Soda Farls

Northern Ireland has its own signature take on soda bread in the form of farl wedges, derived from the Gaelic word fardel, roughly translated to “four part.” Though they’re traditionally baked on an open-hearth flame, we baked our farls on the more modern griddle. In keeping with the methods of the Old World, though, we harned the dough—turning and cooking the sides of the farl to make sharp, crisp edges. You can find more authentic soda bread recipes in our Authentic Ireland July/August 2020 issue.

Soda Farls
 
Makes 4 farls
Ingredients
  • 1⅔ cups (208 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed and divided
  • ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons (225 grams) whole buttermilk
  • Herb Compound Butter (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Using your fingers, cut in 2 tablespoons (28 grams) cold butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Make a well in center, and add buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir buttermilk into dry ingredients, working from center to outside of bowl, just until combined and a dough forms.
  2. Turn out dough onto a heavily floured surface, and flour top of dough. Using floured hands, tuck and rotate dough until edges are rounded and even. Pat into an 8-inch circle (½-inch thickness). Using a knife dipped in flour, cut into quarters.
  3. Preheat a cast-iron griddle to medium heat. (See Note.) Add remaining 1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter to griddle.
  4. Brush and shake off any excess flour from dough quarters, and place, not touching, on hot griddle. Cook until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. (Bread will double in size and puff up; if you want a neater look, use knife or bench scraper to keep edges straight.) Turn, and cook until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. (If you tap bottom of loaf, it should sound hollow.) Stand each farl on its side, and place side by side. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes; repeat with remaining 2 sides. Serve warm with Herb Compound Butter.
Notes
*A 12-inch cast-iron skillet will work, too. Cook farls until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

PRO TIP: Like our other soda bread dough, this one is quite sticky, so flour your bench scraper or knife when dividing into four equal wedges.



During the griddle cooking, you’ll know your farl is ready for its first turn once the bread has nearly doubled and is markedly bubbly. This will take 7 to 10 minutes on each side.



Now for the “harning.” You’ll turn the dough and allow it to cook while standing on its side (holding in place with two spatulas, if necessary) for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining sides for a perfectly sharp-edged golden triangle of a farl.


Herb Compound Butter
 
Makes ½ cup
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (113 grams) salted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon (1 gram) lemon zest
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Let stand until softened before serving.

 

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