Gluten-Free Gypsy Soda Bread

Gluten free soda bread recipe
Gluten-free soda bread, gypsy style.

By the time I attended art school and launched into life on my own I had moved ten times and attended nine different schools in four different states. Not all that unusual, I imagine, for many Americans. And for those of us with nomadic ancestry it simply feels natural to do so, to gather up and move in sync with the wheel of the seasons, aligned with winged migrations and turning stars.

I have always kept a gypsy heart, even when it wasn't easy. Even when I let her out only in my deepest dreams, inside a brushstroke, or as I stirred a makeshift dough with one of my young sons, improvising ingredients on a budget so small every dollar bill mattered.

I am Scott-Irish, Polish, and Lithuanian. Or so I'd been told. New genealogical evidence suggests my maternal grandmother may have hid our true heritage all her life. What I have uncovered: her mother Josefa left Krakow for Philadelphia at the tender age of twenty, traveling alone in steerage with nothing but a suitcase, speaking only Yiddish and Polish. It was the turn of a new century. Imagine what she must have felt embarking on such a journey, solo. I wish I had known her.

And I wish I had more than just imaginings and intuition about this crazy gypsy heritage of mine. This stew of Ashkenazic Jewish and Scott-Irish. People used to packing up. Starting over. Making bread from a few scratch ingredients.

Today I made a version of my favorite pre-celiac soda bread, incorporating two grains of the native New World, corn and sorghum, and savoring yet another eclectic improvisation that was grainy, tender and without pretense.

So I named it after my gypsy heart.

An open road and the urge for goin'.

Gypsy Soda Bread Recipe

This simple rustic bread uses one of my favorite gluten-free baking mixes- Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix. If you have a different favorite gluten-free baking and pancake mix with leavening, feel free to use it instead.

Dry ingredients:

2/3 cup Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix - or other self-rising GF baking mix
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornmeal- or almond meal if you avoid corn
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 cup buttermilk or plain non-dairy milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice added
2 large free-range organic eggs- room temperature- or Ener-G Egg Replacer 
4 tablespoons light olive oil

Stir In:

1 rounded teaspoon caraway or anise seeds, to taste
1/2 cup golden raisins, dried cherries, dates, or currants


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a 7 or 8-inch cake pan and dust it with cornmeal (or almond meal).

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly pour the wet into the dry ingredients, gently mixing as you go [I use a soft silicone or rubber spatula]. When the dough is evenly moist, add the caraway and raisins. Stir only briefly to mix them in.

Scrape and spoon out the dough into the prepared cake pan; and using moist palms, flatten and shape the dough into a round loaf. Sprinkle with a very light dusting of cornmeal or gluten-free flour.

Place the pan into the center of a preheated oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the loaf is golden and crusty. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center if you like, to test for doneness. It should feel firm and "thump" as if it is hollow when you tap it.

Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes; and turn the loaf out of the pan to cool to room temperature - although it's best warm and tender from the oven, I think, even if it crumbles a bit.

Serves 8.

Recipe Source:

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Gypsy Notes:

Soda breads are definitely best eaten the day they are baked. Slice and freeze leftovers for grilling in butter or use leftovers to make a bread pudding.
For a more traditional Irish Soda Bread try this dairy-free soda bread recipe.
Using egg replacer will usually create a denser loaf. 


Garrett said...

Dear god I do love soda bread.

Ellen said...

This looks divine - I bet it would be excellent for breakfast with a cup of tea. I know what I'm making tomorrow morning! Thanks for the recipe!

Dianne said...

Lovely to read about your ancestry Karina, it reads a bit like mine! I can imagine this doing a grand tour of the blogosphere as a meme! The soda bread looks heavenly too!


Laurel said...

Just in time for St. Patty's day! Thank you for the recipe!

Angie said...

That looks delicious, as always. Thanks for the inspiration!

gilly said...

Hi Karina! This looks like a lovely treat - particularly to enjoy for a certain Irish celebration!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing the words "bread pudding." I thought I would never be able to eat it again.

