Gluten-free bread always tastes a bit… well… gluten-free. However, gluten-free soda bread is a delicious alternative! It is so quick and easy that I often bake a loaf to serve with dinner.
The reason why soda bread is ideal for gluten-free baking comes from its Irish roots. Ireland is too far north and too wet to grow high gluten wheat. So instead of baking yeasted bread that depends on gluten for the structure, they baked soda bread.
I have designed this recipe to mimic my wheat-based soda bread, with a few adjustments to account for the lack of gluten. However, the results are just as delicious as any Irish Granny could make on her peat fire hearth!
Unlike my gluten-free sourdough bread, soaking and fermenting the flour is not required for the rising action of this loaf.
However, I always recommend soaking flour for gluten-free baked goods. It improves the flavor and structure and allows the flour to fully hydrate. Prefermenting also makes grains easier to digest by breaking down the complex carbs. So if baked goods leave you feeling sluggish, try starting with a ferment.
Here are the steps for soaking and prefermenting this soda bread recipe:
- Use dairy that has been cultured and fermented. Cultured buttermilk is traditional. Milk kefir is an easy replacement. If you want to use yogurt, use a 50/50 mix of milk and yogurt, otherwise, the mixture will be too dry.
- Mix the buttermilk and flour in a large glass bowl.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave it on the counter to soak for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours.
- Follow the rest of the recipe as written, mixing the rest of the ingredients directly into the soaked flour.
I like taking this basic gluten-free soda bread recipe and flavoring it to suit the meal.
Here are a few of our favorite flavors:
- A seedy loaf: Add 1/2 cup of mixed seeds (flax, poppy, and sesame seeds) in the batter, then sprinkle the top of the loaf with more seeds. This is delicious toasted for breakfast.
- Wholegrain loaf: In Ireland, soda bread is an earthy brown bread made with cracked wheat. To simulate this flavor and texture add 1/2 cup of millet into the batter.
- Lemon pepper loaf: Add in 1 tsp of lemon zest, 2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper, 1 Tbsp of chives, and 3/4 cup of grated cheese. Reserve some cheese for putting on top of the loaf.
- Rosemary cheese loaf: Dice a medium onion and saute until soft. Stir it into the batter with 2 Tbsp finely diced rosemary and 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Reserve some of the cheese for sprinkling on top of the loaf.
- Cinnamon Raisin loaf: For a sweet breakfast loaf add in 1/4 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of raisins, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon.
Gluten-Free Soda Bread
Gluten-free soda bread is super easy and quick to make. It is my go-to whenever I want a fresh loaf of bread for dinner. See the section above for 5 flavor options that are absolutely delicious.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf 1x
- Category: Bread
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Irish
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 3 cups gluten-free flour (see notes)
- 1 2/3 cups buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp xanthan gum (if your flour doesn’t already contain it)
- Additional flavors (see section above for options)
- Combine buttermilk and flour in a glass bowl. I recommend letting the flour soak and hydrate for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours. See the section above for details on why you should soak and ferment gluten-free flour.
- Mix the remaining ingredients into the dough. Be sure to fully beat in the egg so that everything is well mixed. It will be tough and dry, but do your best to mix it well.
- Gluten-free soda bread needs the support of a loaf pan to keep its shape. If you want a more “free form” round appearance, use a 6-inch cake pan.
- Bake at 400F (200C) for 30-40 min (until a toothpick comes out clean). Score the top of the loaf about halfway through the baking to prevent cracking in the crust.
Keywords: gluten free, rosemary cheese, lemon pepper, seedy, cinnamon raisin, quick, easy, wholegrain, Saint Patrick’s Day