Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread and a Visit to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day

A gluten free version of traditional Irish Soda Bread to help celebrate the luck o’ the Irish on St. Paddy’s Day (or any other day).Irish soda breadWhen it comes to that cheerful and and somewhat magical celebration on March 17th, I think we all wish we had a wee bit of Irish in us. Wouldn’t it be fun to be part of a culture that includes leprechauns and shamrocks, Riverdance and jigs, misty green glens and mossy old castles, Irish bread and cheese and whiskey, blarney, and limericks, and the gift o’ the gab?

ruins at Glendalough

Ever since I discovered the joy of reading as a child, and transported myself to all the far off places hidden between the covers of books, I have wanted to visit Ireland. Raymond’s family has a good dose of Irish in their ancestry (which makes our children part Irish) so the pull has been even stronger to visit this stunningly beautiful country.

even in March there is a lot of green in the 'Emerald Isle'

even in March there is a lot of green in the ‘Emerald Isle’

Five years ago I spent a month in the British Isles visiting our daughter Olivia, who was spending a year in Ireland being a nanny to three small children.

feeding the ducks in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin

Olivia feeding the ducks with two of her young charges in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

We did a lot of walking and explored her home turf around Dún Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leary in that wonderful and confusing Irish language). The first day there I went for a long walk along the sea wall fronting Dublin Bay, gulping in great breaths of fresh sea air.

Howth Island, Dublin

walking the sea wall along Dublin Bay in Dhun Laoghaire (the island of Howth in the distance)

the climate is so mild in places that small palm trees can grow, in Dhun Laoghaire

the climate is so mild in places that small palm trees can grow, in Dhun Laoghaire

on a long afternoon's walk from Dhun Laoghaire to Dalkey

on a long afternoon’s walk from Dhun Laoghaire to Dalkey

fishermens' homes

fishing boats in Dhun Laoghaire

We visited the beautiful estate of Powerscourt, originally a 13th century castle and strolled around the spectacular grounds.

Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow, Ireland

the beautiful Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow

crocuses at Powerscourt

the crocuses are out

The bus to Galway travels right across Ireland from the east coast to the west, passing by castles, farms and villages. We spent a few days exploring the west coast of the Emerald Isle in County Clare.

castle ruins, Ireland

castle ruins, somewhere on the way from Dublin to Galway

street scene, Galway

street in Galway, early evening

Streets are cobbled, buildings filled with character, and the sea air rolls breezily through the town. The traditional pubs are lovely and dark and full of thick, old wood beams and tables. Galway is famous for its fresh oysters harvested right in the bay.

first taste of fresh oysters in Galway, 2010

Galway’s famous fresh oysters

colourful houses in Galway Bay

colourful houses in Galway

We headed down to The Burren to explore the desolate rolling hills of limestone paved with cracks and boulders.

limestone hills and stone fences of the Burren, south of Galway

limestone hills and stone fences of the Burren, south of Galway

Ireland, The Burren, cows in the field

the cows that produce the fantastic Irish milk and cheeses

Portal Tomb, Ireland, The Burren

the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, County Clare

Irish soda bread, signposts in the Burren

signposts in County Clare

Then on to the stunning heights of the Cliffs of Moher. Walk carefully near the edges . . .

Cliffs of Moher, O'Brien's Tower, County Clare on the west coast of Ireland,

Cliffs of Moher, O’Brien’s Tower, County Clare on the west coast of Ireland,

Irish soda bread, Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Cliffs of Moher

And back to Dún Laoghaire, with day trips on the speedy Dart train to poke around the shops, cozy little restaurants, and lovely sights of Dublin.

I love the brightly coloured doors everywhere in Ireland

I love the brightly coloured doors everywhere in Ireland

bridges over Liffey River, Dublin

there are many beautiful bridges over the River Liffey in Dublin

. . . or explore the surrounding area. We climbed to the top of Bray Head, in Bray. Spectacular views of the ocean and countryside.

Bray Head, Bray, Ireland

a local walking his dogs on Bray Head

Dun Loaghaire harbour gazebo

gazebo on the east pier at Dun Laoghaire harbour

little Geoff poking around in the tide pools at low tide

little Geoff poking around in the tide pools at low tide

I took a day trip by myself to visit the ancient ruined monastery at Glendalough in County Wicklow.

ruins at Glendalough, County Wicklow

monastery ruins at Glendalough, County Wicklow

Glendaough, Ireland

the cool foggy day made the ruins at Glendalough seem mystical

And best of all – the timing for my wonderful Irish adventure couldn’t have been better – I was in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day!

waiting for the St. Patrick's Day parade, Dublin

waiting for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Dublin

If you want to see a whole city full of green-bedecked revelers thronging the streets to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade – you need to get yourself to Dublin. The festive atmosphere and joyful Irish spirit swirls from person to person, old and young, transforming the city into one huge leprechaun party.

