I love soda farls. Speedy Irish soda bread cut into triangles and fried, quicker than the time it would take to go to the shop for bread. And SO fresh. As the name implies, the bread is raised with soda (bicarbonate of) as opposed to yeast, the bicarbonate triggered by the acidity of buttermilk. I have played around with the recipe many times in the past, making black pudding soda farls, bacon soda farls, and farls with spring onions and herbs. These new versions are my current favourite.
Buttermilk can be difficult to source here, real buttermilk at least. In Ireland it is sold in the milk fridge in most shops, even small ones, in litre cartons the same size as milk. Here in the UK, it is more likely to be sold in a small cream carton, if you can find it. No need to worry though, it is easy to replicate it by souring some milk with yogurt, or a squeeze of lemon. Dairy free? No problem either. In fact these farls are dairy free as I am currently on a medical exclusion diet (the details of which are too boring for here). I used coconut milk with a generous squeeze of lemon. The coconut milk replicates the texture of the buttermilk perfectly when diluted down a little with the lemon, and the farls don’t taste remotely coconut-y. Perfect. You can also substitute a good almond milk, or any other dairy free milk of your choice. Just don’t forget the lemon.
Seaweed is terrific, so flavourful and vitamin and mineral rich, it is also extremely sustainable. There are several companies in Ireland harvesting and drying it now, and some in the UK too. I always seek it out. Favourites are kelp for broths (also super popular in Japanese cooking), sea spaghetti (as spaghetti with a tomato sauce – so good!) and dulse, which I use here. Adding seaweed to these farls doesn’t just enhance the flavour by adding a salty umami depth, it also adds fibre and studies indicate that it enhances the population of good bacteria in the gut.
The key driver here though is flavour, and the addition of the cornmeal along with the seaweed transforms the humble farl into something rich and deeply flavoured with a wonderful texture. I used a proper coarse ground polenta from an Italian deli, not the speedy stuff with less flavour. I rarely use it to make polenta, I use it to coat calamari, and use it in pancakes and breads.
Enjoy! And tell me, what do you like to dip in your eggs? I could write a whole book on these possibilities. I love to play with my food, especially my breakfast.
Let’s talk comfort foods, the weather is crap isn’t it?!
Take Me Away
- 150g plain flour
- 75g good proper ground cornmeal (or 75g more plain flour if making without)
- 10g dried dulse seaweed, cut with a scissors into very small segments
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (make sure it is fresh as it loses its fizz as it is exposed to air)
- good pinch of sea salt (bear in mind that the seaweed is also salty)
- 150ml buttermilk or for the dairy free option 150ml coconut milk and a squeeze of lemon
- butter or neutral oil for frying
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