The quantity of memories I have of Wales far surpass the time I actually spent there. I don’t know what sort of magic this wild land spun on me but it certainly made a mark.
Was it sitting on the side of a cliff amongst the ruins of an ancient castle as the sun set? The towns filled with books, stacked against walls outside, lining the castle grounds, piled upon piles of piles in old, musty cellars? The memories of visiting the family of a friend in the valleys, slipping in their icy driveway, eating Welsh-Chinese food in the car from a takeaway deep in mining country? My first taste of cockles and laverbread (seaweed boiled to a black paste) at Swansea Market?
I think though, it was the Welsh Cakes.
The ingredients of a scone (plus sultana and a little spice) but cooked on a griddle like a pancake, these little crumbly delights then rolled in sugar and served hot. The besmocked ladies churn them out by the thousand on the ground floor of Swansea Market, tossing in bags at a rate of knots. At 25p a pop, it’s hard to not grab a hot bag to keep your hands warm in the cold Welsh morning.
Welsh Cakes were traditionally made by the lady of the household as a treat to serve at afternoon tea, and were also given to children with their school lunches. Since they are durable, filling and delicious, Welsh Cakes also became a favored treat of the coal miner husbands of many a Welsh housewife. Indeed they are the perfect size to be slipped into a coat pocket, these sweet reminders of home were often the only bright spots in a miners otherwise dark and dreary day spent toiling “down the mine”.The Welsh Baker
Welsh Cakes (picau ar y maen)Course: Breakfast, Dessert, TeaCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
The perfect teatime treat (or any time of the day, really). A mix between a scone and a pancake, these currant-stuffed, sugar-rolled hot cakes are best served with butter and/or jam.
225g plain flour
85g caster sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g butter, cut into small pieces
50g lard, cut into small pieces
50g currants or small sultanas
1 egg, beaten
- Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl, add a pinch of salt. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard as you would for scones, just until the mix is crumbly.
- Mix in the currants/sultanas. Work the egg in with your fingers until you have soft dough. Add a splash of milk if it seems a little dry. It shouldn’t be too wet – think consistency of shortcrust pastry.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface, to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter. You can re-roll the left overs, no waste here.
- Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard or butter, and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Sprinkle a little extra caster sugar on them as they come off the pan.
- We love them served warm with butter and jam. Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.