I have a soft spot for Wales.
Having spent four happy years there in my student days, I have very fond memories of my time in Wales and the great friendships I forged. We still return there as a family now annually to visit friends and it is a trip we all love.
During this time, and on our numerous return visits, I have eaten freshly home baked Welsh Cakes but have never made them myself.
With St. David’s Day (Saint David being the Patron Saint of Wales) fast approaching on 1st March, I thought I would give them a try.
These little Welsh Cakes (or ‘Pice ar y maen’ in Welsh) are small, scone-like cakes traditionally cooked on a bake stone (I used a frying pan). They are usually served warm, coated in sugar but can be served with butter, or honey.
So as this was my first attempt, some recipe research was in order. I looked at a number of trusted sources, Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith, ‘BBC Food’ online and a traditional Welsh Food recipe from ‘Flavours of Wales’ by Gilli Davies. It was interesting to see that the fundamental ingredients of flour, butter, sugar and egg were a constant, but other ingredients varied.
For me this was an opportunity to come up with some recipe development. (This is something I would like to experiment with in the future – so nice to come up with family, heirloom recipes, don’t you think?).
A spread sheet was therefore in order. It was interesting, for me anyway, how the quantities varied and the inclusion, or exclusion of certain ingredients.
So for my recipe, I took the most common ingredients and applied the most common percentage ratios. I also, included ingredients that I have sampled and enjoyed in a local, home baked Welsh Cake. For me, sultanas are a must. So much more juicy and substantial than currants, or indeed no fruit at all as per one of the recipes. Mixed spice is also a definite for me here. What makes these a little bit more special to me is the butter. I used a salted butter – a course sea salt variety which adds a fabulous, random, salty crunch to the otherwise sweet little cakes. Delicious, even though I do say so myself.
The cakes are a wonderful teatime treat and easy to make to boot. Put some daffodils in a vase, put the kettle on and heat the pan to make some lovely Welsh Cakes. Happy St. David’s Day!
- 225g self raising flour
- 75g golden caster, or caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 110g course sea salt butter, or salted butter, cubed
- 75g sultanas
- 1 egg, beaten
- 'Splash' of milk
- 75g caster sugar, for coating (optional)
- Alternatively, serve with butter or honey
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and mixed spice. Add the cubed butter and mix to form a crumb/sand-like consistency. Add the sultanas and mix further. Beat the egg and add to the mixture along with a 'splash' of milk. Combine until the dough comes together and form a ball.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a thickness of approximately 5-7mm thick. With a cutter, approximately 6cm in diameter, cut the rounds. Re-roll the dough and repeat until all the dough has been cut.
- Place a large pan over a medium/low heat. With a piece of kitchen towel, wipe the pan with a little butter. Place 4-6 rounds in the pan and cook for approximately 3 minutes each side. They will puff up a little and should be a rich, golden colour when cooked. Be careful as they 'brown' easily.
- Pour the sugar for the coating into a small bowl. Toss the hot cakes into the sugar, thoroughly coating. Repeat the cooking and sugar coating with the remaining cakes.
- Serve warm. As an alternative to the sugar coating, serve with butter and jam, or honey.
- Store in an airtight container. Still delicious when warmed through in the oven.
Source: The Contented Baker, as calculated above. Welsh name from Wikipedia.