Thursday, March 6, 2014

Irish Soda Bread -- A New Grain-Free "St. Patrick's Day Tradition"

It was a cold, rainy, blustery day here today, but I was excited to come home from work this evening so I could try the Irish Soda Bread I baked last night. I recently received a request from a follower for a grain free Irish Soda Bread and I had just wrapped up working on a couple of other projects so I had some extra time and decided to make it last night and let it sit overnight, then slice and taste it today. It turned out delicious. Now, having said that...I have to be honest and admit that I have never eaten traditional "regular" Irish Soda Bread before, so I'm not sure exactly what it tastes like or how close my version resembles it...but what I do know is that this was delicious. I poured over many traditional recipe versions to try and get an idea of what this bread was supposed to be like. The one major adjustment that I needed to make, other than the obvious elimination of wheat flour was to find a way to drastically slash the sugar and carbohydrates found in the traditional version. Some recipes have as much as 2 or more cups of raisins which contain a big load of sugar and carbs. I initially planned to use a much smaller amount of currants (instead of raisins) but couldn't find them in my local store, so I opted for regular sun-dried seedless raisins. I drastically reduced the amount of raisins to only 1-ounce (a little 1-ounce box of Sun-Maid raisins). Since 1 ounce is not very many raisins and I wanted to be able to taste them in almost every bite, I chopped them finely with a sharp chef's knife. To keep them from sticking together in clumps and help distribute them more evenly throughout my loaf of bread, I lightly dusted the raisin bits with a tiny bit of coconut flour. It worked like a charm -- much the way cornstarch would and separated them into itty bitty individual "raisinettes". I used my favorite Honeyville blanched almond flour to get the finest grind of almond flour. I also used buttermilk  which is found in many traditional recipes, but I reduced the amount drastically. I also added a couple of non-traditional ingredients to help compensate for the lack of gluten in almond flour -- I added 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon of xanthum gum to give my bread added structure, much the way gluten does when using traditional wheat flour. I also added another non-traditional, but "politically correct" ingredient...a bit of Irish Kerrygold butter that I cut in with a pastry cutter/dough blender. It just felt like the right thing to do! After baking and cooling my loaf of bread last night, I loosely covered it and then uncovered it for a bit about an hour before slicing it (it gets moist when covered). I sliced one fourth of the small rounded loaf into 1/4-inch slices and placed them on a baking sheet and popped them into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes to warm up and toast lightly. I served it with Kerrygold butter. I absolutely LOVED this bread. I don't know how close it is in flavor to traditional soda bread...but regardless, it is very tasty. I think it would be absolutely delicious served with tea or coffee and spread with Irish butter and maybe a touch of jam. To compensate for the reduced raisins and the sweetness they provide, I added a few tablespoons of Swerve granular sweetener to this recipe. It add just the right amount of sweetness without making it too sweet. It was perfect in my opinion. Hubby really enjoyed it, too...but this is also his first time having Irish Soda Bread. It is a tasty loaf of bread as is and would be delicious with some Ceylon cinnamon added to make it more of a breakfast bread/coffee cake. I snapped some photos below as well as my recipe for grain free Irish Soda Bread. Enjoy!







1-ounce of finely chopped raisins -- doesn't look like much, right?
Same 1-ounce of finely chopped raisins separated by tossing with
 1 teaspoon coconut flour so they don't stick together
It's easy to cut butter into the flour mixture with a pastry/dough blender
See how a very small amount of raisins seems like so much more?







Irish Soda Bread -- Grain-Free

Ingredients:

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons Swerve Sweetener (or other granular sweetener)
2 tablespoons diced chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1-ounce box of raisins, chopped finely
1 teaspoon coconut flour

Directions:

In a medium bowl, add almond flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, sweetener, and whisk until well combined. Using a pastry cutter/dough blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk in xanthum gum. In a small bowl, toss chopped raisins with coconut flour until lightly dusted (this keeps raisins from sticking together); stir raisins into dry mixture.

In a glass measuring cup, add buttermilk and egg and lightly beat. Make a well in center of dry mixture; pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula just until dough pulls together into a soft ball. Shape dough with hands lightly dampened with water into a rounded loaf and transfer to a lightly greased 10-inch cast iron or oven proof skillet, baking sheet or cake pan. Using a sharp serrated knife, score top of loaf with "X-shaped" 1/2-inch deep slashes. Place in a 350 degree F oven and bake until golden brown, about 32-35 minutes. If additional browning is desired, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake approximately 5 to 7 minutes longer. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; transfer bread to a wire rack to cool. Serve bread sliced with butter or jam at room temperature or lightly toast slices in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your timing is perfect! My mother just made some Irish soda bread today and I was a little jealous to not be able to try some. Only change I will make to this is we love anise in our soda bread! Thank You!

