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Irish Soda Bread: 2015 Version

Irish Soda Bread: 2015 Version

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Irish Soda Bread

So this is tweaking my gluten-free soda bread recipe even more. Remember that it is very difficult to reproduce the tastes of these original dishes since they were prepared at a time when all food was extremely fresh. In Ireland, we had our own butter and milk, the flour came from a local mill, and your meat and vegetables were from your own land, particularly in the country.

I keep playing with the recipe for Irish soda bread, trying to get a taste even closer to what I grew up with. Both my parents were born in Southern Ireland, so soda bread was almost a daily bread growing up, even in London, England. I like a crusty outside, but my mother’s was always softer. This is a stronger flour blend, so it needs more liquid.

Makes 7-8 large scones. A #40, 2 Tbsp. scoop makes 20 mini scones for 20-25 minutes of cooking. I mixed Kerrygold shredded Irish cheddar with some Kerrygold butter to make a spread for scones. Kerrygold is genuine made in Ireland butter and cheese.


  • 1 cup (5+3/4 oz., 160 g) brown rice, potato starch, tapioca starch mix (Some suggestions include King Arthur, Annalise Roberts, Authentic Foods. Always be sure to double check the label to ensure it is gluten-free)
  • ½ cup teff flour (2+1/2 oz., 70 g)
  • ½ cup millet flour (2 oz., 60 g)
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder (I use Rumford’s labeled gluten-free)
  • ½ tsp. salt (Some people might like more salt if they are heavy salt eaters.)
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1+1/4 cup (10 fl. oz.) buttermilk
  • 1+1/4 tsp. baking soda (Also known as bicarbonate of soda in the UK)


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a wide shallow bowl mix flours, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum and sugar.
  3. Rub butter into flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir baking soda into buttermilk. Many older English recipes have you stir baking soda into liquid ingredients so it dissolves. Otherwise, you can taste an unpleasant metallic flavor in your mouth from too much baking soda or baking soda left in lumps. That metallic taste is why so many people don’t like soda bread.
  5. Stir buttermilk mix into dry mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until mix resembles quite a sticky dough, not a dry dough. Depending on how carefully you measured ingredients and brands used, the flour mix might suck up liquid and be quite dry, needing more of the buttermilk. Weather conditions, like humidity, make a difference to the dryness of flours. If you think mix is too wet, wait a moment or two. I find that baking powder and xanthan gum almost immediately thicken dough so it is scoopable. You do want it to be sticky, so it is not dry on baking. This dough is dark colored so it is difficult to see if it needs more liquid. Stir to the very bottom of the mixing bowl.
  6. Scoop dough onto lined cookie sheet using roughly a quarter cup scoop.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Even though bread might look cooked, if you break off a piece and it still tastes a bit grainy and bitter soda, it needs more cooking. When thoroughly cooked there shouldn’t be a soda aftertaste. Cook until bread is well risen, hard on top to the touch and sounds hollow if you tap the bottom of the breads.
  8. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Rub with butter if you want. Wrap in clean cloth to soften crust if you want. I love the crunchy, nutty crust so I prefer it crisp.
  9. Serve with egg and smoked salmon torte or toast for breakfast with marmelade, or straight from the oven hot with butter melting. We had soda bread and smoked salmon for our wedding and our son’s Christening.

About Chef Oonagh Williams

Chef Oonagh WilliamsChef Oonagh Williams has just been chosen as one of New Hampshire’s WZID’s Outstanding Women for 2015. See her at the WZID Women’s Expo Saturday, March 7 and watch her on WMUR’s Cooks Corner on Friday, March 13 with St. Patrick’s Day recipes. Like her at Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh on Facebook. Chef Oonagh will be at Concord Co-Op on Thursday, March 12, Atkinson Library on Tuesday, March 24 and Westford MA on Thursday, March 26 – programs on the power of food – best medicine or worse poison. Chef Oonagh also does Corporate Lunch ‘n Learns and speaks at various celiac disease conferences. Check the newsletter archives for more of Chef Oonagh’s St. Patricks Day recipes, beef in gluten-free beer, Irish Chicken Rolls, Sticky Toffee puddings and more.

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