Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread: Spotted Dog (and tips on baking gluten-free)

Gluten free and dairy free Irish soda bread with raisins
This Spotted Dog Irish bread is yeast-free and gluten-free.

The Mother of Invention

If I call this new gluten-free bread an Irish soda bread, traditionalists will snicker. Raisins are not at all traditional in an Irish soda bread, you see. If a soda bread has raisins in it, it's called Spotted Dog over yonder, cross the pond in the Emerald Isle (or so I'm told). I never knew this, growing up on the white clapboard wilds of the Connecticut shore. I was blithely ignorant of this quaint canine moniker, despite a hefty streak of familial Irish blood (we ate more pierogi and kielbasa than Irish soda bread and tea). And out on my own- when I started baking my tender little eighteen year old heart out- my Irish soda bread had raisins.

And why not?

When it comes to traditions, I'm the first to admit- I am an upstart. I wiggle and chafe beneath constraint and "should" like an itchy school girl with pinching new shoes. I admire traditions. From afar. At least, in theory. In an abstract, symbolic way. The meaning and the message is more interesting to me than formula. When it comes to formula, I usually prefer to wing it.

Which is why I enjoy gluten-free baking.

My skill set groove runs deep on the intuitive side.

I bake like I paint. Observing. Listening. Responding to what is in front of me. If a recipe calls for x amount of flour and I sense the dough is too wet, I'll add more flour until the dough feels "right" to me. Experience helps. No doubt about it. The process of trial and error gives you a feel for gluten-free dough, an inkling about the muffin batter and how it might behave on any given day. Which varies, I hate to tell you.

So I pay attention to elements like humidity, and room temperature. Weather.

Bread dough will behave differently on a hot and humid day than it will on a windy, cold one. Your kitchen changes with the seasons, you know. So recipes may have to change a wee bit, too. The amount of milk or brown rice flour may need to be adjusted. Tweaked a tiny bit toward wet or dry.

Baking gluten-free is more of an art than a science.

I recommend you tune in to your ingredients and learn how they behave. Learn how humidity affects flour- notice it's dampness. Or dryness. Dry flours will soak up more liquid. Damp flours are heavier, and may need less moisture. A cool and drafty kitchen may require a longer rise time than a hot and sultry one. A thin metal bread pan may bake the outside of a loaf faster than the inside can keep up. Your oven may run a tad hotter than you imagined. Or lag behind and never quite pre-heat itself (do your gluten-free baked goods end up gummy in the center?).

Gluten-free baking requires your full attention. A dash of patience. An intimacy with your ingredients. A willingness to adjust. And most of all, developing an intuition you can trust.

Even if it goes against tradition.

Gluten free Spotted Dog soda bread is an Irish classic with a twist
Gluten-free Spotted Dog- an Irish bread with a twist.

Karina's Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread Recipe- with Spots

Tweaked from my original recipe posted in 2011-- by Karina Allrich. 

Use your favorite milk, or non-dairy milk- but note that non-traditional coconut milk and a touch of coconut flour add a subtle fragrant tenderness to this easy, rustic quick bread. If you cannot use coconut due to allergies, try your usual milk choice, and substitute the coconut flour with sweet rice flour.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a 7-inch or 8-inch cake pan with a piece of parchment paper.


1/2 cup brown rice flour or gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour, gluten-free oat flour, or millet flour
1/2 cup almond or hazelnut flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (not potato flour!)
1/4 cup organic coconut flour
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 organic free-range eggs or egg replacer
6 tablespoons light olive oil
3/4 cup coconut milk, soy milk or non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup currants (or raisins)


Whisk the flours and dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Combine 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 to do this. If you need a little more coconut milk to moisten the dough, add a tablespoon at a time and stir in.

When the dough is evenly moist and sticky, add the raisins and stir by hand to mix them in.

Scrape out the dough and plop it into the center of the lined cake pan. Use oiled or wet hands to mound the dough into a rustic round loaf. Dot with extra raisins, if you like and press them in a bit.

Slice a smallish criss-cross into the center of the dough.

Place the pan into the center of a preheated oven. Bake for about 30 to 33 minutes, until the loaf is golden and firm. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center to test for doneness.

Gluten free Irish Soda Bread with new flours
Sweet and tender gluten-free "Spotted Dog" soda bread with tea.

Cool the pan on a wire rack for five minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to continue cooling (you don't want a steamy bottom!).

Serve slightly warm with your favorite buttery spread and some fruity jam.

Recipe Notes:

Rustic soda breads are really best eaten warm from the oven. This latest version is tender and slightly sweet- perfect for tea time. 
If you have leftovers, I would wrap and freeze the remaining bread to preserve the texture and taste. Thaw and warm it up in the oven or grill slices with a pat of butter.

This recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. 
To make it vegan, use your favorite egg replacer equivalent to 3 beaten eggs- about 6 tablespoons of liquid. See below for a link to my vegan Irish Soda Bread with Millet.

Cook time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 10 slices

Recipe Source:

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Gluten free Irish soda bread
Warm slices of Irish soda bread with raisins.

