Paul Rankin is the high street go to for all your Irish bakery products, in fact if he wasn’t there I’m not sure where you’d go to pick up a barmbrack when the need arose. I’ve experienced his products (made by Irwins) on a number of occasions and broadly speaking they’re pretty good if not outstanding, which is standard for the majority of mass produced supermarket products where mediocrity reigns supreme. There was one time when he deviated from the bakery and dipped his toe into butchery to create some sausages which were not good, so I’m sticking with the bread.
In recent times the Rankin packaging has changed from a photo of Paul’s face to an illustrated picture of him. I don’t know what the thinking behind this was as the previous photo wasn’t creepy like the one on Paul Hollywood packaging is, but Paul Rankin looks suitably happy and hirsute so I’ll go with it.
When I picked up the soda farls I was a bit confused about whether or not I’d already reviewed them as each product in the range is a variation on another and they all start to sound the same in the end. To name a few there’s Irish Brown Soda Bread, Irish Soda Farls, Irish Potato Farls, Irish Fruit Soda, and Irish Fruit Loaf. It tuens out I hadn’t tried the Irish Soda Farls before, just the Irish Potato Farls and the Irish Fruit Soda so it was time to try the latest Irish bread experience.
The packet says there are “approximately 4 portions” which suggests someone is either really bad at approximations or they’re really stingy. There are two farls and therefore very accurately two portions or if you’re mean and only serving half a farl then very accurately four portions! The packaging then contradicts itself a little with a quote from Paul which says “Simply slice down the middle, toast, butter and add lots of bacon… I’d say one of the world’s best bacon sandwiches.” this sounds to me very much like one bacon sandwich, involving one farl and consequently one portion so even Paul is confused as to what he should be recommending.
The farls are like springy door stops and are made of 42% buttermilk alongside a few e numbers, palm oil and wheat flour. I sliced it in half, slathered with butter and topped with a poached egg. The farl didn’t have masses of flavour but it had a good light texture and for soaking up butter and mopping up salty egg yolk it was the perfect vehicle. It was essentially fat toast and who doesn’t like some fat toast on occasion? Compared to your usual mass produced bread product this is a step up, it’s a million miles from an artisan loaf, but in the marketplace of mediocrity where it is competing it more than holds it’s own.
Paul Rankin Traditional Irish Soda Farls – Can’t remember how much about a quid for two.