients that most people keep on-hand. No yeast, no starter, no kneading... This Gluten-Free Soaked Irish Soda Bread combines traditional preparation methods with a traditional loaf for the healthiest loaf for gut and body!
- 1-1/2 cups acidic medium of choice buttermilk, sour milk, clabbered milk, or kefir
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups brown rice flour
- 1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
- 1/3 cup chia seed flour grind 2/3 cup chia seeds, then measure flour
- 1/4 cup psyllium husk powder NOT husks, must be the husk *powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup butter melted and cooled
- 1 organic or pastured egg
- 2/3 cup raisins optional
Add buttermilk, water, brown rice flour, and sorghum flour to a large mixing bowl.
Using hand beaters on low speed, combine ingredients well.
Form batter into a ball and place in ceramic dish. Cover and leave at warm room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or overnight.
Once dough is soured, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Transfer dough ball to a large mixing bowl.
In separate medium size bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients: chia seed flour, psyllium husk powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, and sea salt.
Add cooled melted butter, egg, and dry ingredients to the soured dough.
Use hand beaters on medium-low speed to combine all ingredients well, about 30 seconds. Do not over-mix.
Add raisins, if using, and mix again to combine.
Dough will be soft at this point, but will continue to stiffen quickly.
Form dough into desired boule shape, place on prepared cookie sheet, and continue to pat it into desired shape.
Use a sharp knife to make an “x” across the surface of the loaf, about 1/2-inch deep.
Place into preheated oven and bake for about 55 minutes, until it feels somewhat light and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. (This loaf will not sound as light as some loaf recipes — it’s a bit heavier by nature.)
Slice and enjoy!
What about you? With raisins or without? 😉
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