Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Traditional Irish Soda Farls

I was scanning through my tweets while relaxing in front of a roaring fire in the sitting room, when I came across this tweet.

@KatieBe_NC .@IrishFoodies Looking for type of flat Irish bread made on top of stove in cast-iron skillet. Can any foodies help?

That's how it all started, an innocent plea for help from Katie Bension from North Carolina over the days of Christmas. What was this bread she was talking about, her father remembered his mother making it and he called it "Pan Bread", it was cooked on top of a cooker in a skillet (frying pan). I offered my Potato Bread recipe, but pan bread was thicker so I offered an alternative, my Brown Soda Bread recipe but it is cooked in a oven, so no use. More information was needed, Katie offered this, her grandmother was from Monaghan originally, well it did help because my husband is also from Monaghan so the riddle was solved. It was griddle bread also known as soda farls. My parents then explained that they too remembered their mother's making it and that it was a white soda bread recipe that was cooked in a shallow 3 legged covered pot over an open fire. My father remembers his mother placing hot coals on the lid to cook both top and bottom at the same time. Unfortunately Granny Heffernan's 3 legged pot finished out it's days feeding chickens in the chicken coop. I found this recipe on an Northern Ireland recipe website and this is their history of the elusive bread.

Soda Farls, in Northern Ireland, are likely to be eaten as part of an Ulster Fry. They are usually fried and mixed with potato bread, sausages, bacon, eggs, black pudding and tomatoes when eaten as part of this breakfast favourite. When making the Soda Farls, the dough is rolled out and flattened into a circle about eight inches in diameter and cut into four pieces (farls) as if slicing a cake. They are called farls because this is the term given to a triangular piece of baking. After the soda bread dough is cut into farls, it is usually baked in a dry frying pan or on a griddle. Traditionally this was the quickest and easiest way to make a light snack for unexpected friends and family who dropped in for a bit of craic (good fun). You can also eat them fresh with butter and jam. They are washed down well with a good mug of tea. The recipe, below, for farls can also be used to make soda bread or cake as well, which is more commonly eaten in Southern Ireland.

Makes: 4 Soda Farls

450g Plain flour (All-Purpose flour)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
300-320ml Buttermilk

‬Preheat heavy based flat griddle, skillet or frying pan on medium to low heat. ‬Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in baking soda. Make a well shape in the centre, and pour in enough buttermilk to bring the dough together.

Quickly mix the dough together and knead very lightly on a well floured bench.

Make into a flattened circle, about 1/2 inch thick and cut into quarters (farls) with a floured knife.

‬Sprinkle some flour over the base of the hot pan and cook the farls for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until golden brown. If you undercook they will be soggy.

Very tasty with real butter and jam.


  1. A little additional information regarding "farls". Farl is a term meaning "quarter", as in quarter of a round. The triangular shape results from cutting the round into four parts, or farls. The soda of Northern Ireland.

    1. Thank you very much for that, I will pass that onto my father, he will enjoy that extra tidbit of info.