Welsh Cakes

20 Sep

This summer I spent a week with my family in Cardigan, West Wales I grew up in Wales but pretty close to the border and with English parents so I had a sort of Welsh “lite” upbringing, which means I don’t speak Welsh but can read the road signs, I can sing a passable version of the national anthem if pressed and I had to dress up in National Dress for St Davids Day. That traumatic annual experience might have been enough to put some people off but since I’ve been away I’ve grown to appreciate Wales much more that I did when I was there. Cardigan really feels like being in Wales (sorry Chepstow) and after a week of walking past bakeries selling Bara Brith and fresh Welsh Cakes I couldn’t wait to cook them again especially as I had nabbed a cast iron pan from my Mum, the closest thing to a traditional bakestone I could get without spending money.

For my first attempt in 15 years and without parental supervision I don’t think they turned out too badly, although I could have rolled them more thinly. The recipe I used is from Elizabeth Luards wonderful book A Cooks Year in a Welsh Farmhouse, they aren’t as sweet as some and don’t include mixed spice as some recipes do. They were wonderful but I did miss the slight spicyness so would add a little next time. Luard also doesn’t dredge her Welsh cakes with caster sugar, something we always did and I prefer. However, these cakes did go very well with cheese (a successful experiment by The Man) as well as being eaten plain or with butter (as Luard suggests) so they were a bit more versatile than very sweet / spiced ones.

Ingredients

500g self-raising flour
50g butter, diced plus extra for greasing
125g sultanas and/or raisins
125g caster sugar
2 eggs plus a little extra water

Method

Put the flour in a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips as if making a pastry. Mix in the fruit and sugar. Whisk the eggs with their own volume of water (measure with an eggshell) and work the liquid into the flour mixture till you have a soft rollable dough – I needed a little more water than this.

Tip the dough onto a well-floured board and roll it out to the thickness of a couple of £1 coins – about 5 mm. Cut into circles with a  biscuit cutter or sharp-edged teacup

Gently and thoroughly heat a griddle or a heavy frying pan. To test whether it’s hot enough, sprinkle the surface with a pinch of flour – if it toasts golden within 4-5 seconds without burning, the heat is correct; if it smokes and blackens immediately the metal is too hot. Wipe with a buttery cloth then slip the cakes onto the hot metal. Wait till the underside is browned and the surface begins to look dry, then turn them gently and brown on the other side. Allow 6-8 minutes in all. Best eaten fresh and warm, but they re heat quite well in a toaster.

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