CyberSis said...

Hi GGC,

Top of the mornin' to ya! This looks fantastic and perfectly "authentic"! This is moving right to the top of my "queue"! Thanks for once again doing the heavy lifting and creating this lovely bread! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous -- I bet anise is great in it -- you could also add more raisins or make it sweeter, too, if you wanted. Hope you enjoy it. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis! If you try it, you will have to let me know how it compares to "real" soda bread. I've never had the regular kind so wasn't sure what to expect. I did like this bread though as a "slightly sweet" bread. I think it would be great with coffee or tea and the next time I make it I will probably add a bit of cinnamon, too. :-)

905lovestostamp said...

I follow your blog regularly, and was SO excited when I saw your Irish Soda bread last night, I could hardly wait!!! I do think that adding cinnamon would be an excellent addition to this sweet bread.

I lived in the UK for a year and travelled to Ireland with an Irish friend, and remember with GREAT fondness some Irish Soda "Wheaten" bread. It was not really sweet, it had a biscuit texture but was made with whole grains, and oh my was in wonderful toasted!!! I've dreamed of that bread for many years. HOPING you might consider trying a version like that one. I know I'd be really grateful, and I know you'd love it. Great to have the sweet version for more of a coffee cake, and these soda breads are so easy to make. So I am HOPING (please?!) that you will also work on a grainy version that isn't so sweet. Thank you for all of your efforts for us. I've gone wheat-free but not totally grain-free (for example I still eat quinoa, love it in a salad, but I increase the veggies in it and add more when I serve it to keep down the grain content) yet anyway, but your recipes my just persuade me to go that way. I went wheat-free for over a year then went off the wagon after losing a dear friend. Now I'm back (just, this week), and I appreciate your excellent recipes which I'm looking forward to trying--it will be your black pepper and cheddar biscuits first I think. :)

By the way, I cannot find your Kerrygold Irish butter here, wishing they carried it at our Costco in Canada--I live in Southern Ontario--about 45 minutes from the NY border near Buffalo, and no Costco in NY state alas. But I will ask!!! Thanks so much for letting us know where you find these treasures. I am so very grateful.

Best wishes to you,

Joanne Lowe

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Joanne -- Thanks so much! Hope you like the Irish Soda Bread. I don't believe I've ever seen the other non-sweet kind you describe. Do you by chance have a regular recipe of one that you could share to see if I could convert it? I will see what I can find online but if you find one you think is like the one you remember, let me know. I would be happy to try making one if I find a recipe to use. Good luck on being wheat-free again (and so sorry about your friend). I wish you lots of success and hope to help you any way that I can! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Joanne -- Thanks so much! Hope you like the Irish Soda Bread. I don't believe I've ever seen the other non-sweet kind you describe. Do you by chance have a regular recipe of one that you could share to see if I could convert it? I will see what I can find online but if you find one you think is like the one you remember, let me know. I would be happy to try making one if I find a recipe to use. Good luck on being wheat-free again (and so sorry about your friend). I wish you lots of success and hope to help you any way that I can! :-)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you could braid this and call it a Challah (jewish egg bread)?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous -- regarding braiding the bread into Challah -- you would probably need to stiffen up the dough a bit more to handle it like that. Interesting idea though! :-)

Denise said...

Dear Gourmet Girl,
I think that I forgot to add a pinch of salt to the Wheaten Bread recipe which I just sent you. Sorry about that - it is late
Denise

CyberSis said...

Hi GGC,

We had the bread tonight and *really* liked it, even my hubby! :-) I've had it only a couple of times before, so I'm no expert, but as I remember, this is very similar tasting and it looks absolutely authentic. I happened to have currents so I used. The coconut flour trick worked great and the dough formed up nicely. The one problem I had was that when I cut into the baked loaf, it was still somewhat doughy inside even after it was nicely browned and the toothpick came out clean. (I've had this trouble with other loaf type breads.) However, I think I might have an idea about what happened tonight. I baked it in an iron skillet ... I'll bet I should have pre-heated the skillet in the oven before placing the loaf on it. Seems like I heard somewhere that you're supposed to do that, but of course I didn't remember until afterward. Have you even heard that? I think I'll try it next time. No matter, though, the bread was still delicious. I cut some slices and popped them into the microwave for a few seconds and they were good to go. Tomorrow I'll try heating some in the oven. I wonder if you could bake the dough in a doughnut pan? That would certainly eliminate any problem in the middle. :-)

Cinnamon sounds like a nice addition, as does anise. Another thought that struck me as I was eating the bread was "orange zest."

