Samhain Boxty Cakes

Posted by Tara Whelan on

Boxty is one of those dishes that screams "traditional" and brings you a taste of a past when food was naturally simple, organic, nurturing and delicious. Found on the Sligo/Donegal borders, in Cavan and over the border into Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry, Boxty was a common dish which makes use of that most Irish of produce, the wonderful and versatile potato.

The name Boxty very likely derives from the old Irish word ‘bacstai’, or ‘Aran bocht-ti’, meaning ‘poor-house bread’. This dish was traditionally eaten at Halloween (Samhain as gaeilge) on the 31st of October, probably because potatoes are abundant in autumn and winter and it was a simple meal which could sustain and satisfy as the weather dampened and cooled. 

This speciality of the northern border counties is currently back in vogue (but who care about trends) and a number of chefs are serving Boxty in different ways- for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. Once you have the basics, your potato cake creations are really only limited by your imagination!



50g Cream flour
4 Large Rooster potatoes, peeled and grated
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of bread soda, sieved
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying


1. Put grated potatoes, flour, bread soda, egg, salt and pepper into a bowl. Mix well, until all ingredients are blended together. 

2. Heat a little oil on a frying pan, when hot drop spoonfuls of mixture onto pan and fry for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Flip and repeat.

3. Some serving ideas for your Boxty:

  • Add spring onion or dillisk to your potato mix
  • Top with poached eggs and crispy bacon for brekkie or brunch
  • Or poached smoked haddock and parsley sauce for a fab supper
  • Boxty is best served hot but a chilled or ambient boxty would work well with smoked salmon and sour cream. Make tiny baby Boxty for use as appetizers.
  • Top with smoked bacon and cheddar cheese- anytime!

Note! Use as soon as mixture is mixed- if you let it stand for a length of time, the mixture can discolour. 

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