Potato cakes are a perfect way to use up left-over mashed potatoes. Known as tattie scones in Scotland, potato scones in the Isle of Man, or fadge in parts of Northern Ireland, these savory, fried potato patties make a great side dish.
Whenever I cook mashed potatoes I make extra, because I love potato cakes. However, a word of warning. If you like your mashed potatoes really ‘soupy’ and add lots of extra milk and butter, it will be very hard to form potato cakes without adding cups of extra flour. They lose their distinctive flavor when too much flour is added.
I find store-bought mashed potatoes don’t work too well for this recipe. They are laden with extra milk and butter. Also, American potatoes tend to be a little more watery than the Irish variety. In Ireland we love starchy, ‘floury’ potatoes. We often refer to potatoes as balls of flour.
So the moral of the story is don’t make your mashed potatoes too loose if you plan to make potato cakes.
- 3 cups mashed potatoes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (half for the dough and half for kneading)
- 2 oz butter (half melted for dough and half for frying potato cakes)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 large beaten egg
Add the mashed potatoes to a large mixing bowl. I like to take the potatoes out of the fridge about 30 minutes before making these cakes, since when they are really cold I find it harder to form the dough.
Add 1/4 cup of the flour, reserving the rest of the flour for kneading the dough.
Next add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of onion powder. My grandmother would have told me:
“It’s far from onion powder you were raised.”
But I just like the subtle hint of flavor it adds.
Feel free to add pepper. I sometimes use white pepper since I just don’t like to see black flecks of pepper in my cakes. Usually I make them pepper free.
You can season these cakes anyway you choose. I sometimes add curry powder, or chives. The possibilities are endless. Today I thought it best to share my basic recipe, but feel free to experiment with the flavor.
Next I take out my trusted potato masher and use it to combine the flour and seasonings throughout the mash.
Add 1 ounce of melted butter, and half of a beaten egg. The amount of liquid needed varies depending upon the original consistency of the mashed potatoes you are using.
A typical Scottish tattie scone recipe does not call for egg, using only melted butter to bind the ingredients together. However, I like to use just a little egg. I find the dough is easier to work when I do this.
Use your hand to form a dough ball. Add extra flour as needed.
Turn the dough out onto a floured rolling surface. I sprinkle the second 1/4 cup of flour for the kneading process.
Knead the dough gently and press it out into a circular shape about 1/2 inch thick. You might want to use a rolling pin, but I find this dough very easy to work and just press it flat with the palm of my hand.
Next I use a scone cutter to shape my patties. Alternatively you can just cut the big circle into 8 triangular pieces, by first halving it, then quartering it, and then cutting each quarter in half.
But I just like these little circular patties – probably because that’s the way my mom made potato cakes.
Reknead the dough remnants and rework into a flat circular shape to cut out more rounds. This recipe yields between 8 and 10 cakes depending upon how thickly form them.
Next melt the butter in the bottom of a large skillet. I like to use my cast iron skillet. I think the cakes brown more evenly in it.
Add 5 to 6 potato cakes to the pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Don’t try to fry them all at once by crowding the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low.
Fry them for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. It is best to cook them slowly over gentle heat. Otherwise the outside crust will burn before the flour in the center has fully cooked. A taste of raw flour can ruin this recipe very easily.
Peak under a cake by lifting it with a spatula to see if it is ready to flip. Once they have a lovely golden brown outer crust, turn them and cook on the other side for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve potato cakes hot for lunch, as a side for chops, salmon or ham. The possibilities are endless. In Ireland they are often served for breakfast as part of a traditional Irish fry, with bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms and fried tomatoes.
Here is the printable recipe:
I hope you all enjoy this little taste of Ireland and Scotland.
Here are some Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes I made for Halloween.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom