When you work on something that’s nearly 600 pages long, you are often very enthusiastic about the initial chapters (Bread and Cakes; hurrah), but completely fed up by the time you get to the final ones (Desserts and Supper; boo). For most of this summer, therefore, as sets of Short and Sweet proofs went back and forth, the word farl (p. 536) signified ‘nearly finished this f***ing book’. It was only as we got closer and closer to the end of the project that I became quite fond of this particular recipe, not only because it was a sign that we were nearly there but also because it was simple (four steps) yet unusual. I had heard of, cooked even, potato cakes but pumpkin ones, with cider?
Last night, I tested my fondness and, reader, I am glad that this recipe is tucked in to what is (and yes, I am ridiculously biased) a brilliant book. If you, like me, have some cooked pumpkin or butternut squash knocking around the kitchen this week (can’t imagine why) and want to use it up, these are perfect, but apparently you can use cooked carrot as well and I imagine you could replace the cider with apple juice if you want to make them without alcohol. They’re a bit like hash browns, or bubble and squeak, but more elegant and a lot tastier. Lepard recommends serving them with a poached egg and bacon; fried eggs and some Serrano ham (which is what I had) were a good substitute. Fab for using up bits and pieces in the fridge (grated cheese, half an onion, bit of cooked veg), easy and fast: I started cooking at 6.25pm and I was eating them with The Archers for company.
Things to note: at first you won’t believe that the mixture will form any kind of dough (there seems to be too much flour for the pumpkin/cheese) but once you add the onions and butter it all, well, comes together.
Pumpkin and cider farls (adapted from Dan Lepard‘s Short and Sweet)
For two portions (two each) you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
medium white onion, ½
plain flour, 125g
Cheddar, or other hard mature cheese, 4og
sea salt and ground black pepper
baking powder, 1 teaspoon
sunflower oil, a splash for frying
pumpkin or butternut squash, 125g
dry cider, 25ml
1. First, if your pumpkin/squash is not already cooked, peel and deseed it then cut it into small pieces. Cook it in your preferred way (I steamed it for about 5-10 minutes) then put it in a large mixing bowl.
2. Peel and finely chop the onion and put it, with the butter, in a large lidded saucepan. Cook it on a low heat for about five minutes then cover it, turn off the heat and leave to steam for another five minutes.
3. Add the flour, a pinch of salt and pepper, baking powder, cider, onion and buttery juices to the pumpkin/squash and mix together. It should form a stiff dough but add a tiny bit more flour if it is a little wet. Now roll it out into a circle/piece about 1cm thick and cut into four pieces.
4. Heat a small amount of sunflower oil in a large frying pan and, when it is is good and hot (test the temperature by dropping in a scrap of the dough; it should sizzle not sit), add the farls. Cook them for about a minute on each side to crisp up then turn the heat down and leave them to cook for about another three minutes on each side to cook through. When golden on both sides and cooked in the middle (remember there is flour that needs to cook so don’t rush them) serve with something soft (an egg), something salty (ham or bacon) and some salt and pepper.