Appalachia Appalachian Food

Arsh Potato Cake

Today’s Mountain Flavor’s Class is going to be ‘fancy day’. We’ll be making cakes that mountain cooks usually only make for special occasions-you know like for holidays, weddings, or birthdays. My favorite fancy cake is Arsh Potato Cake-Granny has made it since I was a kid.

Irish Potatoe Cake

 

She said she got the recipe from a lady she used to work with in Hayesville. It seems to be an old recipe-you can tell from the ingredient list-it calls for things like sweet milk and a lump of butter.

Older folks in my part of Appalachia often call white potatoes arsh (Irish) potatoes. They call them that to differentiate white potatoes from sweet potatoes. I’ve heard Granny and Pap say arsh potato my whole life.

The cake is time consuming to make-and it’s so rich you can’t eat more than a small piece at a time-but it’s so good!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup warm mashed potatoes (If I have mashed potatoes left over from supper-I pop them in the freezer so I’ll have them when I make the cake. Or you can boil up a potato and mash it right when you need it.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sodie (baking soda)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sweet milk (just regular whole milk)
  • 1 cup black walnuts
  • 3 egg whites beaten light (save the yolks for the icing)

Icing

  • 1 cup sweet cream (or evaporated milk)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 beaten egg yolks
  • 1 lump butter (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 cup black walnuts or less or none
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Black Walnut Cake

~first beat egg whites till light and fluffy; set aside.

~cream butter and sugar thoroughly

Best black walnut cake
~sift together all the dry ingredients except the cocoa; set aside

Potato cake
~after the butter and sugar are creamed add cocoa and vanilla; mix well

~add mashed potatoes mix well

Back walnut potato cake
~alternately add dry ingredients and milk; mix well after each addition ~fold in black walnuts

~fold in egg whites

~pour into greased and floured cake pans (I use two 8 inch round cake pans and have enough batter left to put in a small loaf pan. I think Granny uses her 9 inch round cake pans and it works out.)

~bake at 350 for 30 minutes or till done (It takes 28 minutes in my oven for the size pans I use.)

~remove cake from pans and let cool (Mine always stick a little-maybe you could use parchment paper to prevent sticking? But since I worry more about taste than appearance I never take the time to try it.)

Coconut icing
~to make the icing-cook cream, sugar, and reserved egg yolks over low heat until thick (The icing isn’t very thick-its more the pour and let drip kind.)

~remove from heat; stir in butter

~stir in coconut and black walnuts

Arsh Potato Cake
~I don’t worry about the sides-I place one layer on the cake stand pour some icing on it- then place the other layer on top and add the rest of the icing spreading it evenly on top-allowing it to drip where it will down the sides.

The cake is actually sweet enough that if you wanted to forgo the icing it would still be very tasty-especially with a big glass of  cold milk.

If you decide to try the recipe-please let me know if you like it.

Tipper

p.s. I looked in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English to see if the word ‘arsh’ was in there-it was. The book documents the word being used in 1939-Roaring Fork TN; 1942; 1991-Haywood Home.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    James Abbott
    April 1, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    I was raised in northern Alabama where the pronunciation is AISH ( EYEsh) .

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    July 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

    This cake sounds and looks delicious, Tipper! The icing is very similar to the one I put on my German chocolate cake.

  • Reply
    Susi Jones Pentico
    July 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    MY goodness this is one of Grandma’s Recipes we have used all my life. Yup the Scott line is showing. My favorite way to eat Black Walnuts besides in home made icecream. English walnuts will not give the flavor but you can purchase Black Walnut flavoring at high end baking stores.

  • Reply
    Susi Jones Pentico
    July 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    MY goodness this is one of Grandma’s Recipes we have used all my life. Yup the Scott line is showing. My favorite way to eat Black Walnuts besides in home made icecream. English walnuts will not give the flavor but you can purchase Black Walnut flavoring at high end baking stores.

