Monday, 27 October 2008

Traditional Irish Breads

It's Autumn. The leaves are gold and red. The days are shortening and there's a nip in the air. Just the weather to get out the griddle and make some local bread. I make all my own bread of the yeast variety and I love doing it. What is it about throwing together soda farls potato farls wheaten bread and pancakes that is so comforting. They are rarely given time to cool but the vultures are on them. If there are any left they are great in an Ulster fry. Trust me the English don't know what a fry up is until they have tasted an Ulster. I have guests come from across the water trembling lest they don't get their fix of an Ulster fry but that is another story and another blog. Farls, the word comes from the Scottish Fardel meaning a quarter or fourth part. It is used by the Irish to describe their griddle bread. The Scots got very posh and and started to call them scones. A griddle traditionally was hung on a huge hook over the hearth fire to make these breads hence the big hooped handle. They are a pain to store and a nuisance when the handle loosens as it will over time and keeps crashing down. We have moved on here and manage on hobs. A big frying pan will do. You can buy griddles with frying pan handles now. They are just very shallow and flat. The one basic ingredient you need to make these breads is buttermilk. If you can't get it easily just add some lemon juice or vinegar to ordinary milk and wait ten or twenty minutes. It makes a good substitiute.

Potato Farls

A great way to use up last night's left over mashed potatoes. You can of course boil them up fresh for the occasion but if you are anything like me you will always have left over mash.
Knead the mash until it becomes like a soft dough.
Use about a third of it's volume in plain flour.
Knead again to combine. It will become easier as the flour is incorporated.
Roll out into a circle about 1.5cms thick and place in the hot griddle pan .
Cut a deep cross in it to divide in four.
Bake for three or four minutes
Flip over to do the other side.
Remove to a cooling rack and watch them disappear. Lovely fried later too with eggs and bacon

Soda Farls

This can also be used as oven soda. It's not so popular as the wholemeal variety known as wheaten bread. Soda farls done on the griddle are the thing. They are so good split and toasted too.
Don't bother with recipes that tell you to use a pound of flour. Far too much. The farls will be too thick and take too long to cook.

12 oz/325gms plain flour
1oz/25gms butter
1 teasp salt
1 teasp baking soda
1-2 teasps sugar
Approx 1/2 pint 250 mls Buttermilk.
In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients
Rub in the butter
Add enough buttermilk to make a firm but soft dough (think scone here) err on the side of dryness. You do not want it wet.
Knead quickly and lightly on a well floured surface and roll into a round about 1/2 inch/1.2 cms thick.
Place on the griddle and cut deeply into four. Cook for about 5-7 mins on each side.
Split one of the farls to check if they are done. The dough will be dry inside.
Don't worry too much if they don't go quite right the first time. Sometimes the griddle can be too hot or the dough too wet. A good way to see if the griddle is hot enough is to sprinkle flour on and it will brown quickly when the griddle is hot enough.
Remove to a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel. Eat them while still warm. Toast or fry them later with an egg

Buttermilk Pancakes

These can of course be made with sweet milk and baking powder but somehow they are not the same.

40z/100gms plain flour
pinch salt
1 teasp baking soda
1oz/25gms caster sugar
1 egg
1/4 pint/150mls buttermilk

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until smooth.
Heat the griddle or frying pan over a moderate heat then rub the surface with white fat (not butter as it will burn)
Drop tablespoons of the batter onto the pan spaced well apart.
When they start to go bubbly flip them over with a spatula and cook the other side for a minute or two.
Keep them warm in a tea towel while you cook the rest. They won't last long mind you.
If there are any left they are also nice with the Ulster fry when they are past their best.

Just make sure you have the butter dish to hand. It doesn't take long to churn out all three breads. Might as well since the pan is on anyway.

This is the link for the Oven Brown Soda./Wheaten Bread. This can be done as farls too but it is much nicer baked as a loaf. For some reason these farls are not so popular as the plain soda.

Irish scones are also made with buttermilk. They are lovely and light. You can find the recipe here.
You might as well as you'll have the oven on making the wheaten bread anyway and there will be flour all over the place as it is.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great collection of wonderful breads! Delicious!



Oh my! Apple pie! said...

I want to come to your house for tea! ;)
I love potato farls (or scones,lol), I make extra mash just so I am able to make these.

RecipeGirl said...

My mother in law loves when I dig up traditional Irish recipes... will be checking these out! I can't believe you make all of your own breads- that's terrific!

Indigo said...

Oh wow, so many beautiful breads! I love this sort of thing - I remember staying at my friend's house one time (they were originally from Ireland) and her mum making soda bread in the morning; I was in awe, haha!

jaygirl said...

They all look blooming lovely, are your potato farls just like a thick tattie scone?

Coby said...

Wish I had Irish heritage! Granny thank you for sharing:) I have no doubt these breads would be gone in the blink of an eye:) Love the idea of an Ulster fry up...I'm ordering one for when I come visit one day:D

Anonymous said...

Ahh now Brenda you've got me longing after an Irish fry! Those breads look divine.

Rhyleysgranny said...

Thank you all.
Erica we'll not fall out over the "scones" LOL :)

Recipegirl I hope your mother in law likes these :)

Indigo now you can make your own:)

Rita They are the same. Mine justsometimes just end up thicker than they should be ;)

Coby I will swing the pan when you come. No probs. :)

George Forget the Irish fry and try the full Ulster. I have never met anyone south of the border who doesn't prefer it :)

Anonymous said...

A very enjoyable read, Brenda! reminds me of the breakfasts we had on our first visit to Southern Ireland some years back, stayed at farmhouses, the soda-bread was worth getting up for!

Linda F said...

Granny, those breads look so gorgeous, I am going to have to give one or two a go when I get back to cooking!

Y said...

I love farls. Look forward to trying your recipe, as I've tried many, and haven't discovered a soda bread recipe that I truly truly like yet.

Rosie said...

Brenda those breads look stunning!! I must try some of these breads out - many thanks for sharing sweetie :)

Rosie x

Kelly Thos Shay said...

I really enjoy your blog - Coming from a traditional Celtic cuisine background myself- I really appreciate what you are doing and writing about..... Maybe we could collaborate some time

Anonymous said...

Hiya Granny,
I'm after a good basic wheaten bread recipe. Can you help at all? I make sodas and potato farls all the time but have been a bit intimidated by the auld wheaten - partly because instinctively I don't trust recipes by non Norn Irish people described as brown soda etc!

Also can you recommend a good flour to use? I live in London now so it's difficult to get Irish brands here but if needs be I can get some the next time home.

Thanks. I think your site is wonderful, truly inspirational and I wished I' discovered it sooner!

Rhyleysgranny said...

A McM - Thank you for your kind words. I have just posted my most recent Wheaten bread. If you don't want the oats just leave them out and add some more flour. I use any wholemeal flour. My favourite being Sainsburys stoneground. Let me know how you get on. I apologise for the delay in answering. x