Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread with Caramelized Walnuts and Figs

It’s time to spice up the traditional Irish soda bread that we see this time of year. The addition of caramelized walnuts, dried figs and fennel seeds combined with the nutty textures of gluten-free flours makes this bread  perfect toasted for breakfast or with a cup of tea to brighten up your day.


1 cup dried Mission figs

1 tbs. unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup hot black tea

3 cups gluten-free flour (store bought or I use this recipe:

1 tsp. xanthan gum  (if your flour mix does not contain it)

1/4 cup cane sugar

1 tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tbs. fennel seeds

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (cultured butter adds a nice tang)

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg, room temperature

Method of Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a small skillet, melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat. Add the walnuts and stir constantly until the nuts are slightly brown and smell toasted, 3-4 minutes. Spread nuts on a plate too cool.
  3.  Place the figs in a bowl and cover with hot black tea. Let the figs soften for 10-15 minutes and then slice into 1/4″ pieces.
  4.  In a large bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (if using), cane sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and fennel seeds.
  5.  Add the butter cubes and using a pastry cutter (or two knives), cut in the butter until the mixture looks like small peas.
  6.  In a small bowl combine the buttermilk and egg.
  7. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, begin to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the candied walnuts and fig slices.
  8. Continue to mix the dough, using a spatula or your hands. Mix until you have a dough that is a bit sticky, but still able to be formed into a ball. Place the ball on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Using a knife, cut an “x” in the top of the loaf. Brush the loaf with a little buttermilk to help it brown.
  9. Bake at 375 F. for 45-55 minutes. It should be golden brown and a toothpick when inserted in the center of the loaf, should come out clean.Let cool before slicing. Enjoy with butter and jam.

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