St Patrick’s Day: Potato Apple Tart

Potato Apple TartWith St Patrick’s Day being tomorrow, one’s thoughts turn to food. Specifically food of an Irish sort, which includes, naturally enough, all things potato. So when I was reading through my recently acquired copy of Margaret Bates’ Talking about Cakes with an Irish and Scottish Accent, her recipe for Potato Apple Cake caught my eye. She said it was a delicacy from the orchard districts of Co Armagh but didn’t give an actual recipe, describing it as two rounds of potato cake sandwiching an apple filling and cooked on the griddle.

Sounded like a challenge to me so here is my recipe for what I think is more like a tart than a cake. This is best served hot out of the oven and, surprisingly enough, the flavour of the potatoes and apples go really well together, especially with a jug of custard on the side!

Incidentally, this is a cookbook well worth searching out. According to the notes at the front, Margaret Bates was the Vice-Principal of the City of Belfast College of Domestic Science and she also wrote The Belfast Cookery Book and Talking about Puddings. Talking about Cakes was first published in 1964 and, while I’m not a fan of her over-enthusiastic use of margarine (give me Monica Sheridan and her devotion to butter any day!), there are lots of unusual recipes in this book to (re)discover.

Happy Patrick’s Day – hope I’m not too late for the Daily Spud’s Paddy’s Day Food Parade!

Potato Apple Tart
This is best made with freshly cooked potatoes but cold leftover ones are fine. If you have a potato ricer, this is the time to drag it out of the back of your cupboard as it enables you to get a very smooth texture without too much work with the masher. The amount of flour you will use varies according to the type of potato.

Cooked, mashed potato – 475g
Butter – 25g, melted
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Brown sugar – 1 tablespoon
Flour – 3-4 tablespoons

Cooking apple – 1, peeled, cored and chopped into 2cm chunks
Brown sugar – 25g
Butter – 25g, melted

A little milk, for brushing
Brown sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Butter the base and sides of a 23cm round tin.

Mix the mashed potato, melted butter, salt and brown sugar together. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Divide in half. Gently roll both pieces into circles that will fit the base of the tin. Carefully – the dough is very fragile – pat it into place.

Mix the apple, sugar and butter for the filling together and sprinkle over the dough. Cover with the second circle of dough, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Cook in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot, straight from the oven.

Adapted from Talking about Cakes with an Irish and Scottish Accent by Margaret Bates.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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6 Responses

  1. Catofstripes says:

    Excellent looking recipe, I shall definitely try it. Thanks.

  2. Lu says:

    wow!! Potato in a desert – it look delicious! The parade over at Daily Spud was very impressive – I loved the look of the cabbage and bacon terrine

  3. Vicky says:

    Yum the potato cake looks fab, its one of those things you don’t think the sweet / savouy mix will work like the idea of beetroot chocolate cake!!

  4. Caroline says:

    Catofstripes: I’d love to know how you get on!Lu, Vicky: It might sound like a strange combination but it really does work. The tart is best eaten when it’s really hot, though, as it’s not quite as nice at cooler temperatures! And I do love Beetroot Chocolate Cake, although I have to say that I think it’s even better in a cupcake format. Maybe some cooking for the weekend!

  5. miriam says:

    Hi, just thought you would like to know that potato apple cakes are still to be had in some of our home bakeries here in Northern Ireland. They are exactly what Margaret Bates described, an apple filling for potato bread, cooked on the griddle. Of course, the quality of the apple filling varies tremendously, but it is usually eaten warmed up with melted butter. Its usually made by folding over a round of potato bread about 8 inches, i think, to make a semicircular shape which is then cooked on the griddle.

  6. Caroline says:

    Wow! That’s great to know, Miriam. Margaret Bates did talk about cooking it on a griddle but, for me, it’s just much easier to land it in the oven. Too many half-cooked griddle cakes in the past. I also like the idea of making the cake in a semicircle, a lot easier to turn over than a whole circle!

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