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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Eat. . . Welsh Cakes

Welsh cakes are a fond memory from my childhood, growing up in South Wales. In recent years I have begun making them a few times a year, and I always make some on St David's Day (he's the Patron Saint of Wales.) I guess you could call it a "new tradition" of mine, but don't tell Sonny Jim, as when we were discussing this concept recently he witheringly told me that "New traditions are axiomatically atypical!" on the basis that a tradition has to be old, in order to have become a tradition. . . but as I reminded him, all traditions had to start somewhere! Anyway, I digress. . .

This year I made Welsh cakes on the 1st March as usual, and took them for a shared lunch at the Wifie's workplace in Motueka. No-one there had tried Welsh cakes before, but everyone liked them and they were intrigued as to how they are baked on a bakestone or griddle rather than in the oven. I am not lucky enough to own a traditional bakestone, so have to make do with a heavy based frying pan, but that does an adequate job. . . A Welsh friend told me that in many old houses in Wales, the bakestone belongs with the house, so that when the house is sold the bakestone stays behind for the new owners. . . what a wonderful concept.

The following recipe is from the little "Welsh Teatime Recipes" book I was given a couple of years ago by a dear friend in Wales. No author is listed but the publisher is Salmon Publishing. You can tell all the recipes in the book are traditional as there are no metric measurements used throughout, but hopefully that won't cause you too much consternation! Any substitutions/changes that I usually make are in brackets.

Welsh Cakes or "Pice ar y maen"/"Tiesen Gri."

1 lb plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch allspice (or ground mixed spice)
(1-2  tsps cinnamon in addition, I like my Welsh cakes spicy!)
A pinch of salt
3 oz butter
3 oz lard (I just use 6 oz butter and no lard)
(6 or) 7 oz caster sugar
4 oz seedless raisins (or currants)
2 eggs, beaten
Milk to mix
Caster sugar to sprinkle on top

Stir together flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the fat. Add sugar and dried fruit. Add beaten eggs to the mixture with a little milk to make a stiff dough.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/4" and cut into 2" rounds with a cutter.

Cook on a greased griddle or heavy based frying pan over a low heat for about 3 minutes each side until golden brown.

Lay cooked Welsh cakes on a clean tea towel and sprinkle with sugar, then fold tea towel over the top to keep them warm. Serve with butter if desired.

(These freeze very well and make great lunchbox treats!)

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