There was a short exchange of letters on the subject of potato cakes in The Times (of London) in September 1917. Due to the exigencies of war, wheat - and therefore also flour and bread – were expensive and substitutes were eagerly sought.
On September 6, the following Letter to the Editor was published.
Sir, - Owing to flour’s being dearer than potatoes, potato cakes would be very appetizing at breakfast or tea. To make them take 1 lb. of well-mashed potatoes, add pepper and salt according to taste, also some butter (about the size of a walnut); then add an egg, but milk is used for economical purposes. Form them into small rounds and bake to a golden brown, and then they will be found to be excellent.
Yours faithfully, S. Lisle-Simpson,
Compton, Milford-on-Sea, Hants., Sept. 3
Another reader responded a few days later.
Sir, - I read with interest the recipe for potato cakes in The Times of September 6. May I send a very well-known Irish recipe which is a bit different?
Take ¾ lb. of potatoes previously boiled in their skins, and rub through a sieve. Add 2 oz. of flour, some salt, and a teaspoonful of butter; mix together with a yolk of an egg or milk. Make them into rounds and fry till a golden brown. They are excellent served hot. These cakes are very common in Ireland, where they are made every dat.
A Thrifty Colleen.
And here is a very interesting flavour variation of the same basic concept, also from the WW I period, but this time from an American newspaper (Boston Daily Globe of September 1918.)
Dear Readers—I send you a recipe for Irish potato cakes which my mother makes. They are eaten as fast as she cooks them. Can use left-over potatoes. Mash, season with salt, add caraway seeds to taste, pinch of soda, sweet or sour milk, flour enough to roll out. Roll about H inch thick, cut to advantage, fry on hot griddle; butter and eat hot.
Mrs P. U.
And finally, a more substantial version, from the Lowell Sun of October 24, 1914.
Corned Beef and Potato Cakes. Mix two cups of cold chopped corned beef with two cups of hot mashed potato, a tablespoon of milk, and one egg. Form into small flat cakes and brown on both sides in hot butter.
I still haven’t met a potato I didn’t like. How about you?
My mom made something similar but she mixed in cracker crumbs before frying. I never realized she was probably adding eggs. I'll have to try making potato cakes again.
I've never met ANYTHING made out of potatoes I didn't like.
(I'd be an utter failure on the South Beach Diet).
Once in a while, as a rare treat, my mother would make mashed potato cakes out of leftover mashed potatoes. They never kept together well, probably because they were literally just leftover mashed potatoes, made into small patties and fried in bacon grease. But my, they were fantastic.
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