Irish soda bread buns

Irish soda bread buns

So we’re back from Arizona for less than 24 hours. The suitcases are spilling clothes, the living room is cluttered with opened books and toddler shoes, and the refrigerator needs cleaning. Besides that fact, I didn’t touch the computer for longer than 10 minutes while we were away, spending most of the day sitting on the back patio in 73° weather, sipping iced tea while watching Little Bean playing in the backyard gravel. (I had no idea a kid could be this excited about rocks.) This was utterly lovely in the moment.

The moments at home, realizing how much work I have to do after 5 days away? Not so much.

So I should have chained myself to this beast of a machine and not released myself until those blue-pen items on the long to-do list were crossed off with a flourish. Did I do that?

“What should I bake?” I wrote on Twitter.

Aside from all else, I missed baking. Turns out that baking every day with my daughter is one of the best places of peace I know. We stand in front of the large bay window, she drawing with crayons and trying to reach the buttons on the kitchen scale. We talk and giggle, listen to music, and watch something new form from humble ingredients. Five days away from the counter felt far worse than five days away from the computer.

The answers came in. Everyone wanted something different: chocolate cake, Boston cream pie, potato bread. All on the list. But I wanted something new, something for this day, today.

Irish Soda Bread. They started pouring in. Oh right. Today’s St. Patrick’s Day.

Now I have to tell you, my definition of St. Patrick’s Day in this country is pretty pithy: green beer, green plastic hats, green vomit. For those reasons, I normally ignore it.

But St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, in 1999, in a tiny town on the cliffs of the west country, with my best friend Sharon, the two of us standing in the crowd cheering on the locals in flatbread truck floats as they walked the parade? That was one of the best moments we’ve ever shared.

(And of course, I meant flatbed trucks. But I’m leaving it. Thanks to Jess for pointing out that typo.)

And the Aherns? Well, pure Irish, of course. We had to celebrate somehow.

Someone suggested this, from Deb of Smitten Kitchen: Irish soda bread scones. Not only do I adore Deb as a person, but I trust her recipes. They always work. And she’s starting to list ingredients in grams!

Done.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. Try not to vomit green into fountains. Have some lovely soda bread buns, instead.

Irish Soda Bread Buns, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

These are heaven. They’re soft, exactly what I wanted. It’s hard to imagine that gluten-free buns could be more tender than the originals, but from Deb’s description, I think they are.

“On day one, they’ve got a craggy crust and a warm, plush interior; they love butter and you love them. On day two, they have a density, especially when your big toe breaks their fall, that could threaten your efforts to reign in your foul language now that tiny, impressionable ears linger about.”

(I love her.)

These are actually plush, pull-apart little loaves of bread. I’m happy enough with them that I’m using these recipe as the template for creating the cinnamon raisin bread I have been craving. You might see that here soon. In the meantime, pull out your kitchen scale and start making these.

20 ounces gluten-free flours (I used equal parts almond flour, super-fine brown rice flour, millet flour, sweet rice flour, and potato starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
2 1/2 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 softened, 1 melted)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I actually used rice milk for this, making my own buttermilk)
2 eggs
1 cup dried fruit (this was Turkish apricots, but currants are traditional)

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 400°. If you have a baking stone, make sure it’s in the oven. Pull that scale out of the drawer.

Combining the dry ingredients. Mix the gluten-free flours you are using, the sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a food processor. (Of course, if you don’t have one, just use a whisk. Mixing the flours together makes a big difference in the baking.) When the flours have become one color, you’re done.

Mixing in the butter. Drop the softened butter into the mixed flours and pulse the food processor a few times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (Again, you can do this in a large bowl as well, with a pastry blender or your fingers.)

Making the dough. At this point, if you have been using a food processor, dump the flours into a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Combine the buttermilk and eggs. Pour the liquids liquid into the well and stir them together with a rubber spatula. When the dough is cohesive but still shaggy, stop.

Baking the buns. Now, at this point, if you are more precise than I am, you will cut the shaggy dough into 8 even pieces and roll each one of them into a ball. Me? I just grabbed softball-size pieces of dough, making sure my hands were a little damp with water, and rolled them into large balls. Or, you might like small rolls instead of mini loaves. In that case, go for 16 pieces here.

