Food & Drink

Like Soda Bread? You’ll Love Irish Soda Scones

Penny Thorne is one of the most talented people I know. Her Pawcatuck, Conn., bakery—Black Dahlia Baking Company—is incredibly popular. She could probably coast on the quality of her regular baked goodies, but she is well known for accommodating the needs of her customers who have particular dietary needs.

I asked her for a recipe to help usher in St. Patrick’s Week, and these Irish Soda Scones are what she came up with. They can be made with regular flour, but with a minor adjustment they can be gluten-free instead. With yet another minor adjustment or two, they can be dairy-free, as well.

I have celiac, which means wheat flour is a no-no, so good egg that she is—lame bakery joke—she whipped up some gluten-free Irish Soda Scones and shipped them out to me here in Philadelphia. They were extraordinarily tasty. Slathered with a bit of butter? Pure heaven for this Irish-American boy. If you didn’t know they were gluten-free, you’d swear they were made with regular wheat flour.

Here’s what Penny had to say about them:

These Irish Soda Scones, or “bannocks” (since they are made with buttermilk) are basically just a traditional Irish Soda Bread made that has been made into a smaller scone form. They are one of the biggest sellers in my scratch bakery and customers continue to order them throughout the year. They also hold up great in the freezer when double wrapped in a freezer bag.

Here’s the recipe. 

Yields 8 good-sized scones.


  • 5 cups flour (gluten-free 1-to-1 flour or traditional all-purpose)
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, unsalted
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk, full fat
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed
  • ¼ cup cream, heavy whipping


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Scale out all ingredients listed.
  • Place all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to “stir” the ingredients.
  • Soften the butter by either leaving it out on the counter the night before so that it is room temperature or warm it slightly in the microwave just to soften.
  • Add the softened butter to the dry mixture and use your hands to blend in the butter by lifting the dry mix with your hands and using your thumbs to press and slide the softened butter through your fingers and back into the bowl.
  • Continue this technique until the mixture is crumbly and there aren’t any large chunks of butter.
  • Add the caraway seeds and again, use your hands to incorporate.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the buttermilk.
  • Insert your hands along the inside of the bowl and down to the middle, lifting up from the bottom center and pressing down toward the middle.  Repeat this technique until the dry mixture has absorbed all of the liquid and can hold together in a solid flat ball shape when pressed together.
  • Buttermilk can be added (1) tablespoon at a time if needed to incorporate any dry mixture left in the bottom of the bowl.  However, you should not need more than 1-2 tablespoons, if any.
  • Lift the ball mixture out of the mixing bowl and place onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Use one hand to press the mixture down into an oval shape while the other hand rides along the sides of the oval and pressing toward the middle to shape and set the dough so that it is the same height or just under that of your chosen cutter. (My cutter is 3.5 x 4 slight oval shape.  A common size is a round 3×3 inch.)
  • Press your cutter into the scone dough and slide one hand under the cutter to lift up while the other hand holds the cutter and dough in place.
  • Place the cutter and scone onto a lightly sprayed sheet tray and press the scone through the cutter so that it sits on the sheet tray.
  • Continue until all of the dough has been pressed into an oval and cut.
  • Coat the tops of the scones with the heavy whipping cream by using a dry brush or pat with your fingers to cover the tops.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the sheet tray.

* GLUTEN FREE FLOUR – I use Bob’s Gluten Free Blend, which is a 1:1 exchange.

* DAIRY FREE OPTION – Substitute all liquids equally with a non-dairy product of your choice.  Butter can also be substituted equally with any non-dairy vegan butter.

* VARIATIONS – Currants can be substituted for the caraway seed or a blend of both can be used as long as the total amount does not exceed the measurement listed.

Black Dahlia Baking Company is known for scratch baking all formulas without any dietary restrictions. 

Contact by emailing: or text directly: 401-368-7616 

And announcing the launch of my new book release, “Black Dahlia Baking Company – Scratch Baking without Restrictions.” 

Available this summer! This book will include recipes, bakery basics, terminology,  (3) units of measure and tips gained from over 30 years of behind-the-scenes bakery knowledge.  This book will be a wonderful addition to your library whether you’re a home baker or a professional already working in the bakery industry.

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