Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ever Heard of Farls?

Come on over for a Irish flavored tea. No, not Irish whisky flavored, but one given a hint of Ireland because not only are we having some good hot tea (Lady Gray variety in my case, but I have some Irish Breakfast tea if you are feeling traditional) but also Soda Farls, a sort of cross between Irish Soda Bread and Scones. I almost used up the last of my King Arthur Flour Irish-style wheat flour for this but it really add a nice touch since it has more texture than whole wheat flour from the market.

This is pretty plain bread, not at all sweet, but if you enjoy wheat flavor you'll like it. I tried my farl with both butter...a great choice...and some lemon curd homemade and generously given by my quilting friend Judy. She brought it on Boxing Day and it is quite delicious! Because this is not a sweet bread the farls also go quite nicely with soup and stews.

The trick here, as with most quick breads, is to barely combine the ingredients. Over mixing toughens the bread. I doubt that these farls will make it past breakfast tomorrow but I suspect that they are not great keepers, so enjoy as soon as they are cool enough to separate into farls.

Not needing stale soda bread, I made a half of the recipe given in An Irish Country Village, a lovely book about an apprentice doctor in rural Northern Ireland in the late '60s. The housekeeper's name is Kinky Kincaid and she is the one who gives some recipes at the end of the book. If you want to start with the young doctor's introduction to the village then start with An Irish Country Doctor. If you make the full recipe (just double the ingredients) you will probably have to bake it about 30 minutes.

Soda Farls
from An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor

4 oz. all-purpose flour
4 oz. whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, heaped
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 - 8 oz. buttermilk

Sieve dry ingredients into a bowl. Add buttermilk, enough for a soft but not sticky dough. Turn onto a well-floured board and shape into a cake 1 1/2 inches thick. Transfer round to a floured baking sheet (and pat to restore rounded shape if needed). Mark into 4-6 wedges (farls). I marked into 8 wedges & that worked fine, too.

Bake in preheated 400 to 425 degree F oven about 18-20 minutes. Separate farls once bread has cooled.

If preferred, the farls can be cut into wedges & cooked on a floured, gently heated griddle. This is the more traditional method.


These are great eaten warm, with some butter or cheese, but are also delicious split in half and English muffins.


  1. Oh, my goodness, I've made this but I did think I was making soda bread. Making it using stone-ground wheat flour gives possibly a texture near using the Irish wheat.

    It always makes me laugh to realize I've made something which I had no idea had a tie to culture or people other than "Mom used to make this." Of course, this brings the question, WHY was my mother making Irish bread (my father's bad jokes about being Black Irish aside)? This reminds me that we are all in one world, and see the same moon, you know? The commonality of human experience exists to teach us that we're not all that different. Surely our bread is not...

  2. Tanita, You were is a soda bread, just shaped into wedges. I like the philosophy that we are tied together, especially by the moon and bread. Both are what I think of as female icons, too. As far as the origins of your Mom's bread just remember that we ALL started in Africa, even the Celts who settled later in Ireland, Scotland, etc. Just about everyone on earth has common ancestors in ancient ancient Africa. Do you think bread baking goes back that far?

  3. Anonymous7:33 AM

    When I saw the picture, I thought you had made *my* Oat Farl recipe. We love it and always swear we'll make it again sooner. It differs from my Soda Bread recipe because it has no butter, so just the fat that's in low fat buttermilk. Pretty good fiber, too. And not sweet.

    We love to split them like biscuits, the lightly toast in the toaster oven cut side up. Raspberry jam (a really intense one) is good, but even better is Nutella. They're made for each other.

    Eat one for me!

    Love and hugs,

  4. Anonymous7:35 AM

    Hahaha! How did I miss that yours are not made with oats? Oh well.


  5. Natasha, these don't have oats, but I did sub in some Irish whole-meal flour so the fiber stays pretty high...will have to use oats next time. Love the idea of intense raspberry jam with them. Not a Nutella fan...might even be mildly allergic to hazelnuts.