If you have a baking stone, put the buns directly onto the baking stone. They will bake beautifully here. If you don’t have a baking stone (and we did not before last week), put the buns onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or Silpat) and slide it into the oven.

After about 5 minutes of baking, open the oven door. The wet dough will be hardened enough for you to slash a slice (or cut a cross) across the top of each roll. If you wish, you can also spread a bit of melted butter on the top of each roll. Close the oven door and keep baking.

The length of time it takes to bake these will depend on how big the rolls are. Mine were softball size, and they took about 20 minutes. Can you insert a skewer or toothpick into the center of the roll and have it come out clean? Are the tops nicely browned? Then you’re done.

Makes 8 mini loaves or 16 small buns.

43 comments on “Irish soda bread buns

  1. Laurie!

    I just told my Irish (and Italian) husband about this and he got very excited. Thanks for posting!

  2. Lauren

    They’re beautiful! St. Patrick’s Day is one I never ignore, because it’s my brother’s birthday =D. Thats always reason to celebrate!

  3. Gluten Free Crumpette

    These look great! I can’t wait to make them. It looks like an easy enough recipe too. Thanks for another great post! Happy St. Pattys!

  4. Cindy

    Mmmmmm…soda bread. I’m heading to the kitchen to make some for tonight’s dinner along with some gf oatmeal cookies for dessert.

    Glad you enjoyed your time in the sun. I’m looking forward to the almost warm weather predicted for this weekend here in Bellingham.

    Cindy
    http://www.wheatlessfoodie.blogspot.com

  5. Maeve

    I know I’m probably the voice of dissent (or just lazyness), but I don’t bake enough to have a scale in my kitchen. Could you estimate your weight in volume? I’d guess at 3–4 cups, but my luck at baking is bad enough I shouldn’t guesstimate without a bit of help.

  6. Patty

    Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I’m definitely skipping the “everything green” this year, thanks for the soda bread recipe I can’t wait to try it out!

  7. Maeve

    @Tiffany — Ooh, they have things like rice flour in there. That’s great. I assumed most online conversions wouldn’t take into account the disparity in weight/density of all our crazy flours. ;) Thanks for the link.

  8. Andrea

    I am not much of a gluten-free baker. I am still a little afraid of xantham gum. (And its price tag!)

    But, these, I will make. Immediately. They look delicious.
    Thanks!

  9. Jess

    Hooray, you’re leaving it! Good woman. I’ll take a flatbread over a flatbed any day. Best. typo. ever. xo.

  10. B.

    I love soda bread; my Irish bff’s dad made it for us recently and I loved it but he would not part with the recipe…now I have yours!

    Thanks and Happy St. Paddy’s day!

  11. colette

    they are in the oven now, can’t wait to try them!

    maeve, I’m pretty sure 20 oz is equivalent to 2 1/2 cups. That’s what I used anyway.

  12. Allison the Meep

    Eeee!! These sound crazy good. I need to suck it up and invest in a kitchen scale already so I can start kicking ass in the kitchen with you.

  13. Emily

    I was literally just on Deb’s site, thinking, “I need to convert these,” when I clicked over to yours to see what you’re up to.

    Will you be my best friend? :)

    Thank you!!

  14. I Am Gluten Free

    I love that you made your own buttermilk with rice milk! Hope to meet you at the Blogher conference — I’m so psyched to be attending. Can’t wait to try this recipe — wonder if it would work with egg replacer or flax eggs???? Hmmm, will give it a try.

  15. my spatula

    happy st. patty’s day!! woot-woot! we are polishing off our brown bread as i speak.

  16. Sirena

    OOoooo Shauna — now this is an effing coup (since it’s St. Patty’s day, may I use the colorful language?). How amazing to see this recipe on your site! I love how you make “the moment” happen for GF peeps everywhere — no matter the holiday! You are, and remain, the bomb.

  17. Sirena

    I also wanted to add that, I cook with gluten in our home (I hope this doesn’t mean I can’t read your amazing site!), and can’t imagine working without our digital scale. And the thought of doing so GF with the careful measuring of flours with varying densities? Eeek. I cannot.

    May I just recommend the digital scale? It brings a lot to the table, all the way around!

