Keeping Alive a Tradition #2: Welsh Cakes

This is my second, and much belated, entry in the ‘Keeping Alive a Tradition’ series which aims to bring to the fore any recipes which have had a particular bearing on my heritage. The first recipe, cawl, is a favourite of mine and though it is well known nationally, it remains rather unappreciated on an international scale. Welsh cakes share no such problem as they are widely available throughout the United Kingdom and probably beyond, though I have no evidence of that. Nevertheless, a series of posts dedicated to Welsh cuisine couldn’t possibly be considered credible without the inclusion of these delicious drop scones.

Welsh cakes are traditionally cooked on an iron griddle which is then placed over one’s fireplace and left until the cakes are golden brown in colour. However, I appreciate that not everyone has access to a cast iron griddle or an open fire; I certainly don’t, so a heavy based saucepan on an electric hob will do. The most basic of Welsh cakes are flavoured using only sultanas, though one may complicate the recipe by adding mixed spice, nutmeg or cinnamon – I didn’t bother as they are quite delicious enough without unnecessary distraction. I am also of the opinion that real butter must be used in the process of making Welsh cakes, since it provides a steadfast body of flavour and richness which accompanies the other ingredients rather nicely.

The cooking of these drop scones is definitely the most difficult part of the process, which I suppose isn’t saying much. One must ensure that they are cooked in as little butter as possible over a fairly low heat, this will prevent them browning too quickly – if this happens they will likely not have had enough time to cook through. The butter is there simply to prevent the Welsh cakes from sticking; it plays very little part in the actual cooking process, though it probably adds to their immense flavour.

Welsh Cakes

Makes 16-20

Ingredients:

• 230g self-raising flour

• 110g butter

• 75g caster sugar

• 1 egg, beaten

• A generous handful of sultanas

• ½ tsp mixed spice, nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Method:

1. Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly, then rub in the butter until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Mix in the sultanas until they appear uniform throughout, mix in the beaten egg until you are able to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. The egg itself should provide adequate moisture to facilitate this, though one may add a tiny dash of milk.

2. Roll out the dough until just under a centimetre thick, proceed to cut the dough into circles roughly the same size as those depicted – perhaps 5cm in diameter. Once all the dough has been used fry them off in heavy based frying pan that has been greased with butter, they require roughly 2-3 minutes on each side. If they brown too quickly reduce the heat, remove the pan from the stove and try again.

Cost: These really are frugal little cakes and a batch of this size should set one back no less than £1.10. However, I had to go on a bit of a wild goose chase in order to acquire some reasonably priced sultanas. In the end they set me back roughly 17p per 100g!

95 thoughts on “Keeping Alive a Tradition #2: Welsh Cakes

  1. Smedette

    Oh my goodness, these look so good! I’ve never heard of Welsh Cakes, nor Sultanas (which, I’m assuming are a type of raisin?).

    Cannot wait to try these; or at least a version of them with local ingredients.

  2. jacqueline

    I can confirm, with certainty, that I’ve never seen a Welsh Cake on this side of the pond. Since your recipe makes 16-20, I’m sure there’s a few extra you could send this way? :)

  3. buttery77

    A great recipe. I do like these cakes, though I like Cawl even more! Plus keeping our food heritage alive is very important.

    I have done quite a few Welsh dishes for neilcooksgrigson.blogspot.com, some have been more successful that others. Here’s a link to all the Welsh recipes on there so far (If you’re interested!). The est by far are the Welsh light Cakes.

  4. Flip's Foodie Files

    My mom’s from Wales and when we used to visit every summer we’d get these by the dozen and eat them with fresh jam and butter. They are delicious! You’re recipe looks perfect, can’t wait to make these and remember all those summers!

  5. theplaidplatypus

    Oh my these look good. Although I must admit being in the US I had to google Sultanas to find out what it was. I’m assuming golden raisins I can find here would work. Your posts keep adding to my list of things I need to bake!

  6. Aimee@clevermuffin

    Yay for keeping alive traditions! Though I must say having roasted till golden brown over an actual fire … Now that would be awesome. I wonder if I could do these over a camp fire….? I have a camping trip coming up… Hmmm

      1. Aimee@clevermuffin

        I looked in to this (and even showed my camping buddies a pic of these on my iphone when I saw them) and we were totally amped to do it…then we found out the national park we’re going to doesn’t let us have camp fires. Boooo. It was an awesome plan.

  7. promenadeplantings

    I haven’t had welsh cakes for years, so thanks for the memories. Although I did make bara brith this summer, my grandmother used to make it – happy days :) My OH half said, “what you put butter on a slice of cake?!”.
    Keep blogging!

  8. Tara

    oh my gosh. I am so excited. I LOVE WELSH CAKES. I’ve never made them for myself before, but my best friend makes them for me on christmas every year. I eat them before any christmas cookies. I should definitely try making them myself!

  9. The Dusty Baker

    Mmmmm, these look delicious! We have a version in Portugal called bolos levados, but they’re a bit trickier to prepare. I think I’m going to have to try this version and the Portuguese one together… gluten-free of course. I shall call them… Prelsh Cakes :) Thanks for the recipe buddy.

  10. baconbiscuit212

    Wow. A long time ago, I used to go back and forth between the US and Wales for an ex. I had a lot of these, but didn’t remember them until I saw your post. Definitely brings back good food memories.

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  12. Jen

    My husband is actually half Welsh; perhaps this explains his love of pancakes/griddle cakes? (He just requested some Sunday). I have never heard of Welsh cakes before (he grew up in the U.S. with the non-Welsh parent), but they look fantastic! I will have to try these the next time he requests some post-rugby pancakes.

  13. liadh1

    These look fantastic! I can’t wait to try them out! I love your “Keeping Alive a Tradition” series concept as well. I am eagerly awaiting the next addition!

  14. 2minicooks

    I’m originally from Swansea and it’s as if the streets round there are paved with welsh cakes. Every time you went into someone’s house you’d be offered them. Obviously EVERYONE’S grandmother makes the best welsh cakes in the world :D

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  18. For Bella and Will

    Knew you would have a Welsh Cake recipe!!!
    A neighbour asked on facebook this evening where she could buy some so I said I’d make her some! Haven’t made them for years, just thought I’d check your blog for a good recipe and here one is! :) Nice one! Thank you :)

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