While having coffee with my Welsh friend Paul the other day Welsh Cakes (pice ar y maen) wandered into our conversation. I confess I had never heard of Welsh cakes. Being the ever curious cook that I am, we ended up having a long chat about how his mother made her Welsh cakes for the family when they were kids back in Cardiff.
I have to say making these girdled cakes was so intriguing I was up at 6 am the following morning researching recipes and off into the kitchen making Welsh cakes!
The results were a cook’s epiphany. Easily mixed up and onto the griddle in no time. Welsh cakes are scones cooked on a griddle, if you will, but with a lighter billowy center while beautifully browned and slightly crisped on top and bottom. The upside is, unlike scones which are really best eaten right out of the oven, Welsh cakes have staying power. They were often packed into lunch boxes in the old days in Wales, tasting just as griddle fresh throughout the day as well as the following day with a short reheat.
These rustic Welsh gems must be tried! I just love them!
Welsh Cakes: makes 12
This is a basic recipe that makes traditional Welsh cakes that are perfect just as they are. However, feel free to try other dried fruits such as raisins or dried berries. You can also add a pinch or two of spices such as cinnamon or allspice as well as lemon or orange zest.
- 8 oz/225g all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 ½ oz/100g unsalted butter, cold
- 1.8oz/50g fine granulated (caster) sugar + extra for sprinkling
- 1.8oz/50g currants
- 1 organic egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
- a cast iron griddle or cast iron skillet, or heavy bottomed non-stick skillet as an alternative.
- a 2 ½ inch/6 ½cm round biscuit or cookie cutter
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Cut the well chilled butter into small cubes and add them to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or, my preference, use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a course meal, much as you would pastry flour for a pie crust.
Add the sugar and the currants to the flour mixture and stir in with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until well combined.
Beat together the egg and milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and, using the wooden spoon or spatula, work the liquid into the flour mixture until evenly distributed and the dough is starting to come together.
At this point, using your hands, gather the dough into a ball without overworking the dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and flatten the dough a bit. Dust the top of the dough with some flour and flour the rolling pin.
Begin rolling out the dough, giving the dough a quarter turn as you roll it out. If the dough is sticking to the work surface, lift it up and add a little more flour underneath it. Then roll the dough out to about a ¼ inch/ 2/3 cm thickness.
Cut out your cakes with the cutter and set them aside. Gather together the scraps of dough, reform it into ball, flatten it, and roll it out as before. Cut out the remaining cakes and set aside.
Note: I would recommend cooking one cake first as a test run, adjusting the heat of the griddle accordingly to avoid under or over cooking the remaining cakes.
Heat the griddle or skillet over medium low heat. When hot wipe the surface with a little butter and transfer some cakes to the griddle, arranging them so they are not touching one another. Cook for about 2 to 2 ½ minutes and the cakes have risen slightly. Lift up a cake to see if it is a nice golden brown. If so turn the cakes over and cook for another 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Feel the sides of the cakes which should feel slightly soft. If they need a little more cooking time just flip cakes over and cook another minute, but do not over cook!
Transfer the finished cakes to a cooling rack and dust with sugar if you like.
Serve warm just as they are or with preserves and clotted cream (or Greek yogurt)
Store leftovers in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. To reheat, just pop them in the toaster!