Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Welsh Cakes Post (AM)

One of the first things I did when I got to Wales was eat a Welsh Cake, then another, and another and another and another.
I then frequently  referred to Welsh Cakes on Miss Soft Crab, but only in passing, promising I would one day write a proper post giving them the attention they deserve. 
This is that post!
And this is what Welsh Cakes look like sitting atop a piece of Welsh slate:

Oh Welsh cakes. 
Never before has a cake looked so very bland and tasted so very wonderful. 
When I first saw them at my local deli I thought they looked like a thin scone or a fat pikelet and neither option was terribly interesting to me. But I with so many sweet treats that don't look terribly interesting, I was drawn to them in their blandness, just in case my first impression was wrong. And finally I have all the encouragement I need to continue trying things that don't look terribly interesting, because when it comes to Welsh Cakes, I was wrong my readers, I was completely wrong. 

Those first Welsh cakes I tasted had the spice of a hot cross bun, but a rich butteriness making them more akin to croissant than scones. I loved them straight away. Some I heated in the oven and they were delicious. Some I ate as they were, and they were delicious. When I finished the pack from the fancy deli, I bought others. From bakeries, from supermarkets, from any damn place I could get my mitts on them.   They were all delicious. Most I ate with Welsh butter and it made the already delicious even more delicious.
 It turns out that Welsh cakes are made with dough, not batter, and are traditionally cooked on a Welsh bakestone, which is a stone for baking in Wales. 

I bought a cookbook called Welsh Bake-stone cookery so I could make my very own Welsh cakes. 

I'm yet to do it, but I will readers, I will. And in case you want to get to it before me, here is Bobby Freeman's recipe for Welsh cakes. 

225 grams of self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder 
125 grams of butter (cut into cubes)
75 grams of sugar
75 grams of currants
1 large egg and a little milk
A good pinch of mixed spice and an extra pinch of nutmeg

Add the spice to the flour, and rub in the butter.  Add the sugar and  the currants. Beat the egg with a little milk, then add to the flour mix until it forms a stiffish paste akin to shortcrust but a little softer.
Roll out on a floured board to 1/4 inch thick, then cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds and bake on a greased, moderately hot bakestone for 3-5 minutes each side until mottled with golden brown. 

Obviously none of us have Welsh bakestones, so cook on a griddle or heavy based frypan instead. Bobby Freeman says you can also cook them in a dutch oven which produces cakes that "are firm on the outside, soft and melting within." I don't have a problem with that. 

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