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Fantastic Farls and How to Make Them


It might be a bit of a stretch to relate potato farls to artisan bread but, I think they make a nice change – and I like them. It does show another use for your Welsh Baking Stone/Griddle though. My dad is from Belfast so I have memories of the occasional homemade farls being fried in butter and slathered in ketchup (I was a child!). They are a simple food that has a more complex flavour than the basic ingredients might suggest and are a good way to use any home grown spuds that you might have put a garden fork through.

I remember visiting Ireland as a little girl and tasting my first farl. They so were beautifully buttery and delicious, I can still remember the way they tasted. This recipe is almost exactly the way I remember them. They are so good, and are usually part of the Full Irish Breakfast or the Ulster Fry.

So I’ve been playing about with mashed potatoes to make farls at home. They are of Gaelic origin so are also in Scotland known as Tattie Scones. The word farl means “fourths” as each farl is a quarter of the circular shape made to form them. Pick some great potatoes like Maris Piper or a potato variety that you know have a good taste and floury texture.

The stone we use to bake these has a wonderful gentle but solid heat that bakes them through very nicely and the heat from the oven hitting the exposed surface makes for a good bake.

You can play a little with the amount of flour and baking powder you use. Decreasing the flour and baking powder will yield a denser farl: increasing them will give a much lighter texture.

I’ve included Wenslydale, a sharp and salty cheese and chives in the recipe to give more complexity to the flavours. You could vary the cheese to another that you like and the traditional ingredient is scallions (spring onions) rather than chives – use what you have available. I’ve gone for a stoneground flour which is of a creamy colour with a good wheaty flavour. Always use the best ingredients you have available when baking, you will notice the difference if you run out and have to use a poorer alternative. The baking powder from BakeryBits is German and like most countries outside the UK, they package it in sachets rather than pots to keep it fresh: baking powder loses its potency over time when exposed to the air. Like old yeast, it’s always disappointing when you bake only to find your baking powder is old and not giving the results you are looking for - so I really do recommend using the fresh sachets.

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton

 

Recipe: Potato Farls with Chives and Wensleydale Cheese made with Goats Milk

Method

Wash and peel the potatoes then cut into cubes, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water and salt. Boil for 15 - 20 minutes until tender.

Set the oven to 220°C / 425F and place a Welsh Baking Stone in the centre of the oven to heat through.

Drain the cooked potatoes while hot so they steam dry. Now pass the potatoes through a vegetable mouli if you have one or a course sieve, or just mash finely and return to the pan with the unsalted butter, flour and baking powder. Taste the potatoes for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remember the cheese is also salty but be generous with the pepper. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon which will release from the sides of the pan. If it’s a little wet add a little extra flour then add the crumbled cheese and chives, folding through the mixture.

Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions and roll one into a ball. On a floured surface using a rolling pin form a circle around 1 cm thick. Now do the same with the other portion of the mixture and cut each circle into quarters.

When the stone is nice and hot you can bake the farls directly on it in one at a time using a wide pallet knife or a fish slice, bake for around 6 minutes or until the underside is golden and then turn over and bake for a further 6 minutes until a nice golden.

Popular in Ireland with breakfast as they are or fried on butter. Alternatively they are excellent as a brunch with crispy bacon and poached eggs, delicious served with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs or just as they are with a large piece of butter allowed to melt over them.

For a sweet treat make them plain and pour runny honey over them with some seasonal berries.

Ingredients: 500g Nice floury potatoes 1tsp Ground Sel-Gris (French sea salt) 60g Unsalted butter 60g Stoates Organic Strong White Flour 5g Bioreal Organic Baking Powder Freshly ground black pepper 100g Wensleydale Cheese (or a sharp-tasting alternative) 10g Chopped fresh chives (or spring onions)

Equipment: Scales Saucepan Sieve Rolling Pin Welsh Baking Stone Round Cooling Rack

featured products

Stoates Organic Strong White Flour | £2.50

Stoate's Organic Strong White Flour is made from their brown flour which is sieved to remove almost all of the bran particles producing a stoneground white flour with a creamy colour and exceptional flavour.

Bioreal Organic Baking Powder | £1.00

Organic baking powder, made in Germany for a high-performance alternative to the non-organic supermarket varieties.

Ground Sel Gris (French Sea salt) | £3.38

Ground (fine) “Sel Marin” or Grey Sea Salt, is a chef’s most valuable cooking salt. The Grey Sea Salt is harvested in the early summer mornings from the bottom of our clay lined salt marches.

Welsh Baking Stone Welsh Baking Stone | £34.80

Welsh Baking Stone made from steel for baking, griddling and barbecues. Use it to bake pizzas and bread in your oven, or crumpets on your hob, or seer steaks on your barbecue.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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