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis! Glad you and your hubby enjoyed the bread. Regarding your center being a little doughy - mine was more moist than the exterior but not doughy. You might be right about the cast iron pan and pre-heating though. They only concern I would have about preheating it and placing the loaf in there was accidentally burning yourself getting it shaped nicely while in a scorching hot pan. I wonder if using a cast iron pan that maybe you could bake it at 350 for the first half of the cooking time and maybe reduce the temp to 325 and bake it the remainder of the time and maybe even longer (so it wouldn't overbrown while baking). Oh wow...orange zest would be really good -- others have suggested anise as well. Never thought about a donut pan -- but bet that might work. I did think about making individual portions in a regular sized muffin tin and wondered how that might work. I sliced the little wedges into 1/4-inch slices and placed them on a baking sheet in the oven -- my hubby really liked it, too (and he is not wheat free). The skillet I used wasn't anywhere near as heavy as cast iron so probably didn't take quite as long to get hot -- so that might have been the difference. I'm thinking reducing the temp and baking longer in cast iron might be safer for you that trying to play with dough in a scorching hot pan. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Denise -- I got your message about forgetting the salt in the "wheaten" bread recipe that you said you sent. I don't see where you sent me the recipe though. I checked my email and Facebook private messages but don't see anything from you. Where did you send it to me at? Let me know because I can't seem to find it. If you wouldn't mind sending it to me again in case it got lost in cyberspace. You can click on the little email icon on my blog (top right corner about my picture) if you want to send it that way. Thanks! :-)

Denise said...

Dear Gourmet Girl
I sent the Wheaten bread recipe to you again, in your comment box, about an hour ago.
Please leave a comment if you did not get it - I could not quite figure out how to email it.
Denise

CyberSis said...

Hi GGC,

I think I'll take you up on your suggestion not to preheat the iron pan. It would be just like me to ... well, you know! :-) Besides, the bottom of the loaf had formed a nice crust. I don't think I'd have wanted it any browner. If I use that pan next time, I'll adjust the baking time and temp as you suggested. I was looking for an excuse to use my 10" cast iron skillet, but I may just decide to use a regular baking pan, next time. The 8" pan gets a lot of use, though ... my hubby is getting to be a real frittata chef! :-)

905lovestostamp said...

Hello GGC!!!! :)

How kind of you to leave that sweet reply!!! You really touched my heart. I so admire what you are doing, and thank you for the encouragement of your example that you CAN eat so many of the foods I thought would be off my plate due mainly to the wheat.

I haven't made this non-sweet Irish Soda Bread, but will look for some and will send them to you. I will talk to some friends who are better bakers and see what recipes they use too and forward those to you.

Thank you for your kind comments regarding the loss of my friend. Sometimes I hear something neat and there's this sudden desire to call her and tell her about it--then it hits me all over again. Just as it does with any great loss, we've all been there. And losing someone so precious SHOULD be tough, that friend held a special place in my heart as all of those who are dear to me do...

I'll be in touch with some recipes, thanks again for your kindness, you are one lovely lady. Not only just a great cook! :)

Blessings, Joanne

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis -- I know I was afraid just using my calphalon pan in the oven that I would forget and grab the handle on it accidentally. I keep thinking about what else I could make with that basic bread dough. It's just so simple to mix together. I was surprised how much sweetness was added from so few raisins, too and just a few tablespoons of sweetener. Lucky you with your hubby becoming a "frittata machine"! They are so versatile aren't they? :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Denise -- I still did not see the recipe you sent. I've checked my spam folder too, just in case...and don't see it. Is there any way you could copy and post it here? That might be the easiest. Sorry it isn't going through. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much, Joanne! <3

Denise said...

Dear Gourmet Girl,
I have just sent the Wheaten Bread recipe again - hope you get it this time.
Denise

Anonymous said...

