Potato cakes are a perfect way to use up left-over mashed potatoes. There are many different names for these delicious fried potato pancakes.
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.
The Best Potato Mash for Potato Cakes
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 many 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 and than Irish varieties. 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 traditional Irish mashed potato cakes.
Irish Potato Pancakes
Boxty is an alternative potato pancake in Ireland, but it is made with a combination of raw grated potatoes and mashed potatoes.
I even serve my boxty potato pancakes with a savory chicken and mushroom filling.
Storing Potato Cakes
I recommend eating potato cakes once they are cooked.
If you would like to make them in advance, prepare the dough and cut out the potato cakes. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container until you're ready to fry them up.
Once they're cooked they do not freeze well. They tend to get soggy in the freezer and their texture changes.
Uncooked potato cakes can be frozen for storage. Place them on a baking pan and flash freeze them individually. Once they're frozen they can be placed together in a freezer bag or container and frozen for up to 3 months.
They should be thawed before being fried up. They'll turn out well, but just not quite as tasty as the unfrozen fresh ones. The potatoes lose a little texture during the freezing process.
So let's take a look at how I make this traditional Irish side dish.
Ingredients for Fadge or Potato Cakes
Here's a quick list of what you'll need. Check out the printable recipe below the instructions section, where you can choose between US and Metric equivalents for exact quantities.
- mashed potatoes
- all-purpose flour
- onion powder
- teaspoon salt
- large beaten egg
These ingredients are for a basic and traditional Irish mashed potato cake recipe. I don't add any extras such as onions, garlic or herbs for this plain potato cake.
You can use Kosher salt if you wish and a little white or ground black pepper adds some nice seasoning.
But you can add a little magic if you wish. The options for tasty additions are endless.
Bacon bits and cheese are wonderful additions. Cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese work great with bacon.
Fresh thyme and diced fried onions are amazing together.Chopped green onions with cheddar cheese make a flavorful combination, or you can get really adventurous and add a little curry powder. The sky's the limit.
If you add a liquidy ingredient such as sour cream, use a little less beaten egg to bind your potato cakes together.
Below you'll find step-by-step photographic instructions for how to make these delicious potato patties.
But if you prefer to learn through a video tutorial here's a quick one minute review of all the steps ...
Directions for Making Potato Cakes
And here are my photo instructions. You'll also find a printable recipe at the end of the post....
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 ¼ cup of the flour, reserving the rest of the flour for kneading the dough.
Next add ¼ 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 ¼ cup of flour for the kneading process.
Knead the dough gently and press it out into a circular shape about ½ 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.
Re-knead 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 love the flavor that butter adds to these mashed potato patties. If you prefer you can use half vegetable oil, and half butter for frying them.
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:
Irish Potato Cakes
- 3 cups mashed potatoes
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces butter half melted for dough and half for frying potato cakes.
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ large egg beaten
- Add the mashed potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
- Add ¼ cup of the flour, the onion powder and salt. Mash together.
- Add one ounce of melted butter and half of a beaten egg. Mix together to form a dough. Add additional flour as necessary.
- Transfer the potato dough onto a floured surface. Knead lightly and flatten into a circle between ½ inch high.
- Use a round cookie or scone cutter to cut out potato cakes. Re-knead the dough remnants to cut out more circular potato cakes.
- Melt 1 ounce of butter in a large skillet. Add the potato cakes. Fry on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, until they are a golden brown color.
- Serve immediately as a side dish for grilled fish, pork chops or any main course of choice.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
I hope you all enjoy this little taste of Ireland and Scotland.
Here are some Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes I made for Halloween.
Happy cooking from my home to yours.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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