Soda farls

Caroline Workman's scrumptious soda bread is one of Northern Ireland's unique griddle breads and is particularly delicious eaten fresh from the griddle or pan
Soda farls
  • Rating:
  • Serves: makes 8 farls
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 450 g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tsp cream of tartar
  • 20 ml vegetable oil, or nut oil
  • 284 ml carton buttermilk, preferably organic

Tips and Suggestions

The secret to this recipe, given to me by Robert Ditty, Northern Ireland's best known baker, is in the sifting of the dry ingredients - the more you sift, the more fluffy the texture. Not everyone uses oil or fat in their recipe. (Older bakers used shortening.) Mr Ditty finds that it brings together all the ingredients, improving the 'crumb' and preventing a closer, stodgier texture than you would achieve without it. These breads turn into completely different products when preservatives or additives are used to prolong their shelf life, which is why you must travel to Northern Ireland, or make your own to experience the real thing.


1. Sieve all the dry ingredients 3-4 times into a mixing bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre, gradually add the buttermilk nad oil and bring the dough together.

3. The dough will be quite soft, but the more buttermilk you incorporate, the better the bread tastes.

4. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and give it a short, gentle kneading until you have a nice round shape.

5. Divide the dough into 2 and knead both halves to form round balls.

6. Roll these out fairly thickly to about 25cm in diameter and cut into quarters.

7. Preheat the griddle or pan. To check the temperature, dust with flour. Once it starts to colour, brush off and turn the heat down. Your griddle is now ready.

8. Place the farls onto the griddle and once you have a good colour on one side (2-3 minutes) flip over and cook for 5-10 minutes. The farls will rise into puffy pillows.

9. Test by pressing the middle, if they are still squidgy, flip over and continue cooking to bake out the centre of raw dough.

10. Cool on racks covered with a damp tea towel to keep soft, or uncovered if you prefer a dryer crust.

11. To serve ; farls are delicious with butter and homemade jams, or with savoury foods such as smoked salmon, bacon or fried eel - the hot fish melts the butter and the textures work very well together.

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