It's the middle of March, and that means Irish recipes are popping up everywhere - especially soda bread recipes. Most of these are for a mildly sweet, cake-like bread with raisins. However, soda bread in Ireland is not sweet, nor does it have fruit in it (and it certainly does not have green sugar over top of it, as I've seen in some American grocery stores)! Usually, Irish soda bread has a nubbly wholemeal texture, and is plain enough that it goes equally well with tea at breakfast or with a bowl of potato soup for supper.
This bread, known simply as "brown bread," is also ubiquitous in western Ireland. It can be found at the table of nearly any traditional restaurant or bed-and-breakfast. Because many families have their own way of making it, countless recipes for this bread exist - but they all are based on some very simple ingredients: wholemeal flour, oats, and buttermilk.
I created a gluten-free version by comparing a number of (wheaten) brown bread recipes. The result is a nutty, wholesome loaf; the oats give it a nice chewy texture. It's good with butter or jam, or even topped with some Irish cheese. Enjoy!
Irish Brown Bread
3/8 c Buckwheat flour
3/8 c Teff flour
1/4 c Soy flour
1/4 c Oat flour (be sure it's certified gluten-free)
1/4 c Potato starch
1/4 c Tapioca starch
2 T Garbanzo Bean flour
2 T Sorghum flour
2 T White Rice flour
2 T Expandex modified tapioca starch
1/2 c pin-head oats (again, be sure they are certified GF)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp guar gum
1/4 tsp dough enhancer (optional)
1 ounce unsalted butter (Kerrygold is best)
1 1/4 c buttermilk
Pre-heat the oven to 400° F/204° C. (If using a glass loaf pan, lower the temperature to 375° F/190° C.)
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers. Gradually mix in the buttermilk. The dough will be wet but stiff; beat it until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended.
Spoon the dough into a buttered loaf pan. Smooth the top with a wet spatula. Make 3 - 4 diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until it is lightly browned and the centre is no longer wet. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a tea towel. Wrap it up in the tea towel (this keeps the moisture in) and do not cut it until it has completely cooled.