Historic Recipe: Potato Cakes (1938)

Source: Home Management; A Comprehensive Guide-book to the Management of the Household, containing authorative contributions by Experts, compiled and edited by Margaret Garth and Mrs Stanley Wrench (1938)

I had some friends over last night for an informal dinner, it was a lovely evening in which we drank a significant amount of port and then I made them help me move a wardrobe down my very narrow spiral staircase. So basically how every good dinner party should go.

I’d found a yummy sounding recipe for a bean stew and crispy bacon and so I hunted the historic tomes at hand for a suitable carbohydrate-based addition to the meal, this was when I alighted on potato cakes. I’ve been thinking a lot about potato scones the last few days (I mean, who doesn’t?) and so potato cakes seemed to offer a solid substitute for my Scottish craving.

Mix some mashed potato into a thick paste with a little flour and a pinch of salt. Roll the paste out on a pastry-board; then cut into rounds or triangles and fry in butter until brown on both sides. Drain well and serve.

Once again, quantities and timings are not Home Management’s strong point so I boiled up a pan of chopped potatoes until they were tender, drained them and mashed them up with a little salt. I then kept adding flour until the potato mix formed a soft dough. This is where I learnt my first valuable lesson – recently boiled potatoes are really hot, sticking your hands in them is, frankly, stupid. Wait until they have cooled a bit first. I rolled the dough out with a rolling pin and cut it into rounds using a large biscuit-cutter. My second lesson was that everything had to be really thoroughly covered in flour for this process to work, including myself. I then fried the patties I’d created over a medium heat until they browned on both sides. They held their shape pretty well throughout this process and were surprisingly tasty.

Suggested alterations: You could definitely add a bit more seasoning – some black pepper, maybe some herbs. Next time I’ll probably try throwing a sweet potato in with the normal potatoes for a bit of variation.

Final verdict: These were good, particularly for a foodstuff made entirely from white stodgy ingredients. Would make again.


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