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Fat-Free, Melamine-Free, Very Easy Irish Soda Bread

May 11, 2007


This melamine thing has my husband and me on kind of a jag about avoiding unnecessary gluten introduced into food. It’s been an extra chore to read through the labels and try to divine whether “processed grain by-products” and “enriched wheat products” harbor melamine-contaminated Chinese gluten. Since most added gluten comes from China, it seemed best to us to avoid mass-produced wheat-containing food.

My husband raised wheat in one of his erstwhile existences, and I know how badly he’d like to plow up our urban quarter acre and raise it again. But for the sake of practicality and neighborhood comity, I thought I could just make bread from ordinary (not enriched) commercial flour, at least for now.

Yeast breads take time to rise and require kneading that is disagreeable to my back. This led to the quest for the perfect Irish soda bread, something I have had and enjoyed. My husband found the really perfect recipe, because this one contains no buttermilk, which my system insists is pathogenic.  We adapted it further into this version.

Baking soda is as effective a leaven as yeast, but doesn’t have the sweet taste yeast imparts; instead, it has a pleasant sodic taste. For people with health issues that make yeast problematic, soda breads are perfect. I like them because they are easiest on my stomach. I tried to research the virtues of various leavens, and I learned something about myself: I have no interest in food science.

And so I made a loaf of this traditional Irish soda bread, and it was so simple that I thought I was getting away with something, so I made another while it was in the oven and still had lots of time to read and write emails before it came out. First I made the original white version, then I became very bold and invented the black version. Both passed my own taste tests with flying colors.

Irish Soda Bread–White Version


4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1-3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Stir; it very quickly becomes dough. Form a round loaf. Place on greased baking sheet. Cut slits in top. Bake 40 minutes at 400° F.

Black Version

Same as above, but use 3 cups white flour and 1 cup of any dark or whole wheat flour. I used dark rye. Use cooled black tea in place of water. Irish Breakfast comes to mind.

Note: In deference to my Orangeman spiritual ancestors, next Friday I’ll post my Scottish Oat Cakes recipe.

  1. May 11, 2007 12:33 pm

    Very nice. I was wondering how they would turn out.

  2. May 11, 2007 12:55 pm

    Not to mention the dent it made in our 10-pound bag of baking soda.

    Speaking of which, one of our friends asked me whether baking powder could be substituted for baking soda if one wished to reduce the sodic taste. Unfortunately, no. This is the only amazing fact I actually did take away from my leaven research foray. Not only are baking powder and baking soda not interchangeable, but substituting one for the other is the leading cause of baking failure. Quel horreur. In my case, the leading cause of baking failure is forgetting to set the timer and forgetting there’s something in the oven.

  3. Paul permalink
    October 29, 2009 6:54 pm

    Thank you for simple recipe, work great

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