My Granny Blacker with my brother, my cousin and myself on the right circa 1972
This is my maternal grandmother’s recipe for Soda Farls. She baked these every day in life, asking my grandfather every day what he would like for his ‘tea’ when regardless of the answer it was always Soda Farls. My grandparents lived in the country near Portadown in County Armagh. Granny Blacker died in 1973 at the age of 75 when I was just 3. I inherited her name and her love of baking . This is the easiest soda bread to make and often features in my Traditional Irish Baking classes.
10 oz plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking soda (too much turns the bread yellow)
Pinch of salt
Approximately ¼ – ½ pint buttermilk
Makes 4 farls
Wide heavy based frying pan or griddle
Sieve the flour and baking soda into a large bowl.
Add salt and aerate well with hands.
Make a well in the centre and add most of the buttermilk and mix in with your hand.
Add enough milk to make a soft dough (almost wet). Turn out onto a well floured surface.
Knead very lightly (without applying pressure) into a round shape.
Press down to flatten a little and then cut into four.
Meanwhile heat the pan on a gentle heat and dust with flour, when the flour starts to colour the pan is hot enough.
Place the farls on the pan and cook on a gentle heat until nicely coloured on one side, then turn over and cook until coloured on the other side. It will take about 15 minutes on each side.
Prop the farls on their sides to cook the sides a little.
Then remove from the pan and wrap in a clean tea towel.
You can use Soda flour on it’s own instead of plain flour and baking soda.
Cream of tartar is an acid and reacts with bicarbonate of soda to raise a mixture.
Bicarbonate of soda is an alkali and reacts with an acid (buttermilk or lemon juice) to raise a mixture.
Baking powder is a combination of cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda and some other base flour (rice or corn flour) which reacts with moisture (milk or eggs) to raise a mixture. So when making a cake it is essential to put it immediately into a hot oven.
We have a wonderful culture of home baking in Northern Ireland and celebrating the best of Northern Irish produce lies at the heart of my Traditional Irish Baking classes.
We use lovely local and seasonal produce, including local butter, flours milled in Northern Ireland, buttermilk, free range eggs from my mother’s hens, Bramley apples from County Armagh where my family have long been involved in the apple business, Rose hips, Damsons, Elderflower and Blackberries from the hedgerows, crab apples from my own garden and potatoes of course!
These are hands-on baking classes using lovely authentic baking recipes handed down by the generations of women (not least my own grandmother) who baked every day and that are still relevant and baked daily in homes all over N. Ireland.