  18. Valerie

    baking stone… please let us know how it works out. i’m desperate for crusty bread and the pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven still isn’t making it happen. thanks for your tireless efforts …

  19. La Niña

    Okay. Confession: I baked Irish Soda Bread with my best friend Kara Phelan, and her grandmother, who was off the boat from County Cork, Mrs. Donnelly taught us one hilarious and tragic day when we were growing up in Rego Park, Queens.

    We baked a lead weight. I think it had five inches of crust, and there was a tiny, marble-sized center of soda bread. I’ve never attempted it since.

    Booth is Irish-Welsh… so maybe I have to get over my fear. Maybe this time it will work. If only I had some cream of tartar. Just what is that, anyway? Sounds like what they scrape off your teeth.

    Welcome home and don’t worry, things will get done when they need to. Or not.

  20. Ellie White-Stevens

    This recipe looked like what I wanted to eat today in honor of St. Paddy’s day. Thank you for the post. I have a question–I’m somewhat new to recipe baking gluten free. I tried mixes without much love, and finally began using teff flour and Bob’s after your post on the chocolate banana bread. It was wonderful. Do you have a list of flours that you recommend the most for a small investment in my stock? I’m loving the teff texture and flavor. Do you keep these refrigerated? THANKS!

    Ellie
    ellie@everellie.com

  21. Lori

    Good morning. I LOVE reading your blog but rarely comment for some reason. Think I must feel as if I’m not “chef worthy.” lol Anyway, I just gave you a little plug on my blog this morning with tons of links back to your site and a photo (linked, of course). If this is not ok, please let me know.

    Thanks so much and have a great day.

  22. Stephanie

    Really no xanthan gum? Cool.

    You and Deb are a fabulous pair for figuring out good baking! I love your collaborations. Thanks!

    A restaurant in my home town used to make Irish Soda bread for their bread baskets, year round. I loved the stuff, but it’s the only one I ever tried. Made a wheat-free one last year that was okay, but dry. I’ll have to try yours! I know the day has passed, but it never *had* to be St. Patrick’s Day for the restaurant, so why for me?!

  23. bigjobsboard

    Thanks for posting this. I am really getting excited about trying this one! Thanks a lot. Looks yummy too!

  24. Shauna

    Thanks, everyone. The buns are gone in our kitchen. Little Bean ate them up!

    Laurie, I’m so glad to have made your husband excited about eating this.

    Lauren, happy birthday to your brother!

    Gluten-Free Crumpette, once you start baking, all these recipes feel pretty easy.

    Cindy, warm weather here will be much welcomed.

    Maeve, I understand the resistance. I resisted for ages. But weighing the flours makes a huge difference. I’m very glad that Tiffany posted the conversion chart. (Thanks, Tiffany!) I’m going to do a post about this soon. But I have to warn you that just putting in 3 or 4 cups of flour won’t give you the same effect at all. Each of the gluten-free flours has a different weight. I’m convinced this is why most gluten-free baked goods are so poor!

    Patty, you have the Irish name, though!

    Andrea, don’t be afraid of xanthan gum. It’s just new. And you use so little of it for every recipe that that it doesn’t cost much in the end.

    Jess, how can I resist? I love anyone who loves a good typo.

    B, soda bread is so easy to make in comparison to yeast bread. go bake!

    Colette, I hope they worked out for you.

    Allison, if you had a kitchen scale, you’d kick my ass in the kitchen!

    Emily, sure!

    Ellen, we’re going to BlogHer! We can’t wait to finally meet you. (And I’ve been playing with alternate milks a lot lately.)

    my spatula, woot woot indeed!

    Sirena, the language is more than warranted on such a day. Hope it was effing great for you! (and thanks for the plug for the scale. it makes such a huge difference!)

    Valerie, the baking stone is utterly worth it. you should see the pizza we made last night. wow.

    Nina, as always, I adore you.

    Ellie, thanks for the question. I’m working on a big post about baking by weight and the different flours. soon!

    Lori, thanks for commenting. come by any time! there’s no need to be shy around here.

    Stephanie, oh shoot! I’m sorry to get your hopes up, but your comment reminded me I had left them out. (I was typing by the list I had made from Deb’s recipe, of course.) However, I think this recipe might just work without them, if you want to try it.

