Irish potato bread or farls are an integral component of that famous Irish breakfast 'The Ulster Fry'. They are not just for breakfast though, potato bread makes a great supper or after school snack.
You can serve them on their own with just a knob of butter (I like sugar also sprinkled over mine) or served with bacon or scrambled eggs.
In Scotland they are called 'tattie scones' and the word 'farl' comes from the Scots Gaelic word 'fardel' meaning 'fourths'.
Potato farls are incredibly easy to make, they are prepared as flat discs of flour and potato dough, cut into quarters and fried.
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When growing we only made potato bread in our house if there was some left over mash from dinner. My mum never used a recipe, the guideline was simply a pinch of baking powder and gradual addition of flour until the correct dough consistency was achieved. In order to pin down the exact quantities I made the potato bread several times so the below recipe achieves the perfect Irish potato bread - crispy, browned exterior and soft, fluffy interior.
Irish Potato Bread Recipe
Makes 8 individual farls.
*Please note that if you are using leftover mash potato that my recipe does not allow for gluey mash with lots of cream or milk added. Plain potato mash with butter and seasoning is what is required in this instance.
400g (14oz) potatoes peeled - I use Kerrs pinks, but any floury variety available locally to you will do
Salt and pepper (to taste)
40g (1.4oz) butter - real salted butter is essential
80g (2.8oz) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)
a little oil or extra butter for frying
*A note on quantities: the ratio of flour to potato will vary depending on the variety of potato you use, so don't add all the flour at once and keep some spare flour nearby in case you need extra. The dough should be firm, coming away from the sides of the saucepan or bowl and be able to hold its shape.
- Peel and chop the potatoes into roughly equal size and place in a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
- Drain the potatoes and place the saucepan back on the ring for a moment to steam off any remaining moisture.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the butter to the potatoes and mash thoroughly (don't worry if you still have those really tiny lumps - these will disappear by the time the potato bread is fried)
- Taste the potato mix and add salt and pepper if necessary
- Add the flour and baking powder to the potatoes and use your hands to mix until it forms a dough
- Remove the dough from the saucepan or bowl and cut it in half
- Roll out one half on a floured board. You can use a rolling pin, but I just use the heel of my hand to flatten the dough into a circle about 1cm (1/2") thick.
- Score a cross in the dough to form quarters
- Make sure your pan and the oil/butter are sufficiently hot for the farls to sizzle when placed on it.
- Lift each quarter into the pan and fry in butter or oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Tip: do not flip the potato bread over on the pan until the underside is fully cooked. You will know when you can see the colour change on the edges and steam is rising from the top.
- Place the potato farls on a warmed plate and repeat steps 7-10 with the other half of the dough