Dear Gourmet Girl,

Thank you for your kind reply about the idea of braiding this into a challah. I love your recipes and you are so knowledgeable about low carb/gluten free. How would you recommend stiffening up the dough? Thanks so much!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous -- I need to think about what to use to stiffen up the dough -- as it is, it is a soft moist dough that would need quite a bit of stiffening to be able to braid. I'm wondering if adding some flax to the dough might make it stiffer and more easy to handle. It might be something to test on a smaller scale (half the recipe). I will think about that a bit to see what else I think might work. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gourmet girl! I will try some flax and see if it works. I'll let you know...

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hope the flax works! :-)

Darlene said...

I made this bread today and wanted to add my 2 cents. I added a little cinnamon, used currents and baked it on a cookie sheet. Like CyberSis, mine was a little doughy on the inside too. Having read the comments first, I baked it for 20 min @350 and then about 25 min more @325. About halfway through I had to tent it with foil because it was getting pretty brown. After I turned the oven off I left it another 10min or so, because I could see that it was still a little moist in the middle.

I tried a piece toasted, partly because of the moistness, and partly because I miss toast so much! It was delicious, and the best I've had since pre-WB days!

So I'm not sure what to do about the moistness in the middle, but the "yumminess" of this bread outweighs that issue. Thanks for another great recipe~I will be making this often!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Darlene! Glad you liked the bread but wonder what else to do about your doughy center. Do you think possibly flattening the dough ball out a bit more might solve that issue (since the center is the thickest part of the dough)? Glad you enjoyed it toasted, too -- I really liked it that way as well. I may make another loaf tomorrow! :-)

Sharron Timmins said...

88Gourmet Girl...do you know what the net carb count is for this loaf?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Sharron. I wrote it down somewhere when I made the recipe and can't for the life of me find it. The 3 predominant sources of carbs for this recipe is the almond flour, buttermilk and raisins. The net carbs for the raisins is 20. The net carbs for the full fat buttermilk I used is 5.5 (you need to check the actual ingredients you use though) and the approximate net carbs for 2 cups of blanched almond flour is 24. This is the calculator I use: http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

Unknown said...

I made this two times used the cast iron pan and the middle is doughy. So disappointed, I wanted to bring this to my Irish tea today.......used exact ingredients, everything is new and fresh, have a new oven. I read the comment about flattening the bread , but then it changes, and bakes like a pancake not a bread. This recipe needs to be adjusted for it to be called a bread. What is your suggestion?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Dear Unknown -- so sorry this did not turn out well for you. I don't know what to tell you -- it has worked well for others. What type of almond flour did you use? I use Honeyville's blanched almond flour. If you used that, too...maybe you need to bake it longer at a lower temp. Even though your oven is new, have you tried checking the temp with another oven thermometer? Some ovens just run hotter or cooler than others. Let me know about your almond flour.

Elizabeth Richardson said...

I just made this, OMG it is delicious. Thanks for taking the time and energy to bring us these delicious recipes. Everything I've ever tried of yours is delicious and so I can trust your recipes. I so appreciate it! Makes living wheat free doable and enjoyable!

Elizabeth Richardson said...

Dear Gourmet Girl, just made the Irish soda bread and it is delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipes with everyone. They are awesome and I trust them.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much, Elizabeth. I'm so happy you enjoyed the Irish Soda Bread! So glad if my recipes have helped your wheat free journey be a bit easier. Finding some recipes you enjoy make it easier to stick with it. Thanks for the kind words...they are sincerely appreciated! :-)

Darlene said...

I continue to make this bread on a weekly basis. It's wonderful to have toast again, and the recipe is so simple! I do flatten it out a bit more like you suggested, and that has helped with the moistness issue. I've been wondering, though, if this could be baked in a small loaf pan? What do you think?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Darlene -- so glad you are enjoying it! It might do okay in a loaf pan (grain-free breads are just so finicky when it comes to rising though). I wonder if you tried baking in mini-loaf pans if that might work better? Either way, it's worth a try -- worst case scenario is a not-as-pretty loaf! :-)

Anonymous said...

Just started to get interested in WB baking/cooking & found this recipe for the Irish Soda Bread.

To help the center get baked, could the dough be formed around a small slightly greased glass in the center, & then remove the glass before baking it on a cookie sheet?

Not sure, but you may have to try both the flat sheet & a sheet cake pan.

Also, Thank You for all the work you do in your kitchen for those that are doing the WB WOE.

Anonymous II

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous II,

That actually might work with creating a hole in the center with a glass. It would definitely be worthy trying. Thanks so much for the kind words -- I'm happy to be able to help make eating a little bit more enjoyable and varied for those of us WB folks! :-)