Potato Cakes

This recipe comes from the Breakfasts and High Teas section of the November chapter of the Reader’s Digest Cookery Year (1976). It includes some dishes which I will wait for the return of autumn before trying (Dublin Coddle, Anglesey eggs). Speaking personally, however, there is almost no occasion when flour and potatoes are unwelcome.  This short section was compiled by Theodora Fitz-Gibbon and reflects her interest in food from the north of Britain.

High Tea

The frying pan has been the death of many traditional tea dishes, most of which have been superseded by fried chops and chips [nevermind the 70s, this sounds positively Victorian], sausage and chips, or fish and chips. There are however, many savoury, more easily digestible dishes still served for high tea throughout the country.

Potato cakes

Potato cakes originated in Ireland, but are also known in Scotland and parts of the north [and my kitchen].

Sift 8 oz self-raising flour with 1 tsp salt and rub in 3 oz butter or margarine. Mix in 6oz warm mashed potatoes and add about 2 ½ fluid oz milk to make a soft dough. Roll out, to ½ – 1/3 inch thick, and cut dough into 10 – 12 rounds 3 in across (caraway seeds may be sprinkled on top). Bake the cakes on lightly floured baking trays in a pre-heated oven, at 4 50 degrees (GM8) for 20 – 30 minute. Serve the cakes spilt, spread with butter.


  • I halved the quantities and used a round cutter about 1 ½ inches across. This made 11 cakes. (Of course I ate one before taking the photo – What kind of people do you think write this blog?)
  • I added the milk in 2 stages and didn’t need all of it to make a dough which held together without being too sticky.
  • I brushed the tops with milk in the vague hope that this would make them shiny. It sortof did.

Potato cakes 2


I was slightly disappointed that the cakes didn’t rise more.  I don’t know if this is to do with the age of my S-R flour (I bought it fairly recently…) or because I dropped my already failing kitchen scales on the floor half way through (I am always clumsy and sometimes violent in the kitchen) and had to guess the amount of mash. (I guessed 1 large tablespoon.)Maybe I rolled them out too thinly (definitely closer to 1/3 inch rather than 1/2)? Maybe they’re not supposed to rise very much?

The caraway seeds are a good addition (for those of us who like the taste of aniseed), one which wouldn’t have occurred to me.  Caraway seeds are very strongly flavoured however and a generous photogenic sprinkle is, in fact, too many so it’s a good thing that the milk was not a reliable glue.

Cooked by Elly

5 responses to “Potato Cakes

  1. Your typical irish potato bread/cake (IME) is only about as thick as a scotch pancake, so yours look, if anything, almost *too* risen. Mind you you wouldn’t normally try and split them to spread with butter, so it’s possible these are supposed to rise a bit more.

  2. I’ve made loaves of Proper Irish Potato Bread (TM) before (with yeast, molasses etc) but never farls, although I know what you mean. These seem to me to a scone/cake hybrid.

  3. They look delicious!

  4. They’re a quick and easy change from bread and I am going to experiment with how well they freeze. (Hypothesis: They freeze well.) Also, as the proportions of the recipe are so simple, I can definitely see this as a good way to use up leftover mash.

  5. yes i wouldn’t expect them to be too ris, but then the splitting instruction implies that they might. i wuv tatey cakes though, maybe i’ll give this a go…

    also, best thing to do with leftover mash:

    mix a decent amount of grated cheese into it (cottage cheese kind of works either), spread very thickly on to a slice of toast, grill til crispy and lovely. serve with lashings of tomato ketchup.