Finnegan, begin again.


Irish soda bread, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

I have so many Irish stories that I could sit here all day, telling them. That is one of my most enduring, favorite parts of the Irish people I met while I was in Ireland — the stories. They’re a nation full of storytellers, warm and open, hilarious and boisterous. I felt at home there.

Later, maybe tomorrow, I can fill this space with stories of driving across Ireland in a rented green car, of a St. Patrick’s Day parade in a tiny coastal village involving senior citizens dressed as Barbies, and playing on a softball team with Irish players, all of them smoking and not giving a rat’s arse about the game, just waiting for it all to be over so we could go back to the Broadway Dive, drink Guinness, and sing along to U2 as we sat on the barstools.

And then, there’s always James Joyce.

“And yes I said yes I will yes.”

But for now, I’m just going to share this recipe I concocted yesterday, based off a dozen recipes for Irish soda bread I’ve been studying the last few days. I’m making an Irish feast for friends tonight. I won’t be serving corned beef and cabbage. That’s just for Americans, the same ones who wear shamrock stickers on their cheeks and enormous green top hats. Instead, there will be whiskey cheddar cheese, a fresh herb salad, a lamb and beef stew, champ, and a strawberry pie. (That last one probably isn’t Irish, but it’s finally spring, and I want to celebrate.) We’ll be eating hunks of this bread with our cheese, laughing and telling stories.

Tomorrow, there will be more. Finnegan, begin again.

GLUTEN-FREE IRISH SODA BREAD
adapted from a Whole Foods recipe

I may not have eaten corned beef and cabbage in Ireland, but I certainly had my share of soda bread. Dense and flaky at the same time, slightly sweet and the perfect bread for crumbly cheddar cheese, this gluten-free soda bread tastes a little like a big scone, and a lot like home.

one cup sweet rice flour
three-quarter cup teff flour
one-quarter cup tapioca flour
one tablespoon sugar
one teaspoon xanthan gum
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder

one cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for fifteen minutes
one cup buttermilk
six tablespoons butter, melted
one egg

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a small souffle dish for a round loaf or nine-by-five-by-three-inch loaf pan (the standard size) for a square loaf.

Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir them together until you have a consistent mixture.

In a second, smaller bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Make a small well in the dry ingredients, then slowly pour the wet ingredients into the well, then stir until just combined. The dough will be quite sticky, but it should not be too dry.

Form the dough into the shape you desire, then place it in the baking pan. Bake for thirty minutes or so, or until a butter knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

20 comments on “Finnegan, begin again.

  1. Tea

    Oh Shauna, I was making my own soda bread this morning and wondering if it could be made gluten-free.

    Your dinner sounds lovely, my dear. And I’m looking forward to many more stories.

  2. Kate

    beautiful picture! I posted about my soda bread, too (though it’s not gluten-free, by any means =).

    I loved the McDonald’s post, too–what a traumatic place. I live right by that one you mentioned on 4th St. in NYC, but i’ve never been…ew!

  3. Kerry Maureen

    My sister just found out that gluten might be her problem. So we’re trying to go without for a while, but it’s been hard to find food that way. Thanks for the recipes, links, words, and a really cool site in general! ;)

  4. Anonymous

    Hi Shauna,

    I’m Irish and living in the West of Ireland have been reading your Blog for a few months now as I was diagnosed with CD last November. Your Blog has been of great interest and help to me, you are doing a wonderful job. Just thought it was appropriate to leave my first comment with the Irish connection going on.….
    Anne
    e-mail: danarron@eircom.net

  5. beastmomma

    I could not find the “contact me” link on the side. Maybe you do not have one. That is why this comment will seem so random. I am contemplating a move to Seattle and wanted to get your perspective on the city. I know that you love it, but I wanted some specifics. Ummmm.… now how to get in touch? My contact me information is on my blog. Maybe that would work.

  6. Shauna

    Tea–

    Your bread looked fabulous, so much better than that commercial one that was so highly touted. Home bakers unite! Oh, and there are always stories, of course.

  7. Shauna

    Karina:

    Oh, you must try teff. There’s nothing like it. It’s soft and silky, packed with iron, and it makes gluten-free baked goods heavenly.

    Kate:

    Your Irish soda bread looked lovely. So much better than anything at McDonalds! Thanks for stopping by.

    Kerry Maureen:

    Thank you my dear. I’m glad this site is helping. It feels overwhelming at first, but it’s so much easier than it seems at first. It’s just about good food that you make at home. And a few choice restaurants.

    Anne:

    Oh, I“m so happy to here from an Irish reader! Thrilled that the site is helping you, even though you are on the other side of the Atlantic. And that’s a beautiful part of the country you are living in.

