IRELAND!! EIRE!! The land of green, leprechauns, Guinness, shamrocks, potatoes, and awesome accents! (Just digging up the old stereotypes.)
My first travel abroad experience was in Northern Ireland (which I know is different than the Republic of Ireland, don’t kill me), but it is very similar and a whole host of ways, given its kind of a mix of Irish Catholic and Protestant people, all with Irish accents, Irish foods and culture, and Gaelic can be found in both places….I lived in Northern Ireland for a semester in college, but also traveled to the Republic multiple times, and the only noticeable difference I saw was Northern Ireland flew Union Jacks a lot more, and had lots of remnants of the Troubles, and people called it Londonderry instead of Derry, okay, to an American like me, they are very similar!
Anyway, I loved both places, and since they basically had the same foods (since its all one island and they only split into the Republic and Northern Ireland less than 100 years ago), I’m going to use my experiences in Northern Ireland as reference in this blog post!
I could go on talking about Ireland/N. Ireland and my time there for ages. I feel like I should throw on some Celtic Thunder (fun fact, Keith Harkin, the pretty blonde guy in Celtic Thunder was from Derry, where I lived :D…never met him though:( ). While I lived there, my host-family once went on a weekend trip to the coast, and when they came back, they brought this AMAZING loaf of Guinness bread. Thus, I nearly made Guinness bread for my baking stop in Ireland, because I wanted to try replicate that fantastical bread I had once. But when I went to buy a can of Guinness, I discovered Chicago has this weird law that you have to buy 4 or more cans of beer at once, and in even number increments. I don’t like most alcohols, especially beer, and especially a strong, dark beer like Guinness (sorry Irish friends), and wasn’t about to splurge on multiple cans of a beverage I would never drink so….I abandoned that plan, and settled on using an age-old Irish food staple: Potatoes!! And I hadn’t made anything using chocolate yet on my adventure (as my roommate pointed out), so I decided- what better way to combine chocolate and potatoes than in an Irish Chocolate Potato cake!!!
I had never riced a potato before, so that was fun. But I made waaay too much! The recipe said I needed two potatoes. So I got two large potatoes! Turns out, I could have only cooked and riced one. Thus I had lots of extra potato, but…I don’t really see that as a bad thing, because, as my dad always said “Potatoes are the most versatile food ever!” But if anyone tries this recipe..use small potatoes ha!
I blanched and ground my own almonds again for this recipe, because why buy it when you you can make it??? 🙂
I also discovered when I went to make this cake, that despite my meticulous preparation, I did not have enough butter. SO I had to run to the grocery store two blocks away to get my 1/2 pound of butter. Turns out, the cheapest block of butter they had was exactly 1/2 a pound, AND HAPPENED TO BE IRISH!! How fitting! 😉
This was an easy enough recipe. Took it’s sweet time to bake. Also, I hate greasing and flouring bundt cake pans.
Looks okay right????
Dang it. I never have good luck with bundt pans. I think once a bundt cake turned out well. Once.
But alas, I wasn’t going to give up that easily! Might as well try to piece it back together! And then add more chocolate to cover it up because…well, more chocolate.
I melted chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and a bit of vanilla for my glaze.
I got the recipe from HERE which also has a whole slew of other AMAZING sounding Irish recipes that I would love to try, if I had endless time and money! Also there’s just some other interesting info on that page. Check it out!!!
….I just realized I had some Bailey’s in my fridge this whole time and I didn’t take advantage of that while baking this. Fail.
Here’s the recipe:
Irish Chocolate Potato Cake
- 1/2 lb / 225g butter
- 2 1/3 cups / 1 pound / 450g / caster or granulated sugar (superfine works best if you have it handy)
- 4 eggs
- 9 rounded tablespoons grated chocolate (approximately 3 standard squares of baking chocolate, or 90 grams / 3 1/2 ounces of other chocolate)
- 5 rounded tablespoons / 50g / 1 3/4 ounces ground almonds
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 cup / 5 ounces / 150g of cold, sieved or riced cooked potato (see below for specific directions about the potato)
- 2 1/2 cups / 10 ounces / 300g flour (plain flour is fine, but cake flour is better if you have it)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup / 5 fluid ounces / UK 1/4 pint / 150ml milk
For preparing the pan you’ll bake in:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
First prepare your cake pan. A tube pan like a Bundt pan works best for this recipe: but a springform cake pan works fine too.
If using a tube pan or Bundt pan, butter it well inside, paying particular attention to any flutings or crevices in the pan. Then mix the flour and cocoa together and use this mixture to flour the inside of the pan.
If using a springform pan, butter it too: then line it with a circle of buttered baking parchment for the bottom and a strip of buttered baking parchment for the sides.
Now prepare your cooked potato by one of these two methods:
- Boil in unsalted water 2 medium-sized potatoes or 3 small potatoes in their jackets, then drain, cool completely, peel, and rice or sieve.
- Or if you prefer, peel and chunk 2 medium-sized potatoes or 3 small potatoes, boil for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Drain them, dry them briefly over low heat until most of the steam has stopped rising, then remove from heat and mash well, ricing or sieving when fully cooled.
An important note about the potatoes: Do not add them to the batter if they are even slightly warm. If you do, the result will be a heavy cake that may fail to rise, or only rise partway. Also: We have never tried this cake with instant mashed potatoes. Better to play it safe and use the real thing.
Preheat the oven to 350° F / 275° C. Then prepare the cake batter:
Grate the chocolate on a fine grater, or pulse in a food processor, or crush with a mortar and pestle, until reduced to small granules. (The food processor is by far the easiest and fastest way: the grater and mortar-and-pestle are more labor intensive, but produce a slightly finer result.)
When this is done, sift the flour once by itself. Then sift it a second time with the cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Separate the eggs. Add the yolks, one at a time, to the creamed mixture, beating well after each one.
Stir in the grated chocolate, ground almonds and cocoa. Add the sieved potato and stir again.
Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently until smooth after each addition.
When this process is complete, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the whipped egg whites carefully into the cake mixture.
Spoon into the prepared springform pan or Bundt pan / tube pan: tap gently once on the counter to settle. Bake for 1 3/4 hours. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer at the end of this time: bake for another 15 minutes if needed.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for at least twenty minutes before removing from the pan: then cool on a rack.
To finish, frost the chocolate cake with a chocolate-based icing, or (if you prefer the simple approach) dust with confectioners’ sugar / icing sugar.