One of the things I love about my family tree is that on a few branches I am able to trace my heritage back several generations, sometimes more. My Great-Grandfather came to America from Ireland in 1925 on the SS Baltic when he was only 19 years old. He made a new life for himself, found my Great-Grandmother and raised their family in Edgewater, NJ. He helped to build roads along the cliffs of The Palisades during the depression, and eventually settled into a job as a postman. Ironically enough, I hear from many family members that he was known for making everyone's favorite soda bread.
My recipe for Irish Soda Bread is actually not a descendant of his recipe, because what we currently know as "Irish Soda Bread" is actually not very traditional. I normally call this bread a St. Patrick's Day Soda Bread because it has been more modernized with the use of eggs, butter and raisins (real traditional Irish Soda Bread is only made with flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk). The recipe below has also been modified to be Gluten-Free in keeping with our new lifestyle. But, if any of my family is reading, fear not, my regular soda bread will most definitely be served alongside our corned beef and cabbage this weekend! Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my fellow Irish-American's and to all the rest of you that get to be Irish for one day a year.
St. Patrick's Day Soda Bread (Gluten-Free)
1 cup of raisins
2 cups Gluten-Free Soda Bread Flour Blend (Recipe below)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (I use Irish Kerrygold butter)
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 375° F. In a small saucepan place 1 cup of raisins and about 2 cups of water (enough to cover the raisins) and simmer for 5 minutes or until soft and plump. Remove from the heat, drain the water and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the GF flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Using your fingers cut 2 tablespoons of butter into the flour mixture until it forms small crumbs. Add the egg, buttermilk and slightly cooled raisins to the flour mixture and stir everything together with a fork until you can work it with your hand. Gather the dough together (working it as minimally as possible, it can be a little crumbly looking). Place the round of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Score the bread with an "X" (I read once that this was supposedly to release the devil). Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Remove the bread from the oven and brush on 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Allow to cool before slicing and spreading on lots of butter!
Gluten-Free Soda Bread Flour Blend
makes 3 cups
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup tapioca flour/starch
1/3 cup potato starch
Whisk all together. Store extra in an airtight container.
Note: Different flour blends are used for different types of baked goods when you are baking gluten-free. This blend has worked great for me, and doesn't have any "beany" aftertaste that is found in some all purpose flour blends. If you have a hard time finding the products listed above, try using your favorite brand of all purpose flour instead.