Monday, March 17, 2014

Gluten Free + Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread - A Successful Experiment! + Going Gluten-Free for Real?

As much as I love soda bread, and always had it in the house around St. Patrick's Day (who knew...Asians eating soda bread?), I know surprisingly little about it.  All I knew was that my parents always really liked it and we would both buy and make it.  It was actually kind of a shock that some people had never had it before - but then again, it was the only aspect of St. Patrick's Day that my family ever celebrated...or "observed" might be the better choice here.  

Alas, when it came to being asked some trivia questions about St. Patrick's's all that I could come up with:

Well...I tried.

All I know that Irish soda bread is one of my favorite breads....but after experimenting with some more foods in my house and eating regular soda bread and my mom's pasta...I can nearly confirm that I now have a gluten-intolerance.  I was always suspicious of it, especially after coming home from Europe last summer and realizing that everytime I ate anything gluten-heavy (breads, pastas, pizzas), I would feel nauseous and get a headache after.  I didn't really quite believe that it could happen to me - especially after four months of eating some type of bread, pasta, or pastry on a daily basis in Europe.  I kept experimenting and somewhat stayed away from anything that had a lot of gluten in it, but didn't follow it really strictly.  I'd say I stuck to about a 75% gluten-free diet but wasn't picky about it at all.  

Then I went home for spring break and was surrounded by all things gluten - pasta, bread, cookies, mom's homemade noodles and buns (which were delicious!).  I didn't go crazy, but I had two main meals - noodles and these Chinese buns filled with sauteed tofu, ground pork, and chives.  These were the only times I felt nauseous for the rest of the day and night after eating, leading me to believe that the use of regular white flour was what was causing my discomfort.  

I haven't seen a nutritionist, nor can I say 100% that gluten is causing my discomfort, but I think these experiences plus my discomfort in the summer say something about my gluten intake and my stomach.  I know now that I will be much more conscious about being gluten-free, and doing some more testing to see how much gluten I can tolerate.

Anyway, explanations aside, I managed to make this:

 A total experiment on gluten free Irish Soda Bread.  

A little non-traditional, I know, but I daresay I liked it BETTER than traditional soda bread.

Traditional soda bread has flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk (and later, raisins were added to the recipe).  The buttermilk and the baking soda are supposed to react to create a leavening agent instead of using yeast.  Now, as delicious as it all definitive lactose-intolerance and almost definitive gluten intolerance has a problem with this recipe.  However, I was not about to let that stop me from eating soda bread this year, leading me to search around for some alternatives...

The recipe from Elana's Pantry was my first hit, which I used as a foundation for my own adaptations. 

I really liked how mine turned out, even though it didn't rise as much as I wanted it to.  I was really worried when it was baking - it took much longer than her recipe said, and didn't quite seem to "set," but the end result was a very pleasant surprise.  It even passed my "dad-test" - my dad, who swears against anything "gluten-free" and remotely healthy alterations to what he calls comfort food.  This entire loaf was gone in two days.

While the almond flour probably yielded more of an almond hint to the bread, everything else tasted the same. I ended up adding much more almond flour, plus some extra almond milk since the original dough was too liquidy to actually handle.  I'd like to try this with some coconut flour later on, too, just for fun - but for now, this works perfectly for me. I also want to give it even more of a "doughy" texture before baking it to see if it will rise better.  As you can see, the scores that I made on the bread didn't expand.

My version of a gluten free Irish soda bread:

3.5. C. Blanched almond flour (I used Honeyville's almond flour)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1.5 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
2 T. Honey
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 C. Almond Milk
3/4 C. Raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Beat the eggs, honey, apple cider vinegar, and almond milk together.  Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes to allow the apple cider vinegar and the milk curdle, thus creating a buttermilk-like texture.
3. Mix the almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.
4. Add the "buttermilk" mixture to the dry ingredients, and add the raisins. Mix well, creating a dough-like mixture.  The mixture should hold together well, and be sticky, but not totally wet to the touch.  

You may have to play around with the exact ratios.  In the original recipe, I added almond milk to allow a better "curdling" effect, but then had to add extra flour because there was too much liquid.  I just kept adding flour until I felt I had achieved a sticky, but solid enough mixture.

5. Place dough on parchment paper and a baking sheet, and form the dough into a circle - about 8-9 inches in diameter.  It should even out to be about 1.5 inches thick.
6. Score the bread in an "X" about 1 cm. deep (This is what I learned from a prior cooking class in high school...eek!)
7. Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes, or until the center comes out clean when you poke it with a toothpick.  If it seems like the edges are starting to bake too quickly, lower the heat on the oven to about 325.
8. When the edges are golden brown and the center is just about set, turn off the oven and leave it in the oven for about 10 minutes.
9.  Take the bread out of the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes.
10. Eat! (Preferably with some tea and jam)

Since this recipe was adapted and created with some pure experimentation and what I felt worked best, I'm curious to see how it works out for you.  If you decide to make this, let me know how it turned out!  Feedback and suggestions are always welcome!


  1. mmm♥ the soda bread looks so delicious!:) lovely pictures! oh and I didn't know you had also google+, I follow you♥

    1. Thank you! I just recently changed my email so I had to make a new google+ account :)