Northern Irish Soda Farls

soda farl

Soda Farl Hot Off The Griddle, Split Open & Melting Butter. Mmmm!

Originally I’m from Northern Ireland and one of my all time favorite Irish things to eat are soda farls. In Northern Ireland, they are quite often called soda bread, although here in North America, we think of soda bread as that which is baked in the oven. Soda farls on the other hand, are cooked on a flat smooth griddle on the stove.  The ingredients are simple and few and these traditionally would have been a quick way to make some food for visitors that would drop by unannounced (as is often the case) and hospitality along with a cup of tea would be offered.

And seldom is the offer refused as that would be seen as an insult to the hosts.

The term “farls” comes from the Ulster Scot word, fardel which means “a fourth” or “a quarter.”  When making farls, the dough is flattened into a circular shape and then cut into four pieces.

Although in North America, some have added ingredients to the traditional recipe, they are not really and truly genuine Northern Irish soda farls.  The majority of soda farls that are made in the north of Ireland just use the few simple ingredients below.  If making scones however, dried blackcurrants or raisins might be added but this is an exception more than it is the rule.

Instead of yeast, baking soda is used as the leavening agent. I prefer to use a flat round cast iron griddle for making farls, but a frying pan will also work.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Method:

Preheat flat griddle on stove top with medium-low heat.

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking soda together.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk.

Mix all the ingredients well, but work quickly as the baking soda is activated immediately with the acidity of the buttermilk.

Dust some flour on a wooden breadboard and your hands.  Move the dough from the bowl to the breadboard and flatten it and shape it to a circle, about 8″ in diameter. Cut the dough with a knife (a pizza cutter also works well) into quarters (you could also cut it into 8 parts).

Cook on the griddle, turning over the farls so that both sides are cooked for about 15 to 20 minutes. Your farls should rise while cooking, and you may need to “harn” them after they have cooked on both sides. Harning means to set them on the griddle, leaning against each other, so the edges also get cooked.

Soda farls taste fantastic right off the griddle, split in half and butter melting into them. You could also spread jam or honey on them as well.  In Northern Ireland (as well as my home here), they are also used as part of breakfast. The are cut in half and then fried in bacon fat until there is a crispness on both sides.

As I wrote above, they are not truly genuine soda farls when additional ingredients are added to the dough, but from time to time, I do like to add dried blackcurrants to mine, which then they would be called “tea scones.”  My ten year old son loves these. To make them, I add about 6 ounces of dried blackcurrants to the above recipe, adding them to the flour before the buttermilk is added.

Update

If you’re looking for a very easy recipe that involves virtually no measuring of ingredients, be sure to also see “An Improved Northern Irish Soda Farl.”

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13 comments on “Northern Irish Soda Farls

  1. […] the same type of flour, the world around.  I provided a recipe for Northern Irish soda farls in this post, and want to provide a recipe shortly for Irish “wheaten bread,” a loaf of bread that […]

  2. […] bread baking in the oven that my mother was making.  When she made wheaten, she frequently made soda bread at the same time and both were delicious. The problem was that my mom often made me wait for the […]

  3. […] my son really enjoys Irish soda farls, he absolutely loves and adores currant soda farls, sometimes also called scones. The other […]

  4. Karen Wright says:

    Hello,I have just discovered you. Thankyou for your recipe which I hope to make soon. My mouth watered when I read it and reminded me of my childhood in N.I. Can you please tell me if your measurents are for USA or Europe as I live in Ireland so should I just use a normal 8oz cup for both flour and buttermilk. I understand that cup measurements for dried and wet ingredients are different in USA.
    Regards
    Karen Wright
    Dublin

    • dasrecipes says:

      Hi Karen, I’m in Canada, and I’m pretty sure the cup measurements are the same as the UK although I am not able to say for sure at this time. Give it a try – you should get a sticky but not too wet consistency in your dough.

      I often have to adjust the amount of buttermilk I use depending on the flour. Sometimes, it seems to be drier at times, and needs a bit more buttermilk. I’d love to know how you make out!

      Very sorry for the delay in response; I have not logged in here for a couple of weeks so I did not see your comment.

  5. Nelster says:

    nice. I’ve just moved Stateside and thought I might have needed Soda bread flour which I can’t find here. Good to see a recipe for Soda bread – Norn Irish style

  6. Gerry Lowe says:

    Precisely the same recipe as my mother and grandmother used which I have exported to Grand Cayman, where I live. Don’t mess with my soda bread!! Gerry Lowe

  7. […] Of course, many people will associate garlic bread with an Italian loaf.  Well, if you’ve enjoyed baking your own bread, and have looked at the “No Knead Bread” recipe I posted, I think you might agree that this bread makes for a wonderful garlic spread! It is the bread that is generally used in my house (although this evening, we ran out of this bread and found surprisingly delicious results, using our Irish Soda Farls, here. […]

  8. […] my original recipe for the Irish soda farl, here, it simply calls for flour.  Elsewhere, I’ve written about the improvement of using cake and […]

  9. Jamie O'Flaherty says:

    Hello!

    I just found your blog and after reading your recipe on Farls, went directly to the kitchen.

    As I type this they’re cooling under a tea towel.

    My dad taught me the proper way to bake true traditional Irish Soda Bread and while learning for myself and trying different methods, I’m sure I’ve caused at least one world shortage of flour!

    I look forward to more reading on your blog and discussing things.

    Where in Canada are you? I’m in far eastern Newfoundland so possible closer to Ireland than I am to you.

    Be well

    Jamie.

    • dasrecipes says:

      So sorry for the late reply, Jamie! I have not logged in here for awhile, and don’t think I ever received any comment notifications.

      Haha.. at the flour shortage comment 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying lots of soda bread and farls!

      My mom always tried to make us wait until they cooled down. Ahh.. hot off the griddle with melting butter is best, I think! 🙂

  10. Eunan says:

    i’ve used this recipe extensively – the only thing i changed was the volume of buttermilk. I make the dough nice and wet, before rolling it out and shaping it. This was how my grandma made soda farls.

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