More gluten-free Irish soda bread recipes:

My vegan Irish Soda Bread with Millet
My Orange Scented Soda Bread
Elana's Pantry Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread
Gluten Freedom does up one of my earlier Irish Soda Bread recipes...

For substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.

xox Karina


MJ said...

What a gorgeous loaf! I have to admit, I never knew raisins made it spotted dog. - I have Irish blood and grew up near Chicago, and more often than not, "soda bread" you'd get around St. Paddy's Day would have raisins instead of currants which I thought were traditional, with a big variation in moistness and sweetness among the recipes.

Kalyn said...

I only recently heard the name "Spotted Dog" for Soda bread with raisins, but I find it quite charming. And as usual, your bread looks amazing.

freeeats said...

Each photo you take is more beautiful than the last! Thank you for my daily candy. I look forward to trying this recipe. Even though I know it's blasphemy, I've been known to swoon for Irish Soda Bread with raisins AND apricots. ;)

Charles said...

A version of this is called Spotted Dick in England and is boiled in a pudding cloth served with butter and brown sugar. Different at least!

Katie said...

Looks gorgeous. I know what you mean about gluten free baking being more intuition than science. I recently went to a GF demo where we were told to treat bread mix like cake batter (wet) and pastry like bread dough (knead it). It goes against other baking instructions but so far its helping

Marty said...

Karina - Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming up with a GFV (gluten-free vegan) Soda Bread recipe for us/me! I can't wait to try it! I have a quilt group that meets once a week, and the host always makes soda bread for St. Patty's Day and now I'll be able to bring my "version" for all to taste. They say "how sorry" they are I'm GFV, I'm quite happy actually - and they'll see exactly why!

Anonymous said...

I made this bread last nite at 10pm AZ time.
It was good! Taste like scone. I substituted guar gum for Xanthan gum. The texture is a little crumbly...not sure why. Thank you!

Angie Halten said...

The title of this Irish Soda Bread is way too cute! Just the title alone "Spotted Dog" makes me want to make this bread. I know my kids will be taking this to school to share with their friends, just because of the name alone. Who brings their "Spotted Dog" to school!


Doeiby said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been desperately searching for a bread that I can make with my own list of food intolerances, and have made many versions of "yuck." I made this bread tonight and my children couldn't get enough of it. It's so easy, and delicious, that I could make it everyday!

Laural (bhealthier) said...

Ohh I usually wing it with formula's/recipes too! I thought I had celiacs/gluten intolerance but after many medical tests I found out it was a hernia. I still find that gluten free produces far less symptoms but I am able to be flexible at least without damaging any lining! phew!

great recipe, raisins or not!

Amy @ SS&GF said...

I love the way you tied in "pay attention to your flours!" It's so important to understand how temperature and humidity affect the final product. It's one of those things that can only be learned with experience.

I'm interested to see how your soda bread compares to's something new to me since going gluten-free. The only way to learn is to make it and taste it, huh?

Hugs, Karina.

Meghann LittleStudio said...

Umm, I was wondering...I can't get double acting baking powder here, can I use my regular ol' baking powder, or will that ruin it? I'm about 350 feet above sea level, if that helps....
Aw, heck, I might just try this anyway, it looks SOOOO good, and I am just hankering for some good soda bread. Also, do you think if I omit the raisins and use almond milk instead of the coconut milk, it'll taste like regular soda bread? I should make it both ways, I can always ride my exercise bike to work off the carbs I guess ;-)

Stephanie Weaver said...

Having also grown up in Connecticut, I too had never heard the term spotted dog. This looks like a delicious cross between Panettone and scones, both of which I miss in my GF and sugar-free life. Looking forward to trying this!

Jeanette said...

I love your soda bread recipes and this one sounds wonderful with coconut flour, a flour I haven't baked much with and am still experimenting with. I just made your millet soda bread (I substituted quinoa flour as I didn't have any millet flour) and it turned out fabulously. I just wrote a post on this very bread as my family is enjoying it for St. Patrick's Day. I'm new to gluten-free baking and have found your blog such a wonderful resource - thank you!

Linda said...

I made this last night. We're eating it at work. Right now. With tons of butter. And calling it Irish Soda Bread. Just 'cuz. Thank you so much for this and a Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and your family. xoxLinda

Kayla said...

I love this recipe of yours. I think I'd rather have my bread with raisins in it. Bread with raisins just taste better! Spotted Dog, or Irish Soda Bread,what matters most is that it taste good. From the above review, I think it must have been really awesome. I did a compilation of St Patrick's Day recipe on my blog earlier on, and thought it will be awesome to share this post on my blog.

Claire Berman said...

Karina, thank you so much for linking to my blog! I loved your first Irish soda bread recipe and can't wait to try this one out as well. Happy (belated) St. Patty's Day :)

Claire (from Gluten Freedom)

Elana said...

Thanks for the link Karina. Your photos are gorgeous and your bread looks delish!

myfitlivingcoach said...