Linda said...

you are such a talented photographer. my grandmother makes me irish soda for me all the time. love it!

chrisd said...

Do you think we could use Rice Dream instead of milk and include the cider vinegar? It looks fabulous!

Anonymous said...

this is in the oven right now! the batter tastes delicious. thank you very much!


Karina said...

Hi Ellen!

Guess what I had for breakfast this morning?

Dianne - Thanks! xoxo

Hola, Laurel - My pleasure.

Hey Angie! Great - thank you!

Gilly - Yup. Timing is good. ;-)

Anonymous - Babycakes! GF bread pudding is fabulous! No kidding.

Hi Linda! Thank you. What a lucky girl you are.


ChrisD ~ Hmmm. Well, if it were me, no, I would not add the vinegar; Rice Dream has a slightly sweet taste. Do you have a non-dairy plain yogurt or sour cream sub you like? If you do, I'd use that instead, with just a spoon of rice milk to thin it a bit.

Heya Steph! Excellent. Last night we ate it warm with a drizzle of really good olive oil. We were licking our fingers.


~M said...

What brand of sorghum flour do you recommend?

Karina said...

Hi ~M!

I found a package of Bob's Red Mill sorghum at the Santa Fe Natural Grocer; tried it and loved it. It's processed in BRM's gluten-free facility.


J. said...

Guess what I did last night... I made pizza - soda bread was contemplated but I decided pizza would be more up my alley. I googled to see if there were any new ideas out there and found this

Man am I glad I did. I doubled it and it made 2 thickish shells that are not crumbly or tasting like cardboard - they are a little crunchy, chewy and brown really well - it's the best GF pizza I have ever made now if only we had gf beer in Canada

Laurel said...

Just reading over the comments, because I made the bread yesterday, and I used light vanilla soy milk (all we had in the house) with the vinegar, (minus the raisins because we're not big fans of raisins in our house) and it still came out delicious!

Thanks again!

Karina said...

Hi J.

Glad you found a crust recipe that works for you. Yay. I'm still working on it.

Hey Laurel!

Great to know - thank you! I love it when readers share how they modified a recipe. So many folks have additional [or other] intolerances, and need substitution help. Thanks!


ByTheBay said...

Oh yum!

The Compassionate Celiac said...

OH MY! My Irish roots thank you!

Anonymous said...

we ended up making two of these this weekend---they were eaten joyously---everyone claimed this was the "best soda bread ever--and I don't even like soda bread!"

we didn't have sorghum flour, so I did 1/4 cup each of rice and tapioca starch. I did put in about 1t of cinnamon. The kids did not like the caraway seeds; I will omit for them next time, but the seeds won over my picky irish father in law.

thank you, *thank you*, karina!


ps--this is also the first baked product we've made that doesn't taste GF. I don't know what it was---but it rose wonderfully, wasn't overly chewy, didn't crumble to bits, etc. wonderful base recipe that I think we will tinker with for coffee cakes, banana breads, etc.

Karina said...

Hi ByThBay. Yum? Oh yeah.

Hey Compassionate Celiac! My Irish roots say, My pleasure! ;-)

Hola, Steph! How cool is that? I'm so happy to hear that. Total YAY.

And I agree. I think it's a formula worth tweaking into other possibilities. Fab idea.


Rob said...

Living in a land with a 1000 different types of soda bread, I must say I like the look of this gluten free recipe and will definitely give it a go (though assembling the ingredients could prove a challenge!).

Karina said...

Hey Rob,

Only a thousand? ;-)

Good luck, then! Slainte!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karina,

i'd like your help if you can, about the soda bread recipe.i made it but it didn't rise at all.i didn't have the flour you recommended, so i was a bit lost trying to make out some mix myself.
could you help me on that please?i am dreaming of a real soda bread.
thanks a lot.

Karina said...

Hi Anon,

Basically, what you'll need to sub is 1 and 2/3 cups GF flour.

You can use a simple combo of sorghum and tapioca starch, or try rice flour and tapioca starch.

I'd start with 1 cup sorghum or rice flour, and add 2/3 cup tapioca starch.