St. Patrick's Day, Dublin, Ireland,

the best vantage point for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Dublin

Irish soda bread, St. Patrick's Day parade, Dublin

a big Irish chicken float in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Dublin

Music, dancing, singing, and laughing thread through the crowds, and the merriment lasts long into the evening as the Guinness starts flowing and revelers pile shoulder to shoulder into every pub in Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

sit on the curb and drink a Guinness, and park your strollers outside the pub

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with great gusto and abandon in its country of origin.

Here is a recipe for a little taste of Ireland – Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread. Slather it with butter and enjoy a big slab of it on St. Paddy’s Day. Maybe a little leprechaun will grant you a wish.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: To make this bread vegan, use a chia egg (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds mixed into ¼ cup water and soaked for 5 minutes), melted coconut oil instead of butter, raw agave nectar instead of honey, and vegan yogurt and plant milk instead of dairy products. I’ve made it this way too, and it turned out well.

Sweet rice flour is different than regular white rice flour – it behaves more like a starch. It is made from glutinous rice (the name pertaining to the sticky nature of the rice – there’s no gluten in it) and is sometimes called ‘Mochiko’.

Irish soda bread

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread

  • 2 cups (210gms) gluten free oat flour
  • ½ cup (60gms) sorghum flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (100gms) potato starch (not potato flour)
  • ½ cup (80gms) sweet rice flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup (240ml) natural yogurt
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) milk
  • optional add-ins: 2 teaspoons caraway seeds or ½ cup dried currants

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 7″ or 8″ (18 – 20cm) round cake pan.

In a large bowl stir together the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, beat the egg, then add the rest of the liquid ingredients. Whisk to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until well combined. The dough should be soft and sticky, but firm enough to pat and shape into a rough ball with a silicone spatula. (If it’s too soft, add another tablespoon or two of potato starch.)

Irish soda bread

Using wet hands, lift the ball out of the bowl and shape it into a smooth 7 ” (18cm) ball. Place it into the prepared cake pan. Smooth out any uneven spots with wet fingers.

Dust the top lightly with potato starch, then cut a shallow cross shape into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.

Irish soda bread ready for the oven

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the loaf is brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Makes one 8-inch round loaf.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like (but please excuse the quality – they were my first posts and I’ve learned a lot since then!):

Irish Cheese Toasties

A Rainy Day and Bread


large leprechaun in Ireland

this leprechaun looks like he needs a touch of magic to make him smile

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7 Responses to Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread and a Visit to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day

  1. Mia says:

    OMG, you just made my morning! Thanks for such a wonderful trip to Ireland! I love Great Britain and always have wanted to visit Ireland, so this was a real treat for me.
    Also I love Irish soda bread and never succeeded in making it gluten free. As I happen to have finally found gf oat and sorghum flour in Germany, I will be able to make this one! Yay!

    • Margaret says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my pictures – going through them to pick some for the blog post made me wish so badly to be back in that wonderful Irish countryside. I hope you get to visit it one day. I hope you enjoy the bread – it is so good with a thick smear of butter. It’s always interesting to me how some products are so easy to find in one country and difficult in another. There are a lot of great products in Germany that we can’t get here, too (like your wonderful quark and other dairy products). Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you!

      • Mia says:

        Finally I made this bread, and it turned out so well! I used soy milk for the milk and followed the recipe to the letter. Great success!

        • Margaret says:

          That’s great to hear. Nothing beats a slice of fresh bread slathered with butter – it’s a treat that is sorely missed when you can’t eat gluten, isn’t it? Hope you’re having a wonderful summer.

  2. Jeanette says:

    Lovely pictures Margaret! never been to Ireland but felt that I nearly smelled the Ocean.

    • Margaret says:

      Thank you, Jeanette. It’s such a beautiful country and I feel like I only discovered a very small corner of it – I would love to go back again some day and explore the southern half of the beautiful island – and maybe take a cooking course there, too! So much to see – my bucket list keeps expanding!

  3. Jeanette says:

    Sounds lovely. I wish I had been there.

Comments are closed.