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.
• 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)
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!