The 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.
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
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.