For leavening [subbing these flours in the recipe above] I would use 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons baking soda.

Soda bread is a dense bread almost like a cakey cornbread texture. It isn't springy like yeasted breads.

Good luck!


sophie said...

hi Karina,

thanks a lot for your help with the soda bread;i'll try it again soon.
in the same time, would you know what to use in a recipe that calls for matzo meal or matzo flour?would corn meal be good to replace matzo meal?thanks for sharing your ideas.


Karina said...

Hi Sophie,

I've never baked with matzo meal - only used it in matzo balls [pre-GF].

I've posed this question to the GFG Google Group. They are an inventive bunch. Will post any suggestions they offer [or you can always join the GFG Group ;-)].

Mansi Desai said...

wow, I've heard about Soda bread but never eaten it before...this recipe might just be the incentive i was looking for:)

Karina Allrich said...

Hi Mansi!

Welcome! It's a different sort of bread, and best eaten quickly. Grilling leftovers in a little olive oil is yummy.


LuLuBelle said...

I made this and it was soooo good. I havn't eaten anything breadlike in a long time and went a little hubby and I ate the whole thing in one day.

My batter was too runny to shape though. I triple checked all my measurements and used exactly what the recipe called for. It was delicious anyway and I'm making it again tonight...I'll try a little less liquid.
Thanks!!!! Bread pudding is coming up soon too...what a yummy thought. Have to make it when we have someone over so I won't eat it all myself.

Katherine said...

I am making this bread for my boss (and his family) and for my sister-in-law and her husband for the Holidays. The recipe and picture look great, so here goes! BTW, I am part Hungarian Gypsy. I loved your story and the title really made me want to try this bread out. Thanks!

For the Love Of My Bugs! said...

I'm not Gypsy or Irish but I'll tell you what...this is the best darn Gypsy Soda Bread EVER!!! You really are soooo darn awesome in the kitchen!!! There is nothing you can't cook!!! My gosh woman!!!!

I used caraway seeds and for DS. But hubbie didn't care for the caraway. So, will be making this again on St. Patty's...gonna try with out caraway...bummer!! The things we do for our men ;P

Oh, and change the serves 8 to 1!!! It was so good I was having a hard time sharing with my kids!!

lol!! Thanks again for another awesome recipe!

Val said...

Glad to find your site. I recently discovered that my family and I are allergic to wheat, corn, oats, milk, yeast, + more. We were big fans of making whole grain sandwich bread in our bread machine, even grinding wheat grain - trying to be ultra-nutritious. So now I'm in search of a sandwich bread and an all-purpose mix recipe that I can make at home. I'm able to find (and afford) rice (prefer to use brown or wild), potato starch, millet, chickpeas (I figure I can still use the grinder for the rice, millet, and chickpeas), and tapioca flour. Can I get a mix out of these ingredients? Can one even make a sandwich bread in a bread machine w/o adding yeast? I don't want to trade our nutritious grain bread for a GF white-bread equivalent so I'd like it be have lots of fiber and protein...that's why I thought the chickpeas would be a good addition, also flaxseed. Can I substitute lemon juice for vinegar in recipes? Thanks for your help!

Leah said...

Hi Karina! I came across your interesting blog while looking for dinner on SBD.

We have a lot in common. I'm your generation -- turning 60 soon. Shy in school -- you were four-eyes, so was I -- also kootie bug! I love cooking and eating. My stomache problem is a hiatal hernia.


I'd write this to you personally, but don't see your email anywhere... I hope this is okay.

You mention that your maternal grandmother was Jewish (I mean, if she was speaking Yiddish, she wasn't Chinese...)

Have you explored your Jewish roots? Because Judaism is passed on from our maternal ancestry. If you're (hopefully) interested, some sites you might want to explore might include:

One of my own sites, which includes everything from (and the contact goes to my email)there's also a list of centers there, including LA and NM.....

The best of luck to you! Leah

willow said...

karina -
just found your site. you're story sounds so much like my own - cultural heritage and gypsy tendencies, heartstrings tied to a culture i don't quite know but identify with intrinsically. thank you for sharing!

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