Oatcake Farls & Potato Cakes - A Great Alternative to Bread for Breakfast and Sumptuous with Soup

The word farl comes from the old word for a forth or forth part (fardell in old Scotch) usually of a round cake, thus a quarter of cake or bread roughly in the form of a triangle. The cake is scored with the knife before baking thus making it much easier to break into fair shares for all when taken from the oven. The farl comes in many variations, there is perhaps the more well-known soda farl from Ireland, which as children we often had for an early tea with butter and jam and also the potato variation, which can also be referred to as a potato scone or cake (photo below). Some people interchange bannock, farl and scone but what is really important is the taste! As with oatcakes, for which I have the recipe at the end of this article, the farl can be cooked on a griddle or frying pan on the top of the oven or as in the following recipe in the oven.

The potato cake above is very easy to make, in the family version I use. It comprises boiled and then mashed potatoes, with a little added butter, which are formed into small cakes. They are then either fried in the pan or on a griddle or, if you have more time and are less hungry, placed onto a lightly buttered tray and put into the top of a hot oven. The cakes are fried or baked on both sides until golden brown and delicious. You can use the flowery or waxy varieties of potato for these and it is also a great way of using up old stored potatoes. We make a lot of these cakes at the beginning of the Winter and then freeze them formed into cakes but uncooked for use later on. It is one of the many joys of the Autumn/Fall Winter season to come in from the cold of the morning feeding the birds to a hot and delicious full English breakfast with potato cakes!

The oatcake farl has much the same ingredients and method as the Scottish oatcake  biscuit, except that it is thicker and the texture is deliciously 'chewy' rather than dry and crisp. It therefore makes a great accompaniment to soup.
Farls like oatcakes are best eaten fresh from the oven.

Gluten-free oats

Oats do not contain gluten, however it is best not to buy and use them, if you are gluten intolerant, unless they are labelled gluten-free. Oats can be contaminated by stray plants when other cereal crops are grown in close proximity. For this reason countries like France, where there are no large dedicated oat-growing areas, can not guarantee their oats to be gluten-free. This is why people often get confused about why all oats are not labelled as suitable for those allergic to gluten.

Oats do contain a protein called avenin and some people may have a reaction to this, with recent research showing that avenin levels vary in differing varieties of oats. One thing from personal experience is that oats have a high level of the protein l-argenine and are to be avoided if you get shingles. Lowering l-argenine intake and increasing l-lysine rich foods with the addition of a tablespoon of coconut oil cured me of painful shingles in a couple of days.


Rolled organic oats for Scottish oatcake recipe 
225g - 8oz rolled oats
1 generous pinch salt
1 tablespoon, butter or butter and palm oil, dripping, bacon fat or lard
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
8 tablespoons (120ml) of hot water 
Extra oats for dusting.


 Chopped organic oats for Scottish oatcake recipe

Chop up the oats using a coffee grinder or liquidiser for a few seconds, this retains the texture of the oats without making a flour.

making organic Scottish oatcakes

Mix the dry ingredients and add the melted fat by pouring into the centre of the mixture.
mixing Scottish oatcake dough

Using a wooden spoon handle or if you are lucky enough to have one, a genuine spurtle, stir well whilst incorporating enough water to make a stiff dough.

kneading the organic Scottish oatcake dough

Powder your hands, bowl or board with chopped oats or oat flour and knead the dough, working quickly.

Gather the dough together into a thick round and turn out onto a board dusted with chopped oats.

Then divide the dough into two and rework into two thick flat cakes of approximately, 10mm or just under ½" using the flat of the hand.
Lightly score and thus mark out the farls with a sharp knife and place on a buttered baking tray in an oven preheated  to 390°F or 200°C. Cook for approximately 20-30 minutes. Or, if you decide to make the traditional way, cook on a medium heated griddle or frying pan for approximately 3-5 minutes per side. When they are cooked the edges will begin to curl and turn golden brown. Remove them from the heat and leave to cool slightly on a wire tray.

These are delicious at any time, used for either a sweet or savoury. Here below I am using them for aubergine (eggplant) caviare, the recipe for which will be coming shortly. Enjoy!

If you have enjoyed this recipe then please think about sharing it and/or joining this or any other of our blogs. We also love to get feedback so feel free to comment and/or ask questions.

Bon App├ętit and hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,
All the best,


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©  Sue Cross 2016



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