Treacle Tea Cake (Irish Soda Bread)

Treacle Tea Cake (Irish Soda Bread)

It’s nearly St. Patty’s Day already (where does the time go?!), and no recipe more than Irish Soda Bread symbolizes this festive holiday. One of my favorite versions is a take on Gluten Free Treacle Tea Cake, or a sweeter Irish Soda Bread.

I will freely admit that I was never a big fan of the wheat-based versions of this traditional Irish staple. After researching authentic recipes though, I realized that my Southern palate just couldn’t appreciate the “plain” dry soda bread varieties. I’ll admit I’ve never been one for a dry or crumbly loaf (hence my distaste for most store-bought gluten-free bread!), so that didn’t help. I discovered through my research though, that there are many modifications to the “plain” soda bread that might lend themselves nicely to my kind of bread, so I dove in.

Apparently, variations on the traditional have their own ancient roots on the Emerald Isle, with geographic differences yielding the most radical diversity between recipes. The northern regions of Ireland have historically tended to favor a type of soda bread called “farl,” a baking term which essentially means “triangular piece.” The farl style bread is baked in four triangles in a heavy frying pan rather than in an oven. The Irish Southerners favor the “cake” style soda bread (as a Southerner myself, I’m liking this international trend…) which is mounded higher, criss-crossed with a knife before baking and cooked in an oven.

gluten free treacle cake irish soda bread

Further research also revealed that the typical Irish soda bread does not contain fruit, nor is it very sweet; however, breakfast soda breads — or those offered at tea — often are the opposite. I was suddenly attracted to the idea of those types of breads, and made some notes. My goal became to make a more “Treacle” (molasses) style of soda bread with enough flavor and moisture to stand on its own.

The recipe I devised was of the gluten free Treacle Cake (Southern) variety, incorporating both treacle and fruit (I used baking raisins; sultanas would be a nice option too). My bread was also definitely not dry or crumbly. It’s a good thing I photographed it before I tasted it – I’ve already devoured a full farl of treacle (is that possible?) on my own, and I’m tempted to go back for more!

I also decided to throw in a twist by making this Gluten Free Treacle Cake gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free … and I used a delicious continental gluten-free beer in the process. (Don’t tell the hard-core Irish in your group, but the beer was Belgian!) This recipe should also work nicely with ginger ale instead.

It promises to be an international and universal favorite, no matter what your food restrictions! Follow my directions below to fashion your own homemade Dutch oven, and you’ll be baking this modern version the old-fashioned way, with delicious results!

(PS – check out this yummy soda bread on DC’s FOX news!)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Gluten Free Treacle Tea Cake (Irish Soda Bread)

gluten free treacle cake irish soda bread
  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups gfJules™ All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 cup baking raisins or sultanas (or boil raisins in water, drain, then add to the recipe)
  • 2 Tbs. dark (Black Strap) molasses
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt, like soy, coconut, almond, rice or dairy yogurt (I used So Delicious® Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free beer, gingerale, club soda or Perrier (I like Green’s Tripel Blonde Ale  the color of the liquid you choose will affect the color of the final bread)
  • milk of choice to brush on top of dough (dairy or non-dairy)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375° F (static) or 350° F (convection).

In a large food processor (or if using a mixing bowl, use a pastry cutter or large slotted spoon) mix all the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Add the molasses, apple cider vinegar and yogurt, stirring together until the dough is raggedy and dry, but mixed. Gradually add the beer and raisins until it holds together in a ball shape.

Roll the ball in a light coating of gfJules™ All Purpose Flour and place into a parchment-lined metal cake pan (9-10 inch pan is fine). Press down slightly to make a dome, rather than a ball. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush, then brush the dough with a thin coating of your favorite milk (dairy or non-dairy).

Using a sharp knife, make a criss-cross cut into the top of the dome, pressing down with the knife approximately 1/4 inch without pulling the dough. Rock the knife back and forth slightly to open up the cuts and allow the bread to rise in those directions. Top the pan with another cake pan of the same size (this will create a mock Dutch Oven) and place in the preheated oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325° F (static) or 300° F (convection) for approximately 30 more minutes, then remove the top pan.  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until cooked through (test with a wooden skewer inserted into the center or knock on the bottom, listening for a hollow sound).