Hi Karina, I really enjoy your recipes but notice a lot of them use coconut flour. Is there a good alternative to coconut system is still too senstive to soluble fiber! I would love to make this recipe and a few others. Your input would be fabulous!

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks, Everyone, for your kind comments! xox

Megyn-Houston, you can play with the flours- if you need a super gentle blend, try using potato starch instead of coconut flour. (Not potato flour- too heavy; make sure it's the starch.)


Laila said...

I've made this recipe a couple times now (with the currants, and substituted coconut oil and almond milk). It is SO good! Thank you so much!

passionate_cook said...

I made this bread tonight in honour of my dog, Toby, one very spotted dog. He didn't get any, unfortunately for him, as dogs can't eat raisins. But I thoroughly enjoyed eating my share, along with his!

Amy Ruth said...

Interesting, I never thought of using coconut flour in a bread recipe because it soaks up so much liquid. I look forward to trying this!

Mary said...

Thank you so much, Karina for all your recipes! You are my go to for gf recipes... Ive been making your recipes for a few years now and finally decided to comment! Please keep up the hard work!
Much thanks!

The World In A Pot said...

I have to say this recipe looks scrumptous! It does not look 'gluten free' at all. This one is one i'll just have to try! thanks for the recipe!

The InTolerant Chef said...

This looks lovely, and cooking intuitively is cooking from the heart!

tan said...

Love your site Karina, just made the Gluten Free Cupcakes with Mocha Icing. One question about the batter. You say to scoop the batter with an icecream scoop. Is it meant to be quite thick then, because my batter was very thin and i just poured it into the moulds. Thanks!

Ellen Allard said...

You inspire me to use my intuition and experience in the world of GF. You know what would be great Karina? If you did some sort of class on learning to use your intuition when baking with allergies. With homework. That would just rock. Would you think about it?

rocky said...

Hi always another winner. Looks great and I can't wait to make it. However, as another person said, "can I use my regular ol' baking powder, or will that ruin it?" Thanks for your time to verify this matter. ((HUGS))

katshealthcorner said...

Thanks for the tips on baking gluten-free! I've been trying to reach out and try different flours and this was a great help! Thanks! :)

northdenvernutritiontherapy said...

This was my very first "from scratch" gluten free baking adventure. I'm not much of a baker, but it turned out great! I didn't use the coconut flour/milk but it was great with rice flour/milk. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

bunnyand lula said...

would this work in a regular loaf pan? I have a hankering to make loaf pan shaped bread !

Anonymous said...

Yum! Made this today with a few substitutions to work with the ingredients I had, like using the sweet rice flour instead of coconut, using white rice flour with an extra pinch of almond flour for "nuttiness" instead of brown rice, and using agave nectar instead of brown sugar, and it still came out great. Definitely the best (not to mention quickest) gluten free bread loaf I've ever made, and I loved the coconut milk in this recipe -- it is by far my favorite non-dairy milk. My bread came out perfectly sweet, delicate, and absolutely scrumptious. I even added too much agave, but I loved the sweeter taste.

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks MJ- there is so much variation! Whatever floats your boat, I say. Or makes you smile.

Karina Allrich said...

Why not? I'm there with ya.

Karina Allrich said...

Dude. Anything with butter and brown sugar has GOT to be good.

Karina Allrich said...

How sweet- love it!

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks Amy! I know people look for a absolutes, and formulas, but the truth is- you've got to be intuitive with gluten-free baking. Weather affects GF flours and starches. Probably our mood, too!

Karina Allrich said...

Another Connecticut Yankee. Yay. This is very tender- not sturdy like Pannetone- though I can see how it looks that way in the photograph... Sugar free is tough. You are brave.

Karina Allrich said...

Wonderful! Thank you.

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks Linda! xox

Karina Allrich said...

Thank you Elana!

Karina Allrich said...

It is- isn't it? Thank you darling.

Karina Allrich said...

Wonderful! Creative. So glad. Go you. xox

Karina Allrich said...

That's a GOOD question! We'll need to experiment (I don't see why not). It will take longer to bake through, I suspect.

Connie Hatch-Feir said...

Can't wait to try this! Since I don't have a problem with dairy, could I use regular milk or buttermilk in this? Thanks for being such an inspiration! said...


Karina Allrich said...

Yes- buttermilk (or regular milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice in it) would work. You can use dairy in any of my recipes- I've made my recipes with both (I have a dairy allergy, so need mine dairy-free.)

Adzele said...

You mentioned baking with soft uncook inside. We have so much allergies here but i have given up baking . Mine seems to always be soft and gui and uncook inside . Just depressing. I will really appreciate any hint that you may have for me. Thanks

Molly Cavanaugh said...

In plenty of time for St. Patrick's Day...awesome! I appreciate all of the substitution options in the recipe, too. Makes things so much easier than gluten-free baking often is.

Luana Stauffer said...

Just made this and it's yummy. I used flax meal instead of coconut flour, 2 eggs and 1/2 cup almond milk. So easy! Thank you Karina.

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