  25. Sho

    Shauna,

    You know, I was surprised when I found out that tartar sauce did not contain cream of tartar. Does anyone here know what cream of tartar adds to in baking? All I know (now) is that it is a byproduct of winemaking.

    You would think that challah is my favorite bread, but it is not. I have always liked crusty, savory, or biscuity types. I don’t even remember what Irish soda bread tastes like, but the recipe looks great.

    But I did make corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot yesterday! And DO NOT CYBER PINCH ME because I wore a green shirt!

    Take care,

    Shoshannah

  26. Hannah

    I just had a moment of “irish soda bread? mmm, delicicous, I miss it, too bad I can’t eat it…”

    And then I remembered what site I was on!!

    Shauna, your baking gives me hope (and saves me what would certainly be many failed experiments in the search for a GF version of favorites!)

  27. Tara

    There seems to be lots of soda bread going around this year! I made some as well, based partly on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, plus some others I came across. I don’t know why I’ve never made it before — it’s so easy!

    Your recipe looks great. Where are you getting millet flour from? I’ve tried grinding my own, but can never seem to get it fine enough …

    Tara
    http://abakinglife.blogspot.com

  28. Franklin

    Thanks for sharing the Irish soda buns! I’m going to try them next week when we have another family dinner.

  29. Melissa

    I just finished baking these buns. They turned out very well. My house is filled with the lovely aroma of baked bread, I love that. I also am very impressed with the way they turned out. I forgot to melt the butter to put on top after the five minutes — next time.
    I switched up the flours and used kefir instead of buttermilk, used raisins and added cinnamon — I’ve really been wanting some cinnamon raisin bread.

    Super easy recipe!

    Thanks for posting it! Will definitely make these again.

  30. Teresa Rieke

    i am excited to try this recipe! i can’t have yeast so if i like this recipe it will be St. Patty’s Day all year! i was also enlightened after reading the post about getting a scale. i can see how the recipes will turn out so different using all the different flours. i am definitely going to buy a scale. The only problem will be trying to convert the recipes that don’t weigh their flours. thanks so much!

  31. Jenny

    I made these last night with not much success. I followed all of the measurments, but my dough was very wet. I was afraid to add more flour since I was trying to follow the recipe and didn’t want to throw it off, so I baked some irish soda pancakes. :(

  32. Jenny

    It’s haunting me, but I think I may know some of the reasons why my soda bread rolls didn’t turn out. (yes, there is more than one reason) 1. when I copy/pasted the recipe to print, Xanthan & Guar gum ingredients were deleted..? I cannot figure out how this happend, but they are not on my printed recipe and the ARE on your blog post. 2. I have replaced my baking powder– it was expired. 3. I may have melted the butter too much. That’s all I can figure for now. I may try again next St. Patty’s day, but for now I’m going to focus on other recipes! :)

  33. Anonymous

    Can’t wait to try these. I have been making a dark scone based on your Irish soda bread recipe for a while. I use a mix of teff, ground flax, and almond flour which turns out great. Now that I have diabetes in addition to Celiac I have to limit my carbs, and that is a whole new adventure in baking!

  34. Cassie

    This is the first gluten-free thing I tried to bake just because I wanted something tasty. Usually, I choose things because they are healthy (gluten free, of course, plus whole grains, no sugar, lots of vitamins, etc.). But after a few months gluten-free, I wanted soft dough. I wanted deliciousness. So I made these. They were wonderful. Even a non-gluten-free friend said they were great.

    I can’t wait to see your recipes for pizza! That, I miss a lot. I tried a mix, but no luck. Patience.

  35. Carrie

    Well,I’ll try this tomorrow.adding a bit of cinnamon and using raisins — is it still Irish Soda Bread if I do that? Plus I’ll have to use something other than the almond flour, since I’m allergic to almonds.

  36. Becky

    Wow, I have diabetes in addition to Celiac I have to limit my carbs, and that is a whole new adventure in baking!

  37. Sadie

    Thank you for the post. I have a question–I’m somewhat new to recipe baking gluten free. I tried mixes without much love, and finally began using teff flour and Bob’s after your post on the chocolate banana bread.

  38. Blooming Tea

    Those are beautiful and looks delicious. Is it ok to use walnut instead? By the way, this is my first visit to your lovely blog. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the links. Jenny@ bloomingteasite