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Welsh cakes – or Pice ar y Maen, in the mother tongue, are hard to describe to someone who’s never had one. Sort of like a fruit scone, but thinner, denser, cooked on a bakestone or griddle then covered in sugar. If you’ve only had them bought from a shop, then I don’t consider you to have actually tried Welsh cakes, tbh. They’re so different when eaten warm and freshly made, shopbought are pretty much stale thick garibaldi biscuits (in the worst way).
This recipe is a very basic version of Welsh cakes. Others I’ve seen online require lard, honey and for some reason Jamie Oliver thinks they need a filling with cream and fresh fruit (?!?!?!?!) But this recipe is a simple one, copied from an old tea towel. The method on my tea towel is quite vague so I’ll elaborate to fill you in on all the juicy deets to ensure you don’t end up with Welsh crumbs rather than Welsh cakes.
Now, I am well aware that it’s October and St David’s day isn’t here for another 5 months, BUT, these are much more of a wintery/autumnal sort of bake in my opinion. Nutmeg? Currants? Lovely carby things? Sounds like Christmas to me!
- 1/2 lb, 8 oz, 225g or 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 4 oz, 115g or 1/2 a cup (one American “stick”) of cold butter cut into cubes
- 3 oz, 85g or somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 a cup of caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 3 oz, 85g or a heaped 1/2 a cup measure of a mix of raisins, currants or sultanas – pick your favourite, or mix them all!
- 1 egg
- Milk if required
- Vegetable oil
These quantities make enough to fill a dinner plate to the brim with Welsh cakes.
- A large bowl
- A spoon
- A rolling pin (or a wine bottle)
- A round cutter (plain or fluted)
- A bakestone, cast iron pan or other heavy-bottomed cookware
- A palette knife
- Kitchen roll
Me and my actually legit Welsh mother both use a cast iron crepe pan to make our Welsh cakes. You just need something thick and heavy that will retain heat. If you’re reading this in October 2019, you can get 30% off the same Staub crepe pan I have, with code AUTUMN30.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and nutmeg into a large bowl. If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.
- Rub your cubes of cold butter into the dry mixture until it resembles fine bread crumbs. You can do this in a food processor if you’re lazy/like washing up.
- Add the egg, sugar and dried fruit, then mix evenly until it forms a firm but malleable lump. If you have problems bringing your mixture together, add a teaspoon of milk.
- Put your bakestone or pan on the cooker to warm. It’s best to start at a low setting, my electric hob goes up to 6 and I use a 2.
- Use a piece of kitchen towel to spread a thin layer of vegetable oil onto your pan.
- Sprinkle your working surface and rolling pin with flour and roll your dough to a thickness of half a centimetre or a 1/4 inch.
- Use your cutter to cut out 6 rounds.
- Put them onto your bakestone or pan, when you can see that the dough has become firmer after a couple of minutes, use a palette knife to flip your Welsh cakes. They should be golden brown in colour.
- Once the other side has cooked, take your cakes off the heat and put them onto a plate sprinkled with caster sugar.
- Make sure they’re well coated with sugar while still warm then put them somewhere to cool.
- Repeat stages 5 – 11 until you run out of dough.
- Enjoy your Welsh cakes while they’re still fresh!
There’s a knack to actually cooking Welsh cakes, there’s a thin line between burning them and still having a doughy middle – plus attempting to keep them in one piece! After your first few rounds of six you should get used to it, though. Top tip: if you’re choosing between cutter sizes, smaller is easier to flip.
Let me know if you give it a try, it’s something different to bake when you’re bored of fairy cakes and brownies.