Celticsprite’s Blog

Celtic Cookery: Freckle Bread
March 30, 2012, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery

It is renowned that “potatoes” were brought to Europe by Spanish colons from America, and became the basis of many receipts in celtic countries, introducin Different varieties of potatoes lend themselves to different cooking methods, specially in Ireland, Galicia and Asturias. I have been featuring several receips containing this particular vegetable… Hereby is another one which I would love to share with you.

This is a wonderful potatoe based bread pudding, with a  traditional Irish treat which gets its name from the raisings that give the bread a freckled appearance. Some receipes also add cranberries if you’d like, and 1 cup of hot strong plain tea.

  • 2-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2-1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages fast-rise yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup cooked mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In a large bowl, combine together 1 cup of the whole-wheat flour, 1 cup of the white flour, the sugar, the undissolved yeast, and the salt.
Heat butter and water together until very warm (125F to 130F); gradually stir the warm liquids into the dry ingredients.
Stir in eggs, mashed potatoes, dates and the additional flours to make a soft dough; add a few more tbsp of the white flour if need be.
Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. 
Cover and let rest on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; shape into 4 slender loaves– about 8-1/2 inches long. 
Set 2 loaves side-by-side in each of 2 well-greased 8-1/2 by-4-1/2 inch loaf pans. 
Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until done. 
Remove from pans; cool on wire racks. 
Related Source:

Celtic Cookery: The Cornish "Figgie ‘obbin" aka "Figgie Hobbin"
December 27, 2011, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery

Celtic Cookery: Scottish Shortbread Cookies
December 6, 2011, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery

December seasonal feasts are coming soon,  and cookies are usually shared on these days…with its’ rich buttery flavor and tender and crumbly texture!. While it is particularly associated with bringing in the New Year it is certainly popular in Scotland throughout the year. 

A basic biscuit (cookie) recipe includes flour, shortening (often lard), baking powder or soda, milk (buttermilk or sweet milk) and sugar. Common savory variations involve substituting sugar with an ingredient such as cheese or other dairy products. 

Shortbread is a popular biscuit in the UK and USA, so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter.

According to the Scottish National Dictionary, its Scottish name derives from the diminutive form (+ suffix -ie) of the word cook, giving the Middle Scots cookie, cooky or cu(c)kie.
Cookies came to America in the early English settlement (the 17th century), although the name “koekje” arrived with the Dutch. It also gives an alternative etymology, from the Dutch word koekje, the diminutive of koek, a cake. There was much trade and cultural contact across the North Sea between the Low Countries and Scotland during the Middle Ages, which can also be seen in the history of curling and, perhaps, golf.
The secret to making a good Scottish Shortbread is to have a light hand when mixing the ingredients and to use the finest ingredients. So that means a high quality salted butter, my personal preference being an imported butter (I used Kerrygold Irish Butter to test the recipe). Now, butter in the States is graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one easy way to tell the quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the butter’s package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score), followed by B (90 score). Also, these shortbreads contain rice flour which gives the shortbread a more crumbly and tender texture. Rice flour is a fine gluten-free flour produced from white or brown rice. It can be found in some grocery stores or else health food stores. In the absence of rice flour you can use cornstarch (corn flour) which is a fine white powder that comes from the inner grain (endosperm) of corn.

It is the quality of the ingredients that make shortbread so decidedly delicious, and a lightness of touch in the making. Classic shortbread is made from only flour, butter and sugar, so that gives three opportunities for buying the best, or three chances to produce a disappointing biscuit. F. Marian McNeill writes in ‘The Scots Kitchen’ that,

“Only the best ingredients should be used. The flour should be dried and sieved. The butter, which is the only moistening and shortening agent, should be squeezed free of all water. The sugar should be fine castor. Two other things are essential for success – the careful blending of the ingredients and careful firing.” 

Jane Grigson suggests having in the kitchen a jar of plain flour mixed with rice flour or cornflour with a 3:1 proportion so that you have this to hand for biscuit making and for light sponge cakes. She helpfully notes that the proportion of ingredients for shortbread are 3:2:1 – flour:butter:sugar.

Advice also comes from ’The Baker’s Repository of Recipes – With Special Reference to Scottish Specialities’, published post-WWII by The British Baker to help reinvigorate the baking trade by providing a comprehensive collection of national recipes:

“Flour, butter, sugar, and sometimes eggs, was the order of the day at one time, but in shortbread making the type of ingredient used is the chief essential.”

