5th Birthday Guest Post: A Greedy Tribute to the Welsh Cake (Pice ar y Maen)

In a way it seems fitting that the first guest post is also the first submission.  Kate Harries is originally and very proudly from Wales, but now lives in London. She describes herself as having the sweetest tooth of anyone she knows. She loves baking as it's the perfect escapism from a much-loved, but quite demanding job with the NHS. Earlier this year she put together a little blog documenting her trials and tribulations in the kitchen as she strives to satisfy her sweet tooth.  You can also follow Kate's exploits on twitter too.

Here is Kate's tribute to the humble Welsh cake.

The Welsh cake is the most unassuming of cakes. A world away from its glitzy, fashionable cake-cousin, the cupcake, with its snazzy, rich icing and razzle-dazzle decorations. The Welsh cake in contrast is humble, reserved and unpretentious. But a mighty Welsh baking icon nonetheless.

A classic in the true sense of the word, the Welsh cake is almost as old as the process of baking itself, and was traditionally made on a ‘bakestone’, a flat stone placed on or next to a fire or stove. While some recipes suggest a dollop of jam to accompany the cakes, this is Welsh cake purist writing - these delicious Welsh bakes certainly do not need jam. And in any case, adding jam is one short step from adding cream, which in turn, is one short step from effectively eating a scone.

Baking the Welsh cake brings such comfort and cheer, as the simple ingredients are sifted, rubbed, mixed and finally griddled. The sweet aroma of baking infiltrates every nook of the house. Those first few hot cakes, straight from the griddle scald the tongue but nevertheless are worth it for that first warm, crumbly nibble.

(And a warning: make at least double the quantity specified in the recipe, these bad boys are more-ish. One is not enough and resistance you’ll find, is futile)

If it is not yet obvious from my pontificating above, I am a conventional traditionalist when it comes to Welsh cakes. However, for the more adventurous Welsh cake baker out there, may I suggest a few special varieties? Using honey instead of sugar to give the subtle sweetness for example. Or for a more savoury, yet truly Welsh offering, add 100g sliced leeks and 50g Caerphilly cheese. A Christmassy festive version could include a few spoonfuls of mincemeat. Replacing the currants with cranberry and adding chopped white chocolate would also work a treat.

And if you find yourself in Cardiff Bay, craving a piece of heaven from the Principality, you could do no worse than popping into Fabulous Welshcakes. And if when strolling through town, you are coveting a crackin’ cake, pop into Cardiff Market for a one or two. Or, in my case, a dozen. At least.

Meanwhile, here in London, I console myself being so far away from the Green Green Grass of Home, with this recipe:

Welsh Cakes

Kate's Welsh Cakes - posted with permission of Kate Harries
 Ingredients
125g butter (unsalted, softened at room temperature and cut into small pieces)250g self-raising flour
75g caster sugar
Half a teaspoon mixed spice or cinnamon
100g currants
1 beaten egg
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp milk (if needed)

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs



2. Add the sugar, spice, currants and mix together



3. Mix in the beaten egg and bring together to form a soft dough with a fork, using the milk to bind further if required



4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin roll out the mixture to about 1cm thickness


5. Using a cutter or upturned glass cut out the circles



6. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy frying pan on a medium heat



7. Place the cakes onto the surface and cook one side before gently turning over to cook the other side



8. Cool on a wire rack


Baker’s notes....

Each Welsh Cake takes approximately 2-3 minutes to cook on each side; you should be aiming for a caramel, light brown colour



If the cakes turn a darker colour, quickly, your pan may be too hot



Dust with a little caster sugar to serve



Bendigedig!!

Comments

I love welsh cakes but no matter how much I follow recipes they never come out as nice as my mothers :)

Laura
www.sidestreetstyle.com
Karen S Booth said…
I am another Welsh Cake lover and always make mine on an old blackened griddle/girdle......they always turn out so well on that, as it is heavy cast iron!
Lovely post and blog!
Karen
Ruth said…
I'm not so keen on currants, so cranberry and white chocolate sounds right up my street! Yum!

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