You don't have to be born in Ireland to grasp just how fantastic Irish baking is.
Imen McDonnell is an American-born writer who fell for an Irish farmer and then for Irish food. The following recipe is from her outstanding guide to Irish cooking and baking called "The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm."
Soda Farls are made in the North of Ireland on a stovetop griddle for about fifteen to twenty minutes on each side, and they are usually eaten immediately. They're fantastic with butter or homemade jam filled with savory things like bacon or sausages.
How to make traditional Irish Soda Farls
- 3–1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1–1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1–1/4 cups buttermilk (If you don't have buttermilk handy, pour a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into 1-1/4 cup of milk and wait ten minutes).
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the buttermilk gradually, bringing the dough together with a mixing spoon. This recipe makes a soft dough, but the more buttermilk you incorporate, the better the bread tastes.
Turn the dough out onto a well-flours surface, and knead it gently until you have a smooth round shape, about 2 minutes.
Divide the dough in two, and knead both again to form balls. Roll each out into a fairly thick disk, about 9-inches, and cut into quarters.
Preheat a griddle, cast iron pan, or heavy skillet over medium heat. To check the temperature of the pan, dust with a little flour. Once the flour starts to turn a tan color, brush it off, and turn the heat to low. Your griddle is now ready.
Place the farls on the griddle until golden brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5-10 minutes. The farls will rise into triangular pillows. Test for doneness by pressing the middle, if they still hold the indent of your finger, you must flip and continue to cook until firm.
Cool the cooked farls on a wire rack, cover with a damp tea towel to keep them soft or uncovered if prefer a drier crust. Slather in fresh butter and honey or marmalade to boost the flavor.
* Originally published in July 2020, updated in March 2023.