Scottish Shortbreads are made by hand using just one large bowl. An electric mixer is not needed. To make the shortbreads, first mix the flour with the rice flour and sugar. Next, very cold butter is grated over the flour mixture. Then, with your fingertips, take small handfuls of the mixture and gently rub the butter into the flour. Keep lifting and rubbing the butter and flour together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs (you do not want a dough to form). Take the shortbread and place it in an eight inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press into an even layer and prick the surface with the tines of a fork. The final step is to take a sharp knife and ‘score’ the top of the shortbread into 16 wedges. (‘Score’ means to lightly mark or make shallow cuts into the top surface of the shortbread with a sharp knife or prongs of a fork. Do not cut all the way through the pastry or bread. Scoring is done both for decorative purposes and as a way for gases to escape during baking.) Bake in a 300 degree F (150 degrees C) for about 40-50 minutes or until biscuit colored (watch carefully). Remove from oven, place on a wire rack to cool for five minutes before removing from tart pan. Place the shortbread round on a cutting board and cut each shortbread round into 16 wedges (along the lines scored). Cool completely on a wire rack.


This ingredient quantities came from ‘A Cook’s Tour of Britain’, by the WI and Michael Smith (just a little more butter than Jane Grigson’s ratios), and the method I employed was from Marcus Wareing’s ‘How to Cook the Perfect…’

110g slightly salted butter (or unsalted butter with a pinch a salt) – use direct from fridge
50g caster sugar
150g plain flour
50g rice flour/ground rice


1. Sift the flour into a bowl (along with the salt if you are using unsalted butter), and stir in the ground rice and sugar.
2. Put the bowl of dry ingredients on the scales and return the dial/reading to zero and (here is the clever bit) grate in 110g butter from a chilled block .
3. Work the grated butter quickly into the flour by rubbing first with the fingertips, and then between the palms of the hands. Once the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, stop.
4. Press the mix into a 20cm by 20cm square baking tin and level the surface. Chill in the fridge for about an hour.
5. Heat oven to 160C/320F/Gas 3, and then bake shortbread until light golden (about 40 minutes, but keep an eye on it).
6. Remove from oven and prick all over with a fork, then mark out into pieces (squares or fingers) cutting through to the bottom of the tin. Dust liberally with caster sugar, and then leave to cool in tin.

Related Sources: 

http:// www.bakingforbritain.blogspot.com

Celtic Cookery : Balnamoon Skink, an Irish Soup
September 2, 2011, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery
We dive once again on the incredible world of Celtic Cookery, and experience how traditional receipes may slightly change throughout the eons of time.

(Compiled by Conrad Bladey from the book “The Cook and Housewife’s Manual” by Christian Isobel Johnstone, 1847. Posted by kind permission of Conrad Bladey. All rights reserved.)

Clean and cut into pieces two or three young cocks, or fowls.

Have one larger neatly trussed as for boiling.

Boil the cut fowls till the broth is as strong and good as they can make it; but do not overboil the uncut fowl.

Strain the broth, season it with parsley, chives, and young onions chopped, and, if in season, a few tender green peas. Add white pepper and salt, and serve the whole fowl in the tureen, or separately.

—Obs. This soup may be immensely improved in quality and appearance by adding, before serving, a liaison of two beat eggs, and a little cream. It is another variety of the Scottish Friars’ Chicken, or Cock-a-leeHe; dishes which, under some name, are, with whatever modification of seasonings, familiar in every country where a backward system of husbandry renders indifferent poultry plentiful, and shambles-meat scarce.

N.B.—Without desiring to innovate on these national preparations, we would recommend, for the sake of the ladies’ dresses, and the gentlemen’s toil in fishing it up, that the fowl be carved before it is served in the tureen.

Nowadays Common Ingredients

2 chickens

Herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, marjoram)



Chopped chives

Chopped onions


Green peas


2 eggs

1 cup of cream


Put the chicken into a pot and boil until their juices are thoroughly extracted and the broth is rich and good.

One of the chickens may be trussed as for boiling and removed as soon as cooked, but they are best cut up when intended only for soup.

When well boiled, strain the soup through a colander into a clean saucepan.

Season with salt, pepper, sweet herbs, chives, and chopped onions.

Add celery and green peas.

Stew until the vegetables are tender.

2 eggs, well beaten, added to a cup of cream and stirred into the soup, will greatly improve it.

The trussed fowl is sometimes served in the tureen with the soup.

When sent to the table separately, thicken some of the broth and pour it over the fowl.

