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Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes


Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 

Boxty, or Irish Potato Cakes are a very traditional Irish type of bread.  Also known as farls, this is a very traditional recipe for potato cakes which uses only a few ingredients.  Potatoes, salt, butter and flour. 

I have seen other recipes which use all sorts of additional ingredients. Baking powder, soda, buttermilk, sugar, etc. Not this recipe. This recipe for Irish Potato Cakes is about as basic as you can get. I feel it is a very authentic recipe.  

I adapted the recipe from a small booklet I have called "The Cooking of Ireland."  It is one of the J Salmon series that cover all sorts of topics pertaining to cookery in the British Isles. You can buy them in most bookshops and tourist spots in the UK. I loved them. They are filled with basic, delicious traditional recipes.


Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
There is an old rhyme goes: “Boxty in the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man”. The rhyme may be somewhat outdated, misogynous even, but it certainly highlights the importance of Boxty (and men) in Irish culture. 

 I mean, if it makes it into an Irish ditty, it has to be special. Right??? 

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 

But what exactly is Boxty and what is it's history? 

At its very basic, it is simply a potato cake/bread. Baked on a flat  griddle pan or stone, traditionally set over an open fire.

The name likely comes from the Irish arán bocht tí, meaning “poor-house bread." It could also come from the word for bakehouse, bácús..


Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
Not quite a pancake, not quite a bread, it falls somewhere in between the two. Traditionally made with about 70% potato to 30% flour, it goes together very simply and easily.  

Patted out into a rectangular shape and then cut into triangles, it is "baked" on the dry griddle pan until it is well toasted on both sides. It is a dish which dates back to well  before the famine times when it was incredibly popular in Ireland.  Indeed a part and fabric of Irish culture.

Let it be noted that this is not a "famine" recipe.  There were no potatoes worth eating in Ireland during the potato famine. That's why so many Irish were starving to death.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
There are actually three kinds of Boxty.  Pan, Loaf and Boiled. This recipe I am sharing today is the pan kind, and I have to say it is best served hot, straight off the pan. Hot, buttered with jam or honey, you just can't beat it! 

Its important to note that you can not use just ordinary or leftover mashed potatoes in this. They must be boiled potatoes that are then mashed, unadulterated with milk or anything else. You do mash them with a good large knob of butter while they are hot.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
Other than the butter, flour and salt are the only two other ingredients.  Authentically speaking. These were poor families.  They didn't have huge food budgets and the potato was their main source of food.


It only makes sense that the humble potato made it into every bit of their diet.  It is the Irish in me, I am sure, which accounts for my diabolical love for potatoes. It is my favorite vegetable.  It is my love of potatoes that prevents me from even going on and sticking to a low carb diet.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
Carbaholic?  Guilty as charged and quite happily so! 

You wouldn't think that a few simple ingredients could create something so tasty, but they do. Proof positive that some of the very best things in life are, and come from . . .  simple things. 

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
That being said, every house in Ireland will have a different way and manner of making Boxty, and each will claim their own as the best. 

And there is nothing wrong with that.  Taste is subjective after all.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
I am not going to say that versions with leavening in them, or sugar are not authentic. I do think, however, that the more basic you can get with a recipe such as this one, the closer you are getting to the original. 

Boxty is a staple in the rich history of the North West of Ireland and can be counted as a colorful piece of the beautiful tapestry which is traditional Irish culture.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 

To "bake" these I used a flat Pampered Chef Griddle pan, but you can use any large flat non-stick skillet which has a heavy bottom.

A well seasoned iron skillet would also work well. 

There is no need to butter it.  The Boxty will not stick. No way. No how.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
You don't want the pan to be scalding hot, just hot enough to brown the bread thoroughly and begin cooking it through. Once it is browned on the underside, it will need to be flipped over to the other side to brown.

If your pan is too hot, you risk burning your Boxty, whilst leaving it still raw in the middle. A moderate heat is best.

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
As they say easy peasy, lemon squeasy. You can keep the baked ones warm in a low oven.

Put the kettle on and warm up the tea pot. These go great with a nice hot cuppa.  Whatever makes you smile. Irish Breakfast Tea would be nice, but I will settle for a nice fruited blend of herbal infusions, or even a minty tea.


Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes 
Served up hot from the griddle/oven with plenty of cold butter for spreading and some jam or honey, teatime just doesn't get much better than this.  And be generous.  This isn't the time to be stingy. Enjoy every mouthful and channel your inner Irish. 

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
~An old Irish blessing

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes

Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes
Yield: 12
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min
A traditional recipe, normally baked on an iron "Griddle" or in a heavy skillet. Ideal served warm with sugar and butter, but we enjoy them with butter and jam. They also go well with a full cooked breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (350g) freshly boiled potato,
  • mashed with a large knob of butter
  • and plenty of salt while still hot (NO milk)
  • (about 1 pound peeled and mashed)
  • 1 cup (140g) plain flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. After you have mashed your potatoes (smooth as you can) and melted the butter in them. Allow to cool completely. 
  2. Add the flour to the mashed potatoes to make a smooth pliable dough, kneading it in. 
  3. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle which is 1/2 inch thick. Cut into triangles.
  4. Heat a dry griddle pan or heavy bottomed skillet over medium low heat. 
  5. Place the potato cakes in it and brown first on one side, and then the other. This should take about 3 minutes per side. Don't be in a hurry. You want them to cook through the middle without burning on the outside. 
  6. Serve warm with butter and jam.
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Boxty - Irish Potato Cakes
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Marie Rayner
4 Comments
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4 comments:

  1. This sounds interesting and tasty, too,Marie. I love hearing the history of it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like to make this look yummy

    ReplyDelete

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