Old-fashioned Potato Cakes

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, March 13, 1912:  Nothing of much account did I do today.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to give you another old recipe. This one is for Potato Cakes, and it’s a great way to use left-over mashed potatoes.

When I was a child we frequently ate Potato Cakes. My memory is that they were a very traditional Pennsylvania food—and I can picture Grandma eating them when she was a teen.

I hadn’t made Potato Cakes in years until I decided to make them for this post. I don’t have a written recipe—but this is how I made them.

Old-Fashioned Potato Cakes

left-over mashed potatoes

shortening or lard

After the meal where the mashed potatoes were served, take the left-over potatoes, shape into flat patties and press firmly. Put on a plate, cover and refrigerate. Will keep for several days.

When ready to make the Potato Cakes, melt enough shortening in a heavy frying pan to cover the pan to a depth of about 1/8 inch. Slip the patties into the hot shortening. Fry until golden brown; flip and fry on the other side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

The amounts are very flexible. When I made the mashed potatoes, I made more than I typically would—and then I just used all of the left-over potatoes to make the potato cakes.

The Potato Cakes turned out great. My husband and I enjoyed eating them, and I’m planning to make them again in the near future.

7 Responses

  1. Sheryl, I love potato cakes! Mom used to make them for us when we had leftover mashed potatoes. I believe she added egg and flour to them as well, so they were more like a potato pancake. Very good though.

  2. My mother made them as well and added an egg. I make them regularly, although mine don’t turn out as golden as your photo. Maybe I’m not using enough hot grease. No Penn. connection either.

    • It’s interesting how different people make recipes with slight variations. I suppose the egg would help keep the potato cakes from falling apart–though I didn’t have any problems. I think you’re right that it’s important that the grease is hot. I’m also a real fan of cast iron pans–I think that the thickness of the pan results in the heat being spread very evenly and that things brown really nicely.

  3. Have you tried them at Arby’s – they make them in a triangle… ;-)

  4. Looks good, though I didn’t read through the recipe. I really have to go through your recipes sometime and try to make a few!

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