This soda bread is afar cry from the crumbly, dry offerings celiacs considered to be bread in the past! If you make a loaf especially for bread crumbs, you could freeze batches for future use.
- 2¼ cups rice flour
- 1 cup (4oz) tapioca flour
- ½ cup (2oz) dried milk
- 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
- 1 heaped teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaped teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1 egg. preferably free range, lightly beaten
- 1¼-1 1/3 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Sift all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Mix well by lifting the dry ingredients up into your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore hopefully more lightness to your finished bread. Lightly whisk the egg and buttermilk together. Make a well in the center and pour in most of the egg and buttermilk at once. Using one hand, with your fingers stiff and outstretched (like a claw!), stir in a full circular movement from the center to the outside of the bowl in ever increasing circles, adding a little more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky.
The trick with white soda bread is not to over-mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and as gently as possible, thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a rice-floured work surface.
Wash and dry your hands. With rice floured fingers, roll lightly for a few seconds—just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round, pressing it to about 2in height. Place the dough on a baking sheet dusted lightly with rice flour. With a sharp knife cut a deep cross in it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with a knife at four angles which, according to Irish folklore, is to let the fairies out!
Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F for a further 25-30 minutes or until cooked. If in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked, it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.
Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smear with butter and homemade jam.
Spotted Dog: This is called railway cake in some parts of Ireland: “a currant for each station.”
Follow the master recipe, adding: ¾ cup (4oz) golden raisins to the dry ingredients. Serve with butter and raspberry jam; it is also delicious eaten with cheese.
White Soda Bread with Herbs
Follow the master recipe, adding 1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, parsley, or lemon balm) to the dry ingredients.
White Soda Bread with Cumin
Follow the master recipe, adding 1-2 tablespoons freshly roasted cumin seeds to the flour.
If you like caraway seeds, this variation is a must and is delicious served for afternoon tea. Follow the master recipe, adding 1 tablespoon sugar and 2-3 teaspoons carawayseeds to the dry ingredients.
This recipe serves 12.