Fruity Nutty Soda Bread

Fruity Nutty Soda Bread. Gluten-free.

True Irish soda bread is a simple thing. Brown or white, it is made with just four ingredients – flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. If it has eggs, butter and sugar added it is called cake, not soda bread. If it has currants or other goodies added to it, it is a celebration bread.

But everyday ordinary brown soda bread is eaten with lots of butter slathered on top – my kind of bread. There’s even a website devoted to authentic soda bread here. There are a lot of opinions about what soda bread should be. But in the end, it’s a rustic looking hunk of dough that bakes into a great tasting bread-ish that goes well with any meal in a bowl, like soup or stew. It also tastes great lightly toasted with nut butter.

Or make soda bread with things added to it, like chopped dried fruit, and serve it for breakfast. With plenty of butter and jam on the side.

Our recipe loosely follows this guideline for making soda bread. Of course, the Canteen Fruity Nutty Soda Bread is gluten-free.  But (surprise) it isn’t chocolate-free (said the person who prefers that chocolate be named a food group). The soda bread is better with a little cocoa, currants, and walnuts, too. Don’t leave out the cocoa. It turns the bread a wonderful mocha brown and gives it a nice round flavor.

Some recipe notes:

  • Make sure the baking soda is pretty fresh. Old baking soda is just sad and gimpy. Here’s how to test it if you like easy geeky science projects.
  • Don’t have buttermilk? Got yogurt and milk? Add 60 grams or 1/4 cup of milk to 180 grams or 3/4 cup of  full fat plain yogurt and stir (double that for this recipe). Or add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to 240 grams (1 cup) whole milk and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir and use (double that for this recipe, too).
  • Substitute rice bran, or any other gluten-free grain for the oat bran if you wish. Not more than 40 grams or 1/3 cup.
  • The bread can be made dairy free by substituting non dairy milk in place of buttermilk. Also add 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to mimic the acidic quality of buttermilk. Leave out the tablespoon of butter that is used to brush the loaf. Be prepared for the bread to be slightly pale. It will not be dark brown when fully baked, even with the cocoa. Bake as directed.
  • The xanthan gum can be left out. Be prepared for the dough to be slightly less cohesive when you pick it up with your hands to form it into a ball. With just a 1/4 teaspoon of gum, it stays in that round shape in your hand. Without the gum the dough can be picked up, but it will start to fall out shape and slide (think landslide) in your hand. That tiny bit of gum performs a miracle for shaping the dough. Typically we bake without gums but in this case the bread performs and behaves better with that tiny bit of help. The loaf without gum will be slightly flatter than the one with gum. The flavor will not change.
  • Feel free to brush the loaf with butter as directed – or not. It will taste just as good without the butter bath. But it develops a nice brown sheen with a little butter brushed on the surface. If using buttermilk, a little more butter won’t hurt, right?
  • While the cocoa seems an odd addition, it provides lots of flavor and compliments the fruit and nuts but it never tastes like chocolate bread. No one would guess it was there if you didn’t tell them.

Happy St. Paddy’s day.


Gluten Free Canteen's Fruity Nutty Soda Bread

Nutty Soda Bread
  • 455 grams Canteen flour blend (3 ½ cups) (see notes)
  • 40 grams gluten-free oat bran or chopped oats (1/3 cup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda (fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon coconut or granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 480-500 grams buttermilk (2 heaping cups)
  • 90 grams currants (2/3 cup)
  • 90 grams chopped walnuts (2/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl whisk together flour, oat bran, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, salt and xanthan gum until combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk all at once. Use a wooden spoon to mix the dough just until combined. It will be very wet and sticky. Stir in currants and nuts.
  2. Using clean, wet hands (use a silicone spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl) form the dough into a ball and place it on the parchment. Using wet hands pat the dough into shape. Using a wet knife or pizza cutter quickly slice an X in the center but not too deeply - a shallow cut is good. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Brush the top of the bread with the melted butter (optional) Turn oven temperature down to 350°F and bake 35-45 minutes more or until the bread is crusty brown and the internal temperature is 195°F on an instant read thermometer ( a good thing to have for checking breads). Cool on a rack for 20-30 minutes. Slice and serve with plenty of butter and honey.
Canteen flour blend is 2 parts superfine brown rice flour plus 1 part each superfine white rice flour and tapioca flour by weight. See About Flour.

Gluten Free Canteen's Fruity Nutty Soda Bread. One bowl easy.


  1. What can I use instead of oats, oat flour?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi, Ketzy. The substitute/alternatives for oats is in the section called recipe notes on the post, 3rd item down.