Gluten-free bread doesn’t rock my world in the slightest. It’s gritty, grainy and dry. It’s everything a loaf shouldn’t be and that makes me sad. However, I recently visited family in Ireland (stopping off to see Phil Collins in concert along the way too, which was freakin’ awesome!!!) and after a delicious breakfast of traditional Irish toasted soda bread with butter and jam I realised that I could abandon my yeast-based attempts at making a gluten-free loaf and focus instead on making a bicarbonate of soda based oat bread.
My previous attempts at making gluten-free bread have produced somewhat mixed results. I think this is because gluten-free flour tends to be very dry and produces a really dense crumb when baked into a loaf. However, this gluten-free soda bread incorporates oat flour, which I simply made by blitzing some oats in my food processor, which helps to add a lightness to the loaf and enhances the texture of the bread.
Although soda-based loaves are found in the history of many countries, in times gone by, a soda bread loaf was traditionally freshly made every morning by Scottish and Irish women because it’s really quick to produce. Instead of using yeast which takes a long time to prove, soda bread uses alkaline sodium bicarbonate as its raising agent which is activated by acidic buttermilk (or in this case lemon juice) to produce carbon dioxide bubbles which make the bread rise. This results in a robust, but flavoursome loaf which is gorgeous when spread with fresh butter.
This recipe is just for making a standard plain gluten-free soda bread, but you could easily incorporate raisins, dried cranberries or different types of nut into the base bread mix to produce a variety of loaves. I’ll bet a soda bread made with plump little raisins and crunchy walnuts would be outstanding!
The gluten-free soda bread produced by this recipe is soft, but substantial and is surrounded by a lovely golden crunchy crust, while its interior crumb is moist and has a faintly nutty flavour from the oat flour. It’s practically begging to be sliced while still warm and coated in butter and generously topped with good quality jam.
100g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
200ml milk (or rice milk)
2 tbsps lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425F/gas mark 7 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Pour the milk into a jug and add the lemon juice.
Place all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well.
Once the milk has curdled and become thick add it to the dry ingredients and stir until it starts to come together.
Get your hands into the bowl and continue mixing it until it forms a ball.
Place it on the baking tray and flatten slightly before scoring it with a cross and baking for 35 mins.
Turn it over and bake for about another 10 mins. You’ll know it’s cooked when the base sounds hollow when tapped.
Leave to cool slightly before serving.