The popularity of this iconic bread dates back to the 1800s with the failure of Ireland’s potato crops. This inexpensive staple made with soft wheat, sour milk, butter, salt and baking soda (instead of yeast) meant that poor families could put bread on the table. This gluten-free version uses a blend of soft wheat-free flours and starches to mimic the traditional version. Dairy buttermilk may be used or make your own using dairy-free milk with vinegar added to “sour” it. Buttermilk combined with baking soda creates a chemical reaction that lifts the bread. Adding raisins and orange zest delivers a sweeter “Spotted Dog” loaf. This recipe can be made egg-free; see instructions. It’s easily doubled to make 2 small loaves.
For Egg-Free Irish Soda Bread, omit 1 egg white. Combine 1 tablespoon golden flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes to thicken and cool. Use this mixture to replace the egg white in step 4.
Associate editor Jules Shepard is author of Free For All Cooking (DaCapo Perseus), The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free (DaCapo Perseus), and Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating (CreateSpace).Yields 12 slices
- 2 cups Jules’ Homemade All-Purpose Flour Blend, more for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter or dairy-free alternative
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk of choice mixed with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
- 1 large egg white
- 1 cup raisins, optional
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, optional
1Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 7-inch ovenware bowl or a 6- to 8-inch round cake pan.
2In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour blend, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two butter knives until mixture resembles a pebbly, coarse meal.
4Add baking soda to buttermilk, stirring to combine. Add to flour mixture, along with egg white, raisins (if using) and orange zest (if using). Mix with a fork or paddle attachment until integrated. Dough should be soft. If it’s dry or tight, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together but isn’t sticky.
5Scoop dough into prepared bowl or cake pan. Smooth the top with a wet rubber spatula. Sprinkle lightly with gluten-free flour. Then make a small cross in the top with a large knife.
6Place in preheated oven and bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (not wet).
7Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack before slicing.