    Beastmomma:

    Come to Seattle! (You and I have already started emailing of course, but I’ll say it again.) And for anyone who is wondering, my email address is in the profile section in the right-hand corner of the site. I’m always happy to here from readers.

    Nic:

    Thank you, my dear. That’s a high compliment indeed, coming from you. Your traditional Irish soda bread was just gorgeous!

  8. Anonymous

    Shauna,
    Thanks so much. Your sharing, your recipes, are an inspiration! I learned how to make Irish Soda Bread from my 2nd Grade Teacher, Mrs. Ryan. I haven’t made or had any since I discovered I have a wheat allergy — I can’t wait to try this recipe!
    THANKS! Oh, and I met my love on Match too.. isn’t YES just such a wonderful word??? Thanks for sharing your happiness–
    Erica

  9. Tara

    I tried this recipe and it was so delicious. I was very hesitant because I’ve been using my mom’s recipe (she’s from Swanlinbar, County Cavan) and I’ve tried a lot of soda bread that doesn’t taste like soda bread. My husband has a wheat allergy and we were both thrilled to be able to make soda bread again! I can’t thank you enough. I did have one little problem with it turning out a little more crumbly than usual. I made peanut butter cookies with teff flour at the same time and had the same crumbly problem with those so I’m thinking I’m having some kind of teff flour baking deficiency. Any ideas? I adore your blog and your book– a million thanks again.

  10. corithedoula

    Shauna,
    We have the unfortunate problem of also being dairy free. Although so far eggs don’t seem to be a problem. What would you suggest as a substitute for the buttermilk?
    Cori

  11. Lori Ann

    Hi Shauna,

    I was looking for just this recipe. I used the Pamela’s Bread mix instead of making my own, and it worked beautifully. Thank you for putting this out there so I knew it could be done.

    Lori Ann

  12. Stephanie

    If you are looking for a dairy free alternative for buttermilk — you can always ame your own. I’ve used it many many times for recipes (although I have not tried it with this one).
    I use almond millk. So, here’s the recipe: one cup almond milk — minus one tablespoon. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice. Let sit for 10 minutes before use.

  13. Rose

    Shauna:
    I have a traditional, researched awesome Irish cookbook I found used on Amazon. They have a wonderful recipe for soda bread made from oat flour and regular white flour. The traditional recipe says to let the bread dough sit in the fridge overnight. I’ve made both ways, overnight and quickly. The flavor changes from blah to WOWOMG! when it sits overnight; maybe it’s something to do with what the buttermilk does to the flour. I’m wondering if you think that using the overnight technique might work with your recipe or if the different flours might screw it up? — Rose

  14. Niamh

    Irish soda bread! Yay! I grew up in Ireland and moved to Vashon four years ago. I am so glad to have found your blog as I have been gluten free for about a year now. I heard you on KUOW the other day and looked up your blog.
    Your recipes are wonderful. thanks!

  15. marie

    Dear Shauna,
    What a joy to discover your blog.
    Both my daughter and I are Gluten intloerant. I am an Irish woman living in Barbados in the West Indies and I have recently discovered an GF recipe for Soda Bread which is a little different to yours. I’m not quite sure what teff is , got to check that out…
    Your writing is is very lyrical and relaxed ( sounds like an Irish
    Gal!!). i especially love your musings on your husband and daughter, you have given me a little hope today…Love doesn’t always have to have an un-happy ending. I’m looking forward to getting to know you in your blog
    Marie

  16. sarahbrownekitchengarden

    Hi Shauna
    I love your blog — just getting into this world myself and was delighted to see your recipe for Irish soda bread and good Irish experience!
    I’m running a gluten-free baking course this weekend and look forward to telling all those attending about your blog and book. Tried to order it on Amazon UK the other day but I’m a bit too early.
    Such fantastic work you’ve put in.
    All the best & be seeing you again,
    Sarah Browne

  17. Vita

    Hey, Shauna! Made this yesterday for some family from Galway! HUGE HIT, and I was assured it was the Real Deal! Apparently my cousin Maeve won’t even eat her own mother’s brown bread, but scoffed this down! Interestingly, they all remarked that even after the rather monstrously huge brunch they had with us, they didn’t feel bloated or uncomfortable. I expect because our meal didn’t feature gluten, and after all, we ARE related, albeit not closely (2nd cousins). The whole family is probably sensitive to wheat! Anyway, thanks for the great recipe! (BTW, I used my own baking mix, instead of just rice flour: rice, oat and tapioca, though I used the full amount of teff called for.) DELICIOUS!!