Potato Farls or Potato Pancakes

Potato Farls are an essential component of an Ulster fry (cooked breakfast) and for many many years they were the only way I would eat potatoes (I have a bit of a food phobia about potatoes especially mashed potatoes, no idea why and it was a bit of a problem growing up in an Irish family). But I love these little potato pancakes, and I used to make them a lot in my first year at university.

The word farl originates from the Gaelic word fardel meaning four parts and the pancake would have filled the frying pan and split into four quarters. I prefer to make these as small pancakes. I made 30 pancakes using the quantities below for 8 people for brunch. This included 3 teen boys. Everyone thought I’d made too many but I only just managed to save  3 to reheat for breakfast tomorrow (I was aiming to save 4).


  • 1kg peeled floury potatoes
  • 500g self raising flour (or 500g plain and 2 tsps baking powder)
  • 100g butter (50g melted into the potatoes and 50g for frying)


  1. Boil potatoes until a knife goes in cleanly, drain and leave with lid off for the steam to escape.
  2. Mash potatoes thoroughly and add 50g of the butter.
  3. Mix the baking powder into the flour if using plain flour.
  4. Gradually mix in the flour to form a dough.
  5. If making large farls put dough on a floured board and knead the dough before rolling out into rounds about the size of your frying pan.
  6. If making small farls get about 50g in your hand and knead before flattening out in your palm to about 5mm thick.
  7. Heat some of the remaining butter in a frypan (medium to high heat) and add as many pancakes as you can easily fit into the pan (I usually manage 5).
  8. Fry for a few minute on one side then flip over
  9. Cooked farls can be kept warm in the oven until they are all ready.

My favourite way of eating the farls is with a runny fried egg on top. Your eggs should be as freshly laid as possible. We keep 6 chickens in the back garden so our eggs are very fresh.

Irish Apple Cake – Darina Allen Traditional Irish Cooking

I made the apple cake from Darina Allen’s Traditional Irish Cooking again today to have after roast dinner. A much more appropriate time to serve it up. It’s called Irish Apple Cake but really it’s a type of apple pie made with a soft dough-like pastry. The pastry is quick and easy to make with ingredients you’re always likely to have to hand but be careful when handling as it is very soft and easy to tear. I think the egg wash is essential but I never know what to do with the rest of the egg. It’s one of those times when I wish we still kept quail, quail’s eggs are a perfect size for egg washing pastry. I also added cinnamon and nutmeg as the original recipe only had 2-3 cloves and was a bit bland.


  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 110g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 50ml milk
  • 2 cooking apples
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • beaten egg to glaze
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl
  3. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  4. Add 85g sugar, then make a well and mix in milk and beaten egg until it forms a soft dough (you may need to add more flour if the dough is sticky)
  5. Divide into two
  6. Roll out half and place on a greased ovenproof plate
  7. Peel and core cooking apples and slice apples onto dough
  8. Sprinkle remaining sugar and spices onto the top
  9. Roll out other half and place on top
  10. Press edges of pastry/dough together and egg wash
  11. Cook for 40 mins

Darina notes that this would have originally been baked in  a bastible or pot beside an open fire (similar to a dutch oven).

Whiskey Teabread – Irish Traditional Food by Theodora FitzGibbon

It used to be that every halfway decent cook in Ireland had their own closely guarded teabread recipe. Mine comes from Irish Traditional Food by Theodora FitzGibbon and is a failsafe recipe I come back to again and again (sadly this book is out of print, if you’re interested in traditional Irish food you should try and track down a copy). The teabread is really simple to make. This quantity makes 3 loaves, you can scale down but since it keeps three always seems a a good amount (I often give away the third to a friend or neighbour). Whenever I’m going to see my Aunty Josie I know I need to make sure I have a loaf of teabread with me.

This should be served sliced and spread with butter, ideally with a cup of tea but also works well in lunch boxes.


  • 450g (1lb) Sultanas
  • 450g (1lb) raisins
  • 450g (1lb) soft brown sugar
  • 3 cups (1/2 litre) milkless tea & whiskey mixed (I usually replace about 150ml of the tea with whiskey so 350ml tea, 150 ml whiskey but you could do anything up to half and half) *
  • 450g (1lb) plain (soft baking) flour
  • 3 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 level teaspoons mixed spice
  • 3 beaten free range eggs

*Adding the whiskey helps the teabread to keep better and subtely improves the flavour


  1. Soak the fruit and sugar in the tea (& Whiskey) overnight. If pushed for time can soak fruit/sugar in the morning and bake in the evening.
  2. Cover bowl with teatowel.
  3. Sift plain flour with baking powder and mixed spice
  4. Add flour and beaten eggs alternately to the fruit and tea mixture
  5. Turn into 3 greased & lined loaf tins and bake for 1 1/4 hrs at 160 degrees C.

Not on the Label – Felicity Lawrence

Not on the label by Felicity Lawrence is definitely not a recipe book but it is such a scary read that I resolved to do as much cooking from scratch as possible rather than buying processed food.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Label-What-Really-Plate/dp/0141015667/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329326226&sr=8-1

After reading the section on bread I found myself using the breadmaker several times a week instead of buying bread and I’m only tempted to buy fresh bread from Waitrose or Rankin’s soda and wheaten breads if I’ve forgotten to put the breadmaker on.

There were recommendations for independent mills in the book and one of these was Shipton Mill who have a great website where you can order on-line http://www.shipton-mill.com/ so I buy almost all my flour from them now. The soft baking flour and strong bread flour I buy by the sack. Whilst I love Irish wheaten breads and brown soda bread I’m not especially keen on brown/wholemeal bread even home baked, however I make an exception for Shipton’s 3 malts and sunflower brown flour http://www.shipton-mill.com/flour-direct/speciality-and-rare-flours/shop-4/organic-three-malts-and-sunflower-brown-flour-705? if they sold this by the sack I’d order a sackful at a time as well. They also sell proper Irish soda bread flour  http://www.shipton-mill.com/flour-direct/speciality-and-rare-flours/shop-34/organic-irish-soda-coarse-brown-bread-flour-406?

I do however buy a few bags of Odlums soda bread mix whenever I’m in Ireland. You just have to add water and makes a very acceptable brown soda bread. (However I daren’t look at the list of ingredients.)