I realised recently that I don’t know many recipes that originate in Wales. I’ve done English, Scottish, Irish…even Icelandic. But no Wales, as yet. So here you go – Welsh Cakes!
In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that I’m not really sure what makes the perfect Welsh Cake. I can express an opinion on scones, and I know my stuff when it comes to a Victoria Sponge, but with Welsh Cakes, I’m not really sure what they taste like when bought, freshly made, from a little old bakery in the Rhondda Valley.
However, for a first attempt, I am frankly delighted with how they have turned out. These are little griddle cakes, made with quite a lot of butter and a good amount of currants and a dash of nutmeg. They are made with self-raising flour, so they puff up a little bit during cooking (not baking) to they become lighter, and they take on a rather attractive golden brown colour. Once cooked, they are rolled in caster sugar, and they taste best while still warm, so they are pretty easy to run off at short notice.
For my recipe, I did a little digging, and there is a bit of variety out there. Some use currants, some don’t. Some add nutmeg, others avoid it. But what I did see it that the common ratios seem to be 8-4-3-3-1 (flour, butter, sugar, currants and an egg). I’ve stuck with those proportions (remarkably for me, I even measured in ounces for a change!) but I’ve put the amounts in grammes as well for our metric cousins. I also took the lead from Angharad at Eating For England, who thinks currants are an absolute must – and I agree – you need those little bursts of juicy sweetness. You can also read her lovely post about rediscovering a family recipe for Welsh Cakes here.
I’ve seen various shapes when making Welsh Cakes, but I think the fluted look if pretty nifty. Nifty, and an excuse to use a cutter set I acquired before Christmas. But I reckon that round is probably more authentic.
So here they are! Little Welsh Cakes, filled with plump currants, aromatic nutmeg, rolled in sugar and delicious while still warm with a cup of tea.
To make Welsh cakes (makes 18):
• 8oz (225g) self-raising flour
• 4oz (115g) salted butter
• 3oz (85g) caster sugar
• 3oz (85g) currants
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 egg
• splash of milk
Combine flour and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the currants, sugar and nutmeg. Add the egg and knead until the mixture comes together as a soft dough – add a tiny splash of milk if too dry. You won’t need much.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface, roll to just over 1/2 cm thick, and cut out circles (use a scalloped cutter if you have one, it looks nice, but a round cutter is just fine).
Put a griddle or frying pan onto a medium heat. Grease very lightly with a little butter, then reduce to low-medium heat. Put 4-5 cakes in the pan at the same time, and cook for a couple of minutes, then flip over. Make sure the pan is not too hot – you don’t want to end up with burnt outsides and uncooked middles!
Worth making? I really recommend these cakes. Quick and easy to make, and very tasty.