Celtic Cookery : Gwledd y Cybydd (The Miser’s Feast)
July 4, 2011, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery
Gwledd y Cybydd (The Miser’s Feast) is a traditional Welsh recipe for a classic, frugal supper of potatoes, onions and bacon rashers boiled together until tender. The full recipe is presented here and I hope you enjoy this classic Welsh version of: The Miser’s Feast (Gwledd y Cybydd).

Original Recipe

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/cym/fetch-recipe.php?rid=gwledd-y-cybydd
Copyright © celtnet


665g potatoes, peeled and sliced
225g onions, peeled and sliced
450g bacon rashers, sliced salt and black pepper, to taste


Place the potatoes and onions in a pan of lightly-salted water and bring to the boil. Once the mixture is boiling add the bacon pieces and season with pepper. Reduce the mixture to a simmer, cover and cook for about 100 minutes. Drain and serve hot.

A variant of this dish, includes Eggs + Back Bacon + Potatoes + Onions + Garlic


  • ½ tsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 small Potatoes (sliced into smallish pieces)
  • ½ to ¾ cup Back Bacon (sliced into smallish pieces)
  • 1 small Onion (diced)
  • 1 tsp. Crushed Garlic
  • 3 Large Eggs

Coat a medium frying pan with the olive oil and add the potatoes. Cook the potatoes over low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes–until they begin getting soft. As the potatoes are cooking, stir and flip them fairly frequently. Add the back bacon, onions, and garlic; cook for another 5 or so minutes, continuing to stir and flip the ingredients. Add the eggs and keep on the heat, while continuing to stir and flip, until the eggs are cooked through.

All rights reserved by the authors.

>Celtic Cookery : How much more basic can you get Oatcakes?
May 30, 2011, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery


On a previous post I wrote about the Beltaine festival and it’s widely spread traditional Scottish food the “Bannocks” which are in fact ate on every celtic festival. Let’s have a further review on it’s irish parallel quoted from the book “Ireland: Dublin, the Shannon, Limerick, Cork, and the Kilkenny Races” by Johann Georg Kohl , 1844 . Posted by kind permission of Conrad Bladey . All rights reserved by the author.
Take oats, mix them in water and let it dry out. Quite basic. Oatcakes are pan Celtic-wherever oats were found. In Scottish farm houses in the 19th century left over oat porridge was placed into a wooden drawer. There it dried out and was sliced and heated to crisp. Surely the oat cake is ancient and a root food.

I returned on foot to the little cabin upon the barren hillock where we had left our cars, and as a hard shower of.hail was falling over the dark plain and among the old ruins, I was compelled, for the sake of shelter, to take a closer inspection of the interior of this cabin.

This gave me an opportunity of watching the preparation of those oat-cakes which play so important u part in the national cookery both of Ireland and Scotland, and which are even found carved upon their monuments, as I have above described, These far-famed cakes are made of oats very roughly ground. The coarse flour is mixed with water, into a thick gritty paste, and spread upon a warmed iron plate. This round iron plate, which is found in the poorest Irish, cabins, is warmed by a handful of lighted straw placed underneath it, and in a few moments the cooking process is over, the paste being taken off in the shape of a hard, thin, dry biscuit. This paste is dignified by the name of cake, and is eaten daily by the poor Scotch and Irish. These cakes are not much more palatable than a mixture of flour and water, made dry and hard, would be, yet many people are passionately fond of them.

The Irish generally assure the stranger, when they show him their oat-cakes, that these are a particularly wholesome, nourishing, nndstrengtheningkindof food, which can be true only when they are compared with the watery, tasteless, and meager potatoes upon which the Irish have to subsist.

The English, generally very curious about our black bread, and to whom the word ” black” seems to convey a kind of horror,* often repeat that with them people would never think of giving such a mess to any but horses ; forgetting that with us nobody would think of giving oats to any but horses, and forgetting how many millions of hungry poor there are in their empire who would be most thankful for this despised black bread, and whom it would certainly nourish much better than oat- paste which they call cake, and the nourishing qualities of which they praise so highly.-

The Ancient Oaten Past

Oats as it turns out are also healthy. Lower your fats! Here is how to connect with the ancient oaten past.


Take a quantity of rolled or other oats. (I ground my oats till it filled a standard quisinart sized food processor bowl after grinding)

Place in food processor- run on high adding oats slowly till a powdery flour is obtained. As fine as you can get it without too much work.

Add in a teaspoon of salt- to taste try and see…

If you don’t’ mind fat add in a few tablespoons of bacon fat. If you don’t mind oil add in a few tablespoons of some form of oil- I found olive oil worked. So be healthy….

Once you grind the flour add in about a cup of whole oats. Place flour mixture in electric mixer- a strong one.

Use the flat paddle blade.

