This gluten-free Irish soda bread is a really healthy option for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations or whenever you happen to need an awesome carrier to butter, jam, cheese, or just enjoy delicious bread on your breakfast table. Instead of using harmful starch for replacing gluten-filled flours, this bread uses coconut flour and psyllium — fantastic and healthy low-carb alternatives to rice flour, tapioca flour and other questionable starches which too often are used for preparing gluten-free bread. Because of psyllium, just remember to drink plenty of water when eating this bread.
Tips for making the gluten-free Irish soda bread
There are not too many phases when making this bread. Just mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients and then combine them. It might be a good idea to whisk vigorously while adding the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients to prevent lumps, but to be honest, I’ve always just tossed in the dry ingredients at once and never had any problems with lumping.
But let’s take a look how to make this beautiful bread:
Take a small bowl and add there the coconut flour…
…and the salt if you use it.
Take a clean large bowl and add there the eggs (gee, the broken yolk looks so bad in the photo)…
…and the buttermilk.
I prefer wire whisk — or I think this is actually called gravy whisk what I’m using. Anyway, you see the shape below.
Mix until well mixed.
Add the coconut flour mixture to the egg mixture.
Whisk really well to break all lumps.
The dough becomes thick very quickly. You can wait for 5 minutes that the dough reaches the final thickness.
Then just grab the dough with clean hands…
…and form it into a big ball.
Place the ball on a greased ovenproof plate and flatten the ball so that it’s some 1–1 1/2 inches (2.5–4 cm) thick.
Cut two deep crisscrossing lines through the center of the loaf with wet hands.
Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out dry.
|Per slice if 8 slices in total:
My gluten-free Irish soda bread experiments
It’s some years now since I wanted to try out gluten-free low-carb Irish soda bread. Well, I’ve never eaten Irish soda bread, but I have seen plenty of mainstream recipes for the bread. My dream has been to create a proper low-carb version. Not sweet, but close to the authentic one, where you use only flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Well, my low-carb gluten-free bread wouldn’t be anyway too authentic, but as close as I can get with these ingredients. In addition, I wanted to use oven, not griddle, for baking the bread.
I have seen some gluten-free Irish soda bread recipes, but unfortunately all-purpose flour was replaced with starches, like rice flour, tapioca flour and corn starch. Personally, I would never eat those starches, I once did and I simply couldn’t get rid of that sticky stuff on my teeth! Even worse, starches behave just like sugar in your body, so by all means avoid them, there is no single reason to eat starch especially when you can prepare delicious baked goods with much healthier ingredients!
I was wondering whether to use almond flour or coconut flour as base in my first gluten-free Irish soda bread experiment. Because coconut flour is more affordable, I decided to use that. In addition to coconut flour, I wanted to use psyllium to help the bread hold better together. Psyllium somehow helps in rising as well. Usually the bread or rolls (like the Rockin’ Rolls in my book Easy Everyday Recipes) rise and puff enormously when you add some psyllium to the dough.
Naturally, buttermilk was one classic ingredient I had to add to my recipe. Without that the bread wouldn’t have been able to rise that much when baking soda was used as a leavening agent. Buttermilk also brings the needed moisture for otherwise dry coconut flour and psyllium. Eggs would be also needed for binding, as eggs are more or less a must with coconut flour: without eggs coconut flour based baked goods won’t hold together. That is still something I would like to experiment more, to find alternative ingredients for eggs when using coconut flour.
This is again a great example how funny things happen. I wrote the last sentence in the previous paragraph yesterday, and today, just a couple of hours ago I met a wonderful lady who is a the first ever Certified Healing Codes Coach here in Finland. Her family is also on a gluten-free diet, but some of the family members are also allergic to eggs. I told about my gluten-free recipes and explained also about the dangers of starch, and she got enthusiastic. Now I have a very good reason to find out the best egg replacement that you can use with coconut flour, as I really would like to develop healthy and delicious bread recipes for that lady and her family.
So, now I basically knew which ingredients I wanted to use, but how about the amounts of the ingredients? If I take — let’s say 1/2 cup (120 ml) — coconut flour, how much should I use psyllium, baking soda, eggs (needed for binding) and buttermilk? I decided to go by gut feeling and chose 1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3 eggs and 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk.
I combined the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, after which I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mixed everything well using a gravy whisk. Originally, I wanted to use an electric mixer, but my husband was taking a nap and I didn’t want to cause too much noise. In the end, whisking worked really well.
The dough was relatively thick. I let it stand still 5 minutes to reach the final thickness. I formed the dough into a quite round and slightly flat loaf, about 2 inches (5 cm) thick, maybe a bit less. I placed the loaf on an ovenproof plate. With wet hands, I cut two wide crisscrossing lines through the center of the loaf. Not very deep, maybe just 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) deep.
I baked the loaf in a preheated oven, at 350 °F (175 °C). After 40 minutes I was sure that the bread is done so I removed the plate from the oven. Well, the bread had got stuck to the plate. Maybe greasing the plate would help?
The bread looked pretty good, though, just a bit too crumbly on top. To my surprise the center was quite wet when I cut the loaf in half. I think I added too much buttermilk to the dough. The crumbliness in turn was result from too much coconut flour. Maybe I could have baked the bread 10 minutes longer as well?
For my next experiment I took 1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut flour, 2 tablespoons psyllium husk powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3 eggs and 1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk. I baked the bread for 50 minutes. The bread puffed and rose enormously and I couldn’t see anymore the crisscross pattern on top! The texture was perfectly soft but not too moist. Wonderful! I was really satisfied expect that vanished crisscross pattern… Maybe I simply have to cut deeper lines?
I still made another experiment where I used 1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut flour, 2 tablespoons psyllium, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3 eggs and 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk. I also wanted to redo my second experiment, but now just press a deeper crisscross pattern.
Aftter all, it was difficult to decide which of the experiments was the best one. After some serious pondering I decided to go with the recipe I’ve given below. I know that it works and I’ve repeated it a couple of times.
All these experiments I made while visiting my parents, so I used my mom’s equipment and oven. In the end, I had four loaves of bread. Luckily my whole family — including my parents — loved the bread and all was gone in no time.
Tips for variation
This is a very basic gluten-free low-carb variation on Irish soda bread. If you like — and you tolerate — you can add raisins and some sweetener to the dough.
Again, I recommend to use extra large eggs if you can get those, but if you can’t, don’t worry, the bread will be great just with regular large eggs.
To reduce the carb count even more, next time I’m going to try how some thick plain Greek yogurt with added water to make it thin works instead of buttermilk.
The color of this bread is on the dark side. If you would prefer lighter color, you can try covering the bread with aluminium foil while baking.
I dried some sliced leftover bread in the oven. It made delicious crisp bread, a perfect carrier for dips and delicious spreads. (Perfect also for those late-night munchies…)
Oh yes, still another tip: if you prefer high, well-risen and puffed bread (like in the photo above where there are two loaves in the oven and the one in the back is high, round and lost the crisscross pattern), you can just omit the crisscross, i.e. just bake the flattened bread without making the crisscross pattern. The flattened bread will just rise enormously!
Have a cheerful St. Patrick’s Day! (I wish I could say something really clever in Irish here…! Since I cannot, I say it in Finnish Savo dialect which has nothing to do with Irish but sounds as peculiar: “Pitäkeepä oekeen rattoesa Pyhän Patrikin päevä”!)