Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Recipe of the month – March
Simple (gluten free) Irish Soda Bread Recipe

This recipe can be found on page 200 of the book “Is Food Making You Sick? The Strictly Low Histamine Diet” by James L. Gibb

Soda bread (Irish: arán sóide, Scots: fardel) is a quickly-made bread traditional to many cuisines; most famously, Irish and Scots. It gets its English name from the fact that it’s made using sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda) as a leavening agent, instead of yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. If you use non-dairy buttermilk (see below) the ascorbic acid or tartaric acid has the same effect.


500g (17.5 ounces) plain, all-purpose gluten free flour, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
310ml (10 fluid ounces) buttermilk [see below]
rice bran oil spray


  • Preheat oven to 200° C (400° F). Grease a baking tray with rice bran oil spray.
  • Sift flour, bicarb soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk.
  • With a wooden spoon, gently stir the ingredients until they are well mixed and form a soft dough.
  • Wet your hands with cold water to stop the dough from sticking to them. Scrape the dough together with your fingers, then tip it out onto a clean surface such as a large wooden chopping board, sprinkled lightly with flour. Lightly knead it until it is smooth and shape it into a sphere.
  • Put dough on baking tray and flatten it a little to form a round, domed loaf about 19 cm (7.5 inches) in diameter.
  • Take a sharp knife and cut a deep cross in the top, slicing half-way down into the dough. Sprinkle extra flour over the top.
  • Place tray in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf has risen well, the top is brown and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it. If it seems undercooked, give it another 3–5 minutes in the oven and then test again.
  • When baked, remove loaf from oven and place on a wire rack. Allow it to cool thoroughly before cutting slices.

Serve as an accompaniment to soups and stews.
Use bread on the day it is baked. Soda bread is delicious when fresh, but becomes stale quite rapidly. If this happens, simply  toast it. It is best stored sliced, in the freezer.
Serves: 8


Uncultured Dairy Buttermilk
In the USA, cultured, thick milk is commonly called ‘buttermilk’—however that is something of a misnomer. True buttermilk is made by churning fresh cream to separate out the fat solids. The result is butter on the one hand, and low-fat milk on the other.
Buttermilk is more easily digestible than whole milk and has less fat. It is also preferred, by many cooks, for baking—especially for pancakes. People on a low histamine diet should avoid cultured products, but if you cannot buy true buttermilk at your grocery store, what’s the solution? Some cookbooks suggest adding lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk to create buttermilk; however neither of these additives is safe for HIT sufferers.
Another alternative is to whisk together 1 cup skim milk with one and three-quarters tablespoons of cream of tartar. Allow the milk to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes and stir before you use it.

Recipe for uncultured dairy buttermilk:

  • Pour 2 cups of fresh dairy cream into the bowl of your food processor (or 4 cups if you have a machine with at least 11-cup capacity). Leave the rest in the refrigerator.
  • Begin processing and watch closely as the cream thickens and whips. It may take quite some time. Gradually the cream will start to look less pale. When you see it breaking into tiny yellowish lumps, proceed with caution until you can see that the cream has definitely separated into cloudy buttermilk and clumps of yellow butter.
  • Place a strainer over a chilled bowl and pour through the contents of the processor, scraping out any sticky butter particles with a rubber spatula. Repeat the entire procedure with the other half of the cream. You now have around 2 cups of buttermilk!
  • Pour the strained buttermilk into a storage container and store it  in the refrigerator.

You also have about a cup of unsalted butter. Your strainer will be filled with small lumps of it.

  • Turn the contents out into a bowl and work the butter into one big lump with a strong wooden spoon. Drain off as much liquid as possible and continue working the butter. As the butterfat comes together it will turn into a smooth, shiny mass.
  • When no more liquid emerges, pat the butter dry with paper towels, place it into an airtight container and refrigerate it.

Recipe for dairy free buttermilk:

  • 1 tablespoon L-ascorbic acid powder or Cream of Tartar (or less, according to your taste).
  • sufficient non-dairy, non-soy milk (e.g. almond, brown rice or coconut) to make up to 1 cup

Place ascorbic acid powder or Cream of Tartar in a measuring cup. Add enough non-dairy milk of your choice to make up to one cup. Whisk to combine.
Allow mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes before using. The acid adds a flavor reminiscent of buttermilk.


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