Spud Sunday: My Name Is Farl

Traditional Irish Potato Cakes

Sunday morning potato goodness

Sometimes Sundays should just be about potato cakes, big old fry-ups and mugs of tea. That was about where my Sunday was at today, I can tell ya.

Traditional Irish potato cakes are simplicity itself – boiled potatoes, melted butter, flour and salt, mixed together, sometimes with a little milk, shaped into wedges or patties and cooked on a griddle. Depending on which part of the country you’re in, they are referred to variously as potato cakes, potato farls, potato bread or fadge. Regardless of what they are called, they are as indispensable to an Ulster Fry as bacon and eggs, but, as Biddy-White Lennon notes in her Best of Irish Potato Recipes, they are, for reasons which escape me, not part of the classic Full Irish Breakfast lineup. No matter. They were front and centre in my breakfast lineup today and that’s what counts.

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Slightly Indianised Irish Potato Cakes (or Farls)

You’ll see many slight variations on the basic spuds + flour + butter formula for potato cakes.

My Ma says she would never really have used measurements for potato cakes because the amount of flour absorbed would depend on the starchiness of the potatoes, so enough was added to make a workable dough. The amount of flour added is also a matter of taste – cakes made with less flour will be moister and probably rolled more thickly. The amount of butter is a taste thing too. You can reduce the amount used here and replace with a little milk if you like.

To spice the potato cakes, I added a little cayenne pepper and some toasted cumin seeds. For traditional potato cakes, just leave them out.

You’ll need:
  • 450g potatoes, preferably a floury variety
  • approx. 100g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
You’ll also need:
  • A potato ricer is handy for mashing the spuds (and for a general low-down on mashed potatoes, see here)
The Steps:
  • Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse them under cold water.
  • Bring about 1l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 1 tsp salt and the potato slices.
  • Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 15-20 minutes or until just fork-tender.
  • While they’re simmering, place a small, heavy frying pan over a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and dry fry them for 4-5 minutes or until they have darkened slightly and are fragrant.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the 0.5 tsp salt and cayenne pepper.
  • Drain the potatoes and cover with a tea-towel for 5 minutes or more or return to the heat and stir gently for a minute or so, so that they dry out.
  • If you have a potato ricer, push the potatoes through that into a large bowl, or mash gently with a masher or fork. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture to the potatoes and mix gently to form a soft dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll to a thickness of between 0.5cm-1cm. Cut into pieces of whatever shape you wish – triangular wedges are traditional but not obligatory.
  • Place a griddle or heavy frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, cook the potato cakes in batches on the ungreased pan until lightly browned, around 2-4 minutes on each side.
  • Serve straight from the pan or keep warm in a low oven. Serve with a little butter and whatever other fried items you care to add.
The Variations:
  • I would have added some chopped fresh coriander to these cakes if I’d had some. On the other hand, for a truly traditional Irish potato cake, you’d omit the cayenne and cumin and you could instead, if you like, add some chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives or parsley.
The Results:
  • This made around 12 potato cakes, each about 7-8cm square(-ish)
Comments
  • Those look great!

  • Smack in the kisser- you hit me in a weak spot. I love potato cakes and of course these look divine. I can always make room for them. Thanks for the delicious recipe, and of course I love the addition of cumin.

  • Nice. I’ve had potato cakes in quite a while. I love the Indian twist to this Irish version.

    My word caption for today is “eloquent o’rourke”

  • Oh, I see many farl interpretations in my future! I love stuff like this–simple and potatoey and open to endless variations. I just love it at your place, DS!

  • Just want to check in and see what’s happening in spudland! I love potato cakes and since I can’t use flour I use those boxed instant potato flakes instead (I am always so embarrassed buying them at the store but they work well!) These sound delish!

  • VeggieGirl: hey there, thanks for stopping by & be assured that they taste good too :)

    OysterCulture: y’know I love ‘em too and don’t make them half often enough!

    jenn: eloquent o’rourke – brilliant – that can be your adopted Irish name :D

    Jenni: …and I love having you over to visit, must do it in person sometime :)

    Carol: Hey there cookbook-author-to-be! I was actually just wondering to myself how these would work with a gluten-free flour – they are sometimes made with fine oatmeal (which may not be completely gf) but I might try them out with brown rice flour or somesuch. Have not tried with boxed instant potato flakes (but there again, I would say that!)