Slowly add cold water till it thickens to a stiff dough but not too hard. The paddle should still turn well enough. Switch paddle to dough hook and run on high for about two minutes.

Let dough sit for about three hours.

The dough will now be hard- don’t worry break it into small bits and pout back into your mixer. Add more cold water and beat with paddle blade till you have a medium stiff mixture. The paddle turns but does not strain.

Once dough is re-constituted roll out to thickness of choice- I like about 1/8 inch. Thinner ones tend to scorch and cook too fast. Toss oat flour and whole oats on the board to flour it so that some oats get stuck to the surface of the dough- not many just the occasional one or several per oatie….

Using a glass or cutter cut out rounds of the dough.

Place the rounds on a dry cookie sheet and bake at low heat- 275-300.
Basically all you are doing is drying them out so if you want to get it done quicker simply raise the temp but keep an eye on them. They are done when between crisp and slightly chewy. Some like them totally crisp. Beware of scorching. Watch carefully even when on low heat.

Place hot oaties into a metal tin with tight lid right out of oven. This helps redistribute the heat and even out the cooking.

Serve with home made butter (take heavy whipping cream beat through whipped cream stage (add salt if you wish-to taste-) till butter separates, strain out curds compress and cool… The oaties are great with cheese. A dram of whiskey should not be refused. The texture should
not be too fine the occasional whole oat should be evident but not too many.

Now you have something that a Bronze Age Celt would recognize!

>Celtic Cookery : Potato Farls
May 12, 2011, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Celtic Cookery


Irish potato cakes are traditional and come under various names: fadge, potato farls, tattie bread, tattie scones or simply “that splodge that I came up with from the leftovers”. Today I share with you this cute review called
“Couldn’t Be easer or more traditional- Potato Farls”, excerpted from Dublin University Magazine – 1854 . Compiled by Conrad Bladey. Posted by kind permission of Conrad Bladey . All rights reserved by the author.

A centerpiece of the Ulster Fry but also very close to Boxty and known as Potato Bread. Boxty is more of a batter and made with raw as well as cooked potatoes. Interesting that these can be given a sweet content generally apples prepared as apple pie filling with brown sugar etc…pre cooked or raw. Apple potato cakes are associated with the eve of St. Brigid’s day (February 1) so they are on my mind.

We recently tried many recipes. The one below was found to be the best. It is interesting that one should not totally mash the potatoes. The potatoes should be well cooked till soft then dried a bit by putting in colander over hot dry pot for a few minutes. The mashing done by hand with other ingredients should not have any hard lumps- hence the well cooked instruction but lumps can be the size of peas or smaller and be ok.

The question of texture and durability is up to the cook. Try less flour first- as in the recipe- handful….if you like the texture leave it that way or add more flour and more hand mixing till you get a more durable cake. Cook till brown on both sides on dry griddle then fry in bacon fat (about 1/2 inch in pan) till crispy on each side.

More durable cakes with more flour are heavier but they will stand up better to a fruit filling. While the potato tastes surprisingly well with the fruit as it is I would add a little sugar-tablespoon or two to the recipe and maybe some spices to the potato. Simply put cake on pan
in raw state. Cook till skins over on bottom put in fruit and fold over on itself. Cook on dry pan till potato is solid then fry in butter.

Here is the basic recipe:
Potato Farls (Rev. J. Mattison,Ulster)

3 large potatoes
Knot of butter (1-2 tablespoon)
Pinch of salt
Handful of soda bread flour

Directions: Boil the potatoes. Mash with knot of butter and salt. Add a
handful of soda bread flour. Dust your baking surface and roll out, about ½-inch thick. Place
on heated griddle. Cook both sides.

Alternative: Potato Oaten are made the same way, but with one handful of pin-headed or ordinary oatmeal
We have reserved to the last the potato-cake, made by bruising, with the bottom of a tin porringer, two cold, well-boiled potatoes, and mixing therewith a pound of the finest Flour, the
yolk of a fresh egg, a print of butter, and a sup of new-milk, the whole being well kneaded, then pounded with a rolling-pin, made into a cake five-eighths of an inch thick, cut into squares and diamonds, baked on a griddle, and, when properly browned and mottled, each piece torn asunder
like a muffin, and a bit of butter slipt in to melt in the interior, and then eaten at tea or breakfast, but particularly at the former, it is because it was the most widely disseminated and universally-
admired form of potato-eating known to all tea-drinkers and cup-toss-ers from Cape Clear to the Causeway.

What do you think? What is your tradition? Great for breakfast and this is an ancient thing that goes way back.