Can I Still Call Them Soda Farls?

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northern irish style soda farls cooking in a pan

Personally, I’m not impressed with the idea of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) laws – for example, its not legal in some parts of the world to call a feta style cheese made outside of Greece, “Feta Cheese.” The fact is, that style of cheese has been made for centuries outside of the present borders of Greece.

So, whenever someone makes what they call “Northern Irish Soda Farls,” I don’t get all technical on the fact that they may not have used Irish soft wheat, or enjoyed them with Irish butter melted and dripping when the farls are hot off the griddle.

I love soda farls but many back in North America make them with all-purpose flour which is generally a harder flour than what they would be made with in Northern Ireland. To be more authentic, one should try a cake and pastry flour to enjoy them.

Recently, I discovered a Greek flour called “Zea” (Triticum dicoccum) sometimes called “emmer” or farro. It’s a grain that used to be consumed regularly, centuries ago, but today it seems it is mostly used to make some specialty pastas. I had some pasta that was made with Zea, really enjoyed it, and thought to find out more about it. I discovered I could purchase the flour (along with dried black beans, kidney beans that are hard to find in Greece), here.

When the flour arrived, I wondered what it would be like to make a different version of Soda Farls; today I found out. Using this recipe as a guide, and a buttermilk I cultured myself with this, I found I needed to add a bit more flour using the 1 cup of buttermilk called for.

There were a couple of issues – including the fact the soda farls did not rise as much as I am used to, but I am not sure if that is because of the flour, or perhaps the baking soda I had on hand may be old and losing some potency. Also, my buttermilk turned out considerably thicker than I like, but all in all, I ended up with a very tasty Ancient Greek soda farl!

One thing that is easy to come by here in Greece is genuine Irish butter – and to me, there are three ways one much enjoy a soda farl:

  • Hot off the griddle, sliced open and a big hunk of butter spread all over, allowing the butter to melt all over and into the slices
  • Cooled down, with honey or fruit jam.
  • Warm or cool, with a slice of cheddar (Dubliner cheese is great).
  • Sliced into two pieces, and fried up in bacon fat along with an Ulster Fry

Well, the first thing I did when these were cooked of course, was to try that first option. Of course, they did not taste like a Northern Irish Soda Farl made with soft wheat flour, but they were very tasty and delicious. So tasty, I had two. Here’s the first one:

butter melting into two slices of a northern irish style soda farl

But now I want to keep a few for later, when I’ll fry up some bacon and eggs, and fried soda farls.

A Little Bit More About Zea Flour

My research indicates that this ancient grain used to be preferred in Greece, Italy, and other European countries more than Durham and other wheats. It was believed that this grain would give warriors strength, and they’d often make a drink with it, mixing it with water and guzzling it back.

Apparently, it’s great for those who suffer with a gluten intolerance and has many nutritional advantages over wheat flour, including 40% more potassium and significant more protein and fiber.

And now we know we can make a Northern Irish Soda Farl style as well – but can we call them that? What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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