Weekends are my time for experimenting with food and this morning I was looking to Northern Ireland for inspiration. Visiting Belfast last year and stopping by at St. George’s Market, there was a huge variety of potato farls on offer and I’ve been a fan ever since. Irish potato farls are simple ‘breads’ made from potatoes, flour, butter and salt. Try my potato farls bread recipe for a simple and comforting treat.
“The word farl literally means ‘fourths’: they are shaped from a circle of dough cut into quarters.” The Guardian
Potato Farls Bread Recipe
A simple recipe, success guaranteed. Have the potato breads with your cooked weekend breakfast or simply with butter.
Potato Farls Ingredients
1 kg floury potatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
190g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)
How To Make Potato Farls
The day/evening before you plan to make the potato farls, cook the potatoes and mash them with a potato ricer or regular potato masher.
Add the butter and season to taste.
Leave to cool, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
On the day of making the potato farls, add the flour (and thyme if using) to the mashed potatoes until well combined and smooth.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half.
On a floured work surface (to prevent sticking), flatten the dough into a round shape. You can do this with your hands or with a rolling pin. The round should be approximately 5mm thick.
Cut each circle into quarters.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot.
Add the potato farls in batches (use a dough scraper if they stick to the surface), and fry for four to five minutes on each side, or until golden-brown on both sides. I don’t use extra butter to do this.
Keep warm until ready to serve.
Irish potato farls can turn your breakfast into something extra special but if you are looking for other breakfast options, take a look at these:
On my latest visit to Dublin, I tasted a delicious loaf of Irish treacle bread. Dark, heavy and deliciously earthy. However, it was of course a soda bread and when I returned home, I decided to make a sourdough version of the Irish black treacle bread. The black treacle bread recipe I developed uses cracked rye and rye flour to support the rich and aromatic flavours of the treacle.
Before I jump into the recipe, I wanted to share a few facts about treacle. I was astounded when, at a conference in Powerscourt Hotel in Co. Wicklow, someone mentioned that Dublin was built around the largest natural treacle lake – a fake fact which was quickly dispelled by a quick Wikipedia check on the matter.
What is black treacle?
Uncrystallised dark syrup, a byproduct of sugar cane refining, obtained from later boilings in the process
About 55% sucrose
Also known as dark molasses
Almost-black with an otherworldly, thick, viscous consistency (for any Star Trek fans here, it really reminds me of Armus in the episode “Skin of Evil”!)
Back to actual treacle… so why use treacle in baking?
Black treacle is rich in vitamins, minerals and iron
It adds a distinctively dark colour, intense and distinctive bitter-sweet burnt caramel flavour and moisture to baked dishes
When baking with dried fruits, black treacle accentuates the fruit flavour and adds a deep, rich note
Prepare the sourdough and boiled rye grain soaker by combining the ingredients in two separate bowls and mixing thoroughly. I use a silicone spatula to do this which works well.
Cover the bowls with their respective lids and keep at room temperature for about 16 to 24 hours.
On day 2, after the 16 to 24 hour wait, dissolve the black treacle in the warm water. Use a small bowl to do so.
Combine 280g of the sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake) and all of the rye grain soaker with the treacle water and the remaining dough ingredients (except the sunflower oil).
Work the dough for a few minutes. You won’t be able to knead it but mix well. Cover and rest for an hour or two.
Give the dough another quick mix, then place in an oil-brushed baking tin (I use a dough scraper to help with this process). The dough should only fill about half the tin, giving it room to proof and rise to the top.
Wrap a polythene bag around the loaf tin to prevent the dough from drying out.
Proof for about 5 hours until almost doubled in size. Please note, the time required will depend on the room temperature. This process may happen more quickly if you live in warmer climes!
Preheat the oven in time, then bake for 20 minutes at 240°C on the second lowest shelf, then at 200°C for another 50 minutes.