  • Reply
    Susi Jones Pentico
    July 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    MY goodness this is one of Grandma’s Recipes we have used all my life. Yup the Scott line is showing. My favorite way to eat Black Walnuts besides in home made icecream. English walnuts will not give the flavor but you can purchase Black Walnut flavoring at high end baking stores.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Tipper,
    Just thought I’d mention #4 “Mrs.
    Robinson”, by the Pressley Girls and
    the whole Blind Pig Gang. You all do
    a Super Job also on #6 and #8. This is
    one of the best items on your blog and
    sometimes I just let it play on and on.
    …Ken

  • Reply
    ima cook ii
    July 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    i wunder whut yer cake ud look like if yew usd sum uv em blue taters stead uv arsh taters er sum uv em yaller yukin goled taters mabee i wooden use no green taters tho cuz mama sez tha r piezen
    wooden butter milk wirk bettern sweet cuz itud pervied acid fur the sodie an mak it rize up moor

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    July 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    My mother always said Arsh potato, plus many other Irish ways of saying words. She was raised in Grainger Cty, Tn, and lived in the Knoxville area. She died in 2001 & I miss her way of talking. I love reading what you share. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Tipper,
    I got the receipe from one of your
    earlier posts and haven’t tried it yet.
    Sure looks good. Walnuts are one thing
    I’m blessed with, providing me with
    rest “In the Shade at the End of the Row.” …Ken

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    My parents both said Irish potato or ‘arsh’ for some reason probably school, I started saying white or gold (my favorite) potatoes.

  • Reply
    Tom
    July 17, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Tipper-We LOVE the arsh potato cake and make it often. We like it with or without the icing. This recipe has been in our BP recipe folder since the first time we made it!

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    July 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Yum! Nuts and coconut, that’s a cake for me!
    Pam

  • Reply
    dolores
    July 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

    This looks so yummy; I can just imagine it touching and tasting my taste buds. Oh, I’m dreaming of making one of these and eating most of it. I might have to share, but I will hide some for a midnight snack. I can see my waistline shrinking; it’s diet food right?

  • Reply
    Shirla
    July 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

    This cake sounds yummy! I will have to wait until company is coming before I make it or I might eat the whole thing.
    My parents always called them arsh taters or ice taters. I’ve never heard anyone else call them ice taters. Maybe that was an Eastern KY thing.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 17, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Looks like a beautiful Blue Ridge plate you have that slice of Arsh Potato Cake plated on in the first picture?
    I love Blue Ridge, just perfect for a country kitchen! Your Mom (Granny) may remember when folks in those little roadside stores in the mountains used to sell Blue Ridge. They were displayed outside in racks along with a hand painted sign that read $4.99 a set. A wire hung from a nail to a post on both sides of the store. On the line, were chenille peacock patterned bedspreads as well as other patterns swaying in the breeze.
    Those were the good ole days, we just didn’t realize it!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS. Remember that these days are your good old days! So enjoy every day!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

    That cake sure looks delicious and fits the bill for fancy cake.
    Your making me hungry this morning for some fancy cake.
    I’ve heard arsh all my life but Tipper, it’s not arsh potato it’s arsh tater!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 17, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Tipper,
    I like it already and I haven’t even made it. It reminds me of Italian Cream Cake. I don’t think you could ever go wrong making a cake with black walnuts in it. I’m out of black walnuts will English Walnuts do the trick?
    I bet you those Black Walnuts just add that special flavor mixed with the potato!
    And yes, I’ve heard Arsh potato all my life as well. Now then in city company we say “Irish” with a glint in our eye!
    Would you know that one time I met a lady and as we were talking recipes, she said to me, “Do you mean white potatoes?”
    I almost responded with, “No, these are those special potatoes that are imported from Ireland, you know arsh potatoes! LOL
    Cakes and Pies! Oh my!
    Thanks for the recipe!

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