Edith’s Potato Cake

My mother-in-law remembers her mother, who went to America from St Petersburg, making what her children used to call a potato pizza. During a visit to Pennsylvania to stay with my mother-in-law, she and I tried to recreate the recipe as it sounded so good. It was. Now, whenever I bake bread, I save some dough for the potato cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 150 mls (¼ pint) warm water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 250 g (½ lb) strong plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 500 g (1 lb) potatoes
  • 175 g (6 oz) hard or semi-hard cheese, such as red Leicester, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyère
  • salt and pepper

Method

With the first five ingredients make a smooth, elastic dough, cover and let it rise in a warm place. While the dough is having its final rising, peel and boil the potatoes and grate the cheese. When the potatoes are soft, drain them very thoroughly. Mash and season them. Stir in most of the cheese, which will melt in the hot potato. Roll the dough out on a floured worktop, and lay it on a large oiled baking sheet or on an oiled griddle. Spread the potato mixture on top, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for 15 to 20 minutes until both top and pastry are golden brown and crisp.

Experimenting with this recipe, I found I had more dough and more filling than I needed. I pinched off pieces of dough, each about 50 g (2 oz, flattened each piece, spooned a little filling into the centre, and closed the dough over it, pinching it together. When baked, these filled bread rolls were perfect to serve with soup. On another occasion, when I had cheese and potato mixture left over, I worked in a fair amount of flour and used the dough to make potato gnocchi.

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