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  To store, wrap in a tea towel then place in a zip-top bag. The towel will help to keep the bread moist and soften the crust a bit.

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

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This vegan version of a gluten free Treacle Tea Cake (aka Sweet Irish Soda Bread) uses both treacle (molasses) and fruit for a moist, dense, sweeter bread.

This gluten free, vegan version of a gluten free Treacle Tea Cake (aka Sweet Irish Soda Bread) uses both treacle (molasses) and fruit for a moist, dense, sweeter bread.

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21 thoughts on “Treacle Tea Cake (Irish Soda Bread)

  1. Could I omit the raisins? I’m not a fan of fruit in my bread. Also, if I were to bake this in a dutch oven, would I cover it following the instructions or leave it uncovered?

    • Hi Beth, absolutely you can leave out the raisins! and baking in a dutch oven I’d leave it covered – I think it will be lovely baked in a dutch oven. Please come back and let me know how it worked out baked that way!
      ~jules

  2. I made this as son as I received my flour and it was a huge hit with the family! I have missed real baking–you know what I mean–and love the feel of bread coming to life under my hands. Thank you for your diligence in develooping this blend.

    • That’s exactly how I feel too, Ceejay! I just love baking bread and I’m so glad you dove right in and made this recipe as soon as your gfJules Flour arrived! Thank you for taking the time to let me know you tried this recipe and are excited to get back to baking again!!! May all your baking be happy, from here on out!
      ~jules

  3. This bread was wonderful! I made it exactly like the recipe using ginger ale as I had no gluten free beer on hand. My husband didn’t even know it was gluten free! Will definitely make this again!

    • Don’t you love when you can fool people about your yummy GF foods! Congratulations and so happy you have another great recipe to add to your repertoire!
      ~jules

  4. Jules, I want to adapt this to an everyday GF-Soda bread without spices or fruit and could I just omit any of the sweetener or use a little stevia? Could I also use dried herbs like, dill or onion or garlic powder? What do you think? Also if someone can tolerate organic eggs could you use 1 or 2 eggs to give it lift be separating them and then gently adding in the beaten egg whites right at the end?

  5. I just made this last weekend and although it was a huge hit, didn’t turn out perfectly. It was well-baked on the outside but a tad too moist/dense on the inside. I made the mistake of forgetting to cover the bread initially and didn’t catch it until after it had baked for about 15 minutes and then covered it. Also, our local grocery store decided to stop carrying So Delicious coconut yogurt so I improvised by using coconut milk with lemon juice (non-dairy buttermilk) and cut the measurement back to a scant cup. Not sure which of the variances may have affected the outcome so as soon as I get some coconut yogurt will try again.

    • Kelly- you are brave to make those modifications! I think it probably was a combination, because the crust cooked too quickly and the inside wasn’t done yet, and switching from yogurt to milk (coconut or not) will always make a difference. I’d love to hear how it works for you next time – let me know!!

  6. Made the Irish soda bread but had to add almost an additional cup of flour because it was so runny. It turned out ok, probably a bit heavier than it should have been. (I’ve made gf soda bread before.) wondering if I did something wrong. I made it in a food processor.

    • Not sure, Lynda. It’s good that you had the confidence to add more flour when the dough didn’t look right to you. Were you using my pre-mixed all purpose GF flour? I ask because using other blends could definitely throw the proportions off. What liquid did you choose to use? Also, what yogurt? All of those variables will cause slightly different outcomes. When using the food processor next time I’d suggest slowly adding your liquid last, and only add enough to get the dough to hold together in a ball. If you are left with more liquid after that, then don’t feel like you have to add it all. It sounds like the proportions were way off by adding another cup of flour, so that would definitely contribute to the density. Let me know how it goes next time you try!

  7. This sounds yummy! I like the addition of nutmeg and cardamom. I made a GF soda bread last year but couldn’t come up with what extactly I did…so we did without this year.