  • Ooooh yum! How comforting. And I love the Indian twist. Will definitely make these in the next week or two.

  • I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making farl. Perhaps this is just the push I need. Love the addition of cumin and cayenne to the mix, Spud, they look heavenly!

  • I want to eat that RIGHT NOW! Seriously.

    My word captcha is “the hotcakes”. I think it is a sign.

  • These sound awesome with the addition of cumin & cayenne! Excellent!

  • A classic favorite! Love them with the Indian spices!

  • aoife mc: enjoy (and, yay, there’s no pastry involved :) )

    Diva: do give them a go – they’re pretty quick (& very satisfying!) to put together

    Annabelle: the hotcakes? that is more than a sign, that is an order!

    Natasha: yep, it’s traditional with a twist :)

    Reeni: a classic definitely!

  • Potato cakes are indeed comfortable simplicity. Of course cumin and cayenne make them perfect. But you already knew that. GREG

  • Oooooh – so lovely and golden! Is that the slight glistening of creamy butter? Farl and away the best-looking potato cakes I’ve ever seen. My favorite part of your recipe has to be, “Serve with a little butter and whatever other fried items you care to add.” I’m on it . . . !

  • Gosh those look so yummy.Like the indian twist.I think I’ll play with the chive and parsley suggestion for Sundays breakfast. I can see them being snatched off the pan as fast as I cook them.

  • Sorry should say. Can’t wait for Sunday morning to try these with parsley and chives, and creamy scrambled eggs.

  • SippitySup: my guess is that there are many versions of the perfect potato cake – these ones were just perfect for last Sunday morning…

    Tangled Noodle: yes, that is indeed the slight glistening of kerrygold – now get fryin’! :)

    Theresa: hi there and thanks for dropping in – I might just have to drop in to your place this Sunday if there are potato cakes and creamy scrambled eggs on offer :)

  • I am over here to see what I am missing out on, darn, I am Indianized too! Those look so good too!

  • Hey Chef E, thought you would approve of the Indianising!

  • I like the South Asian touch. These would compliment my Garam Masala neep (swede) soup.

  • Hi mangocheeks, thanks for dropping in! I will have to check out your soup, it does sound like they would compliment each other nicely.

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  • [...] followed The Daily Spud’s Potato Farl recipe to the t, although I didn’t add the cumin seeds to the dough mixture.  I ended up [...]

  • [...] for use with potatoes. I would quite happily eat gobs of this with roast spuds, oven baked chips or fried potato cakes, mix it with mashed potato, stir it through a plate of gnocchi, swirl it into a bowl of potato [...]

  • [...] served these up with The Daily Spud’s amazing Indian spiced Potato Farls, which went really well with the Shakshuka because of the cross-over cumin [...]

  • [...] are few things in life that aren’t improved by the addition of potato – a fry-up, a proper linguine alla genovese … even, if Delia is to be believed, a chocolate cupcake. [...]

  • [...] I not feel right at home in a country that serves me tattie scones for breakfast – my beloved potato cakes by another name. Tattie scone from Arran's Kinloch [...]

  • [...] True to form, I could not resist including a spud or two, so the whole thing perched grandly on a potato farl, and, with that, the makeover was over and breakfast, finally, was had. All that remained was for [...]

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  • I just came across these after googling potato cakes – they look fantastic.

  • Glad you like the look of them S. Loanie!

  • [...] served these up with The Daily Spud’s amazing Indian spiced Potato Farls, which went really well with the Shakshuka because of the cross-over cumin [...]

  • @SarpoUK @ModernFarmette @ChristinaCucina potato cakes / farls would be our equiv. 2 tattie scones, similar composition http://t.co/eRhwPHv1

  • @goodshoeday for all things potato you need @DailySpud here’s her recipe http://t.co/wZLCnM6d

  • […] traditional, the Ulster Fry does feature, as does his Mammy’s recipe for potato bread (or potato farls, depending on your terminological […]

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