As rudimentary as meat and potatoes, the Irish are masters of poetic expressions, driven by brogue-ish parlance that teases the hearer with it's fanciful whimsy. Who of us can resist and not lean in when we hear that delightful rhythm?
While not a drop of Irish blood runs through these veins (my name is Xenia....hello!!!), my McHubby is happy to remind me that Irish Soda Bread is very welcome at our table this month, along with a heapin' helpin' of me best Corned Beef and Cabbage please!
So let's be clear about this...this recipe is not "Irish Soda Bread" because there's no baking soda or buttermilk to be found! It is a yeast risen, wholegrain gluten free bread that I have chosen to add raisins and caraway seed to, giving it a nodding affirmation to Irish Soda Bread...that's all. And McHubby loves it!
Since gluten free baking is still a developing art, and alternate grains continue to be introduced to the baking world, innovation is always happening in the gluten free kitchen. The first flour mix combination to arrive on the GF scene was rice flour with potato, tapioca and/or arrowroot starches added, making an all white, gluten and nutrient free loaf, supported by xanthum gum. Not exactly the kind of dietary staple any of us needs, which is why I prefer to do my gluten free baking with various single grain flours instead of pre-made flour blends. (I will, however, on occasion, incorporate some flour blends into the recipe, as I did here, for convenience and their already blended soft flours.)
These single grain flours supply more protein and nutrients than the plain rice and starch mixes. For example, if you read the nutritional information on the side of the package of most flour blends based on rice flours, the protein content is usually 2 grams per 1/4 cup, while the protein content of Teff or Amaranth flour is 5 grams per 1/4 cup. I'll take the higher protein flour please! In the event you use any of the single grain flours, to avoid gumminess, and for a softer and loftier product, you'll have to add potato, arrowroot, and/or tapioca starch to the mix. I also add flax meal, seeds and nuts to most gluten free baked goods for their texture and nutritional boost. To source the various grains and flours, I have found that King Arthur Flour Company has the best inventory, guides and baking tools.
So on that note, here it is, my recipe for Caraway Raisin Bread, gluten free, my friend.
yields 1 loaf
The Yeast mix:
1/3 cup warm nut milk or water (no more than 105 degrees)
1 tsp honey
1 pkg, or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
The Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup King Arthur Amaranth flour
1/2 cup King Arthur Teff flour
1/4 cup King Arthur Sorghum flour
1 cup GF King Arthur Flour Blend
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 Tbsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp ground flax meal
The Wet Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup nut milk (or regular milk), warm
1/4 cup olive oil, or vegetable oil
3 whole eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
To proof the yeast, stir the 1/3 cup warm nut (or dairy) milk together with the honey and yeast, into a glass measuring cup, stirring with a small whisk or fork. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, or until it begins to foam. This ensures that the yeast is active.
While the yeast is proofing, into a large bowl, measure all the dry ingredients and stir very well, with a wire whisk. Make a well in the center.
Into a large glass measuring cup (I use a 4 cup Pyrex pitcher), beat the eggs, add the warm milk, oil and honey.
Once the yeast mixture has began to bubble, into the flour mix, pour the milk and egg mix and the yeast mix, stirring very well. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir until everything is completely incorporated. I use a rubber spatula and mix vigorously for a minute or two. Scrape everything to the center of the bowl and cover this rather sticky dough with plastic wrap. Let it rise until double in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Prepare a 9"round pie dish or square baking pan with baking spray or butter. When the dough has risen, re-stir the dough and pour it into the prepared pan. With wet hands, smooth the loaf nicely. Set it in a warm place to rise again for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until double in bulk.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until the loaf reaches 200 degrees in the center.
Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.