An Improved Northern Irish Soda Farl

brodie self raising cake pastry flourThe title of this is a bit misleading; it would be difficult to improve upon the simplicity and taste of an Irish soda farl the way it’s been made for a couple of centuries a more.  Three or four simple ingredients, the right amount of heat, and you end up with a very tasty bread “cake” that is delicious hot off the griddle and slathered with melting butter.

However, as pointed out in this post, “The Trouble With Wheat,” North American wheat is not the same as Irish wheat. As a result, using all-purpose flour in North America will not provide you with a soda farl that is nearly the same as those you might find in Ireland, either in the south or North.

There is a way around this however, for those of us in North America who want to replicate the taste and texture as close as possible to the real thing. And that is instead of using All-Purpose Flour, use Cake and Pastry Flour. It is a bit more expensive but the end result is a better soda farl in North America.

In 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 pastry flour – however, I’ve been using something that is even an improvement upon that!

In Canada in many grocery stores, a brand of flour called “Brodie” is available that is a “Self Raising” cake and pastry flour. What this means is that it already has the salt and baking soda (or baking powder which contains baking soda) mixed in and pre-sifted.

For the person longing for a genuine Irish style soda farl, it means the only other ingredient you need is buttermilk. You don’t have to worry about sifting baking powder or soda and salt with your flour and it makes it that much easier to make the farls.

flour in mixing bowl

Self Raising Cake & Pastry Flour In Mixing Bowl

In fact, it is so easy that I do not even bother measuring the ingredients when I make soda farls with this flour! All I do is basically eye up the quantity of flour as I pour it into a mixing bowl, make a well in the flour, and pour in buttermilk and start mixing.  If I’ve not added enough buttermilk, I’ll splash a bit more in until the dough is the right consistency.  If I’ve added too much buttermilk (which is rare), all I have to do is sprinkle in flour into the dough until the correct consistency has been achieved.

It’s that easy that even my 11 year old son can do it and there is no need for measuring cups or measuring spoons.

However, if you insist on a recipe, it’s pretty close to:

  • 2 cups Self Raising Cake & Pastry Flour
  • 1 cup Buttermilk

Pour Buttermilk Into “Well” Made In The Flour

But even this is a guideline. Sometimes, flour will be drier than at other times, and a bit more buttermilk will be needed. What is better than simply following a recipe is  getting to know the consistency of the dough that you like to make soda farls with.  Once you have that down, you’ll never need to measure ingredients as long as you are using self raising cake and pastry flour.

I do not know if Brodie XXX Self Raising Cake & Pastry flour is available outside of Canada, so what do you do if you don’t live there?

Simple – get Homepride Self Raising Flour From Amazon.  But this does not contain salt so you may want to consider adding some if you enjoy your soda farls a touch on the savoury side.

More Reading:

Northern Irish Soda Farls

The Trouble With Wheat

Currant Soda Farls


Home Made Garlic Bread Is So Easy

I’m sometimes surprised how many people will go out and purchase a loaf of prepared garlic bread from the grocery store instead of making their own. It is such an easy thing to make at home and the nice thing is you can control how much garlic you use.

Indeed, I find most of the grocery store loaves to be usually quite short on both butter and garlic.  And there may be fancier ways to make it, but one of the dumbest things I can ask my son is, “Hey, would you like garlic bread?” I mean… I already know the answer. I just ask the question for the joy in watching the little dance he does as well as the exclamations of “Yes Dad! Yes Dad! Yes Dad!” over and over.

I have to admit that generally, I keep my recipe pretty simple although at times cheese will also be added. Use your favourite. Some like parmesan; my son loves medium cheddar melted on top of his garlic bread.  I know that some people will also mix in a little olive oil and parsley into the garlic spread that goes onto the bread.

There is one little tool that I have that makes the mincing of the garlic much easier in my opinion. More on that shortly.

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.

So what’s the recipe for the garlic spread?

  • 1/2 cup of softened butter
  • 6 medium sized minced garlic cloves.

You of course could use a higher ratio of garlic if you want (or conversely, a lower ratio).

I just simply thoroughly mix the minced garlic into the butter, spread on slices of bread, and then put them on a pan that is set on the second highest rack level in my oven.  The oven is turned to broil, and they are done in about 8 minutes or so. You may want to keep an eye on it the first time you try it as all ovens are different.

For a variation, I will slice medium cheddar cheese and add that to the bread that is broiling in the oven, about a minute or two before the garlic bread will be ready.

It’s really that simple! Now.. I mentioned an awesome took for mincing garlic…

Best Garlic Mincer

ImageAbout five years ago, I picked this awesome tool up at a local shop that sells kitchen, cooking and baking supplies and I’ve never gone back to using anything else for mincing garlic. It is called a “Garlic Twist” and makes mincing of garlic cloves so easy, with no waste, and so easy to clean up. When you’re done, you just rinse under a tap and then wash and dry. I can mince four or five cloves of garlic at once easily, and simply twisting the cloves through the teeth inside the Garlic Twist gets the job done. When you are finished, you simply pass the teeth through each other by twisting back and forth, and you’ve got minced garlic that isn’t stuck in anything and no holes to clean out.

It’s an ingenious little tool that for me is really worth having with all the garlic that I will mince in a week for meals.

If you’re tired of trying to clean a garlic press, and not sure what to replace your press with – I can highly recommend this to you. It’s virtually unbreakable, and as I wrote above, so easy to clean and doesn’t take up much space at all in the drawer.

You can get it here at Amazon – and I know you will be happy you did!  Garlic Twist.