To many, the humble Welsh Cake is synonymous with St David’s Day, March 1st, but not for me. For me, these little delights are a year-round temptation. How such a small, seemingly harmless morsel can cause such great fractions in my resolve is utterly remarkable. The root of evil in my dietary plans, I am simply unable to turn the offer of one down. Best proffered still warm from the griddle, with a sprinkling of caster sugar (and certainly not served singularly on the plate), I am yet to find anyone who can resist the temptation of this home-made little wonder.
An enigma of the cake world, the Welsh Cake is neither scone, cookie nor pancake, but is often compared to being a cross between the above. Yet to consider it such is to do it an injustice. While the ingredients are similar to that of a scone, and it is cooked on a griddle, much like a pancake, the resulting product is something so unique that nothing else comes close to being its competitor. They are not a quick or easy treat to make; love, time and care must be invested in their crafting, as our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents before them have done so. While we live in a busy world, it is hard sometimes to find the time to make delicacies such as these, and while I urge you to try and find the time, fear not, for there are some wonderful people out there who have gone to the effort for you! If you are Cardiff based, then you must check out Cardiff Bakestone and Cakes located in the heart of Cardiff market, and the fabulous people at Fabulous Welshcakes, in their shop down Cardiff Bay – both of whom offer both the traditional and more adventurous flavours.
Traditionally cooked over a hot bake-stone, Welsh Cakes have been known by many names over the generations: Bakestones, Griddle Cakes, Teisen Gymraeg, and picau ar y maen to name but a few. Yet regardless of what name we know them by, the basics are always the same. The traditional form of these cakes sees them lightly spiced (normally with cinnamon or mixed spice) and feature currants in a flour, butter, sugar and egg base. While these cakes are the norm, some variations are becoming popular which tend to replace the currants with alternative flavourings such as chocolate chips, desiccated coconut, apricot and walnut, cranberry, apple, citrus, etc.
So go on, if you’ve not taken the plunge before now, here’s a recipe for a traditional Welsh Cake – give it a try! And if you are already a Welsh Cake fan, please, spread the love.
Welsh Cake Ingredients:
- 225g/8oz plain flour
- 75g/3oz caster sugar
- 100g/4oz butter
- 50g/2oz currants
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp mixed spice
- A pinch salt
- 1 egg
- A little milk to bind
Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a mixing bowl. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until a crumbly consistency. Add the sugar, pinch of salt and dried fruit to the mix then pour in the egg (beaten). Mix together to form a soft dough – if it seems a little dry, try adding a splash of milk.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface – it should be roughly as thick as your little finger. Cut out rounds using a pastry cutter or similar. Lightly grease a flat griddle pan and place over a medium heat. The Welsh Cakes should take approximately 3 minutes on each side to cook – they will be golden brown in colour. Make sure the griddle is not too hot or the cakes will cook on the outside but not in the middle. Once cooked, lightly sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to cool a little before serving.