Irish soda bread gets the most love stateside around St. Patrick's Day, but there's no reason (other than tradition) for it to be relegated to a single day each year. It's a rare bread in that it utilizes baking soda as a raising agent instead of yeast. It's worth noting, however, that the Irish did not invent this process. Some say it was borrowed from the Americans—more specifically, the Native Americans.
However it came to be, soda bread showed up in Ireland in the early 1800's, born out of necessity at a time when both ovens and yeast were scarce; it can be made on an open hearth. What continues to be great about it now, especially when compared to traditional breads, is that it's quick and easy to bake. And while the most traditional version of this recipe is plain, it's also super versatile in terms of add-in ingredients and can be made either sweet or savory as a result. You can throw in basically anything you'd like, from nuts to protein powder to dried fruits to seeds to chocolate to cheese, and more. And as an added bonus, it can be made gluten-free by subbing alternative flours in for white flour.
As such, it can make for the perfect grab-and-go brekkie, topped with some melted butter (vegan or dairy) and potentially jam or whatever makes the most sense based on the direction you take your optional ingredients.
Elana Amsterdam, founder of Elana's Pantry and author of multiple cookbooks including Gluten-Free Cupcakes, Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry, and The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, shares her take on Irish soda bread below. It utilizes almond flour, which serves to make the recipe not only gluten-free but packed with protein, too. Bake it to take to your (small, outdoor) St. Patrick's Day gathering, as it'll offer a nice base upon which to pour those aforementioned famed Irish spirits in celebration of a holiday much missed in 2020.
2¾ cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
¼ tsp celtic sea salt
1½ tsp baking soda
½ cup raisins
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 pinch caraway seeds
1. In a large bowl combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, and raisins.
2. In a small bowl combine eggs, honey, and apple cider vinegar.
3. Mix wet ingredients into dry.
4. Place dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
5. Form into a large flat circle around 8-inches across and 1½-inches tall.
6. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough ½-inch deep, in shape of a cross.
7. Sprinkle top of bread with caraway seeds.
8. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, then turn off oven and leave bread in for 10 minutes.
9. Cool for one hour.
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