Barmbrack | Irish Tea Bread

Barmbrack | Irish Tea Bread

A recent visit to the beautiful tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka and buying some factory tea has inspired this post and had me in the kitchen baking a Barmbrack, a traditional Irish Tea Bread. Somewhere between cake and bread and not overly sweet, this homely moist loaf is packed with dried fruit plumped with tea. Sliced and slathered with the obligatory butter and enjoyed alongside a freshly brewed pot of loose tea … well what more can I say. Continue reading “Barmbrack | Irish Tea Bread”

food + drink

Irish Potato Bread

Back in Ireland for a couple of weeks to attend my nieces confirmation and intend on taking the opportunity to indulge in some Irish foods, the humble potato ranks high on the list.  Potato bread was a great childhood favourite of mine and still is to this day.  As a child my father always made the potato bread in our house, he was a great man for the frying pan and potato bread was one of his specialities. Fond memories of us all sitting around the kitchen table, eagerly waiting for a hot triangle of potato bread to land on our warmed plate. Then brushing some melted butter over the slightly charred crust with a soft moist interior…  t’was pure Irish heaven on a plate.

Potato bread is sometimes called potato farls but in our house it was always Dad’s Potato Bread. There was no written recipe or exact weighing of ingredients followed when Dad made the potato dough and when incorporating flour into the mashed potatoes he would stop when the dough felt just right. You can use leftover mashed potatoes but Dad would boil a few potatoes specially for making potato bread, he felt that using cold leftover mash was never the same.

Does the type of potato matter? Floury potatoes are the best choice and using waxy potatoes (which we have plenty of in Bahrain) will not achieve good results for making potato bread. Floury potatoes contain less moisture and have a higher starch content, resulting in a dry fluffy mash. Waxy potatoes contain more moisture and less starch resulting in a more gloopy type of mash. Some of the larger supermarkets in Bahrain sell some floury potatoes  (Russets) but they are much more expensive to buy.

Irish Potato Bread


  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds (approx. 450g)
  • knob of butter, melted
  • salt to taste
  • plain flour, sieved (approx. 110g)

Useful Kitchen Jewellery:

  • vegetable peeler
  • steamer
  • food mill or potato masher
  • cast iron griddle or non-stick frying pan

How to make:

Steam the potatoes using some salted water for about 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through, the tip of a sharp knife should easily pass through the potato.

Pass the potatoes through a food mill placed over a mixing bowl, mix in the melted butter and salt. Check seasoning. If you do not have a food mill mash the potatoes using a potato masher.

Gradually work in the flour in small increments using a wooden spoon to start with but towards the end use your hands to mix in the flour, so you get the “feel” of the dough. The finished dough should be a little tacky but workable. Note that all the flour may not be needed, but you could also find that a little extra is needed!

Place the dough (usually I cut in half) on a lightly floured surface and with floured hands flatten the dough into a circle about 1cm thick. Cut the dough into triangles using a knife dusted with some flour.

Heat a un-greased iron griddle pan (sprinkled with a little flour to prevent sticking) or non stick frying pan on medium until hot and cook the potato bread until each side has formed a hint of a crust with a browned and lightly charred look. 

Serve the potato bread immediately on warmed plates and brush each slice with a little melted butter.

Serving suggestions: Enjoy potato bread on its own or topped with a fried or poached egg. Also great served with some grilled sausages, tomatoes and bacon.