Forget green beer. Celebrate Ireland with soda farls and a fry this St. Patrick's Day

Soda farls are an integral part of an Ulster fry, or Irish breakfast.  (Submitted by Aoife Rafferty - image credit)
Soda farls are an integral part of an Ulster fry, or Irish breakfast. (Submitted by Aoife Rafferty - image credit)

Irish pubs will be packed on St. Patrick's Day as Canadians celebrate the most Irish day of the year.

But those looking for a more low-key, family-friendly way to acknowledge the day might want to try something a little different this year: a traditional Ulster fry, also known as the Irish breakfast.

Eggs, sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, baked beans, mushrooms and a slice of tomato all adorn the plate of an Ulster Fry.

But no traditional Irish breaky is complete without soda farls.

England has a similar full breakfast, but CBC producer Jennifer Wilson, who hails from Northern Ireland, says it's not quite the same.

"Theirs has one fatal flaw — no soda farls," she said.

Soda farls are a flat bread cut into four and cooked on a cast iron griddle. It's low cost and easy to make.

Farls are eaten across the island of Ireland, but in the north Wilson says they're eaten with "a regularity bordering on obsession."

"We pine for them when we're abroad," she said, before describing how they should be best served: "A crispy top layer dripping with melted Irish butter."

Submitted by Aoife Rafferty
Submitted by Aoife Rafferty

If you want to taste what all the fuss is about, Vancouver's Bandit Bakery — owned by Irish expat Gart Harte — is a good bet.

"A lot of people say we don't have good culinary skills back home," says Harte, 32.

"But we do breakfast superbly."

Harte started The Bandit Baker as a pop-up business and has had success selling simple but authentic baked goods —including, of course, soda farls — to the local Irish community.

Harte's partner Aoife Rafferty recalls how he vowed not to have anything to do with Ireland when they moved to Canada from Ireland.

"He was like, 'absolutely not ... I've come to different country to experience new culture,'" Rafferty said.

But soon, they began to miss the food — including, of course, soda farls.

Below is one of Harte's takes on the traditional bread.

Gary Harte's pesto cheese soda farls 


  • 400 g all purpose flour

  • 1½ cups buttermilk

  • 1½ tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of pesto

  • 100 g grated cheddar


Add the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.

Make a well in the middle of the flour, and add half the buttermilk, and add the pesto to the milk and mix together.

With a fork or your hand, start to mix the dough together. Add the rest of the milk a bit at a time until dough comes together. The mix will be wet.

Add flour onto a table, then tip out the dough, dust the top and start to gently form into a ball shape. Roll out the dough to be about an inch thick. Cut into four quarters.

Add a little flour to a cast iron skillet or heavy-based pan over a medium to low heat. Once the flour starts to colour add the soda farls and cook for four to five minutes per side.

Let them cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

Submitted by Aoife Rafferty
Submitted by Aoife Rafferty