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!

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96 comments on “Keeping Alive a Tradition #2: Welsh Cakes

  1. Emma MT
    October 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Sitting on a train platform I am wishing I was at home right now so I could make these. My mouth is watering at the thought of the melting butter! Mmmmmmmmm!

  2. Annie
    October 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Looks so yummy!

  3. Joanne
    October 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    These are so interesting, I’ve never had Welsh cakes before!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

      I’m very surprised. You should make them, I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

  4. Smedette
    October 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    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.

    • Smedette
      October 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      Ah, I’ve learned they are called “Thompson” grapes/raisins here in the States. Not sure if they’re exactly the same, but it seems to be pretty close.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

      They are a variant of the raisin, yes. They are amazing, please do try them.

  5. jacqueline
    October 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    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? :)

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Really?! Mad one. I’m afraid they are all gone, but you should try them. As you can see they are very simple indeed.

  6. buttery77
    October 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Thanks so much. I don’t really get the Welsh light cakes. They look lovely, but I don’t see what’s Welsh about them – I’ve certainly never heard of them.

      • buttery77
        October 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

        It just seems that the Welsh have the monopoly on pancakes and griddle! There’s so many of them…

        • frugalfeeding
          October 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

          Ahha, we do. I have a griddle leaning against the house outside.

  7. Colleen
    October 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve never even heard of these before, but they look delicious. I just might have to add this to my repertoire

  8. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    October 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Those look great and I haven’t heard of them before either.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:11 am

      I can’t believe so many people haven’t :D

  9. spree
    October 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    You’ve opened my eyes to another new thing. Love scones and would love to give these a try.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Yay! Do, they are really tasty – a great snack.

  10. Dalai Lina
    October 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    These look amazing! How the heck do you have all thins time to keep coming up with recipes?!? You are amazing…

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Haha, thanks! I just find the time. I probably shouldn’t spend so much time doing it actually.

  11. Flip's Foodie Files
    October 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

      They are delicious on their own too! Let me know how they go!

  12. Rhoda Kirwan
    October 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    These look great, they are like mini griddle breads. A traditional bread from Kerry in Ireland. I’m going to try these as I love scones. Thanks a mil for sharing.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

      That’s essentially what they are I suppose – I think some call them griddle cakes.

  13. Amanda (onceuponarecipe)
    October 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I’ve never had welsh cakes, but I could really use a couple of these to enjoy with my tea right now! Yum.

  14. ChgoJohn
    October 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I am so glad that you are writing these recipes as a series. I’ve no experience with Welsh cuisine but, thanks to you, I’m learning. Thanks!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:13 am

      Bara Brith may be next! A traditional Welsh tea cake. Welsh cuisine is surprisingly versatile!

  15. Thebigfatnoodle
    October 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Never heard or tried these before, and my mother-in-law’s welsh! Thanks for sharing, I’m calling her now to ask her about them but I love the idea of these.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Don’t know what she’s playing at quite frankly… Give them a go, they are lovely.

  16. Arturo Féliz-Camilo
    October 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    You’re going to make me buy a flight!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Good luck getting a plane to anywhere near where I live :D

  17. theplaidplatypus
    October 19, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm

      Thanks so much! any dried fruit at all would work – sultanas are just what are traditionally used.

  18. Bam's Kitchen
    October 20, 2011 at 2:10 am

    These little welsh cakes sound wonderful and great addition to an afternoon tea.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Indeed they are! Which is strange considering they would have essentially been a pauper dish.

  19. Ashley@bakerbynature
    October 20, 2011 at 2:17 am

    A new cake idea to me, but with such a simple recipe list, i’m looking forward to trying this one out.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

      They are lovely – please try them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  20. Aimee@clevermuffin
    October 20, 2011 at 5:04 am

    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

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Yay indeed! That would be totally awesome! They would definitely work over a campfire – I assume this campfire would be hot? :D

      • Aimee@clevermuffin
        October 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm

        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.

  21. promenadeplantings
    October 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:17 am

      No problem :D. Bara Brith is my next “challenge” I think. Bara Brith is incredibly delicious – one of my favourites.

      • promenadeplantings
        October 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

        excellent I’ll look forward to it . Do you soak the fruit in tea? Actually thinking about that I’ll just have to wait and read!

        • frugalfeeding
          October 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

          No, there’s no need! I’ve never heard of anyone doing that with Welshcakes.

  22. Tara
    October 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:17 am

      You should make some – they are so simple!

  23. The Dusty Baker
    October 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Thanks, Dusty! Haha, nice werge! Hope they turn out well :D

  24. Tiffany Neptune
    October 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Ooh yum. I love scones and will have to try these! By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      No problem at all! I adore getting comments myself. You really do have to try them – they won’t disappoint.

  25. Inge
    October 21, 2011 at 2:15 am

    It’s worth a try! I am definitely gonna make it! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      Haha! It is indeed. No problem. There’s certainly no need to thank me – yours turned out well :D

  26. baconbiscuit212
    October 21, 2011 at 4:50 am

    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.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Oh that’s cool, where abouts in Wales? They are so yummy.

  27. Brittany
    October 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    These look yummy I’m going to try and make a dairy/egg free version and see what I come up with:)

    • frugalfeeding
      October 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      The very best of luck! Hope they work well.

  28. forque
    October 22, 2011 at 8:30 am

    These look so yummy, I must give them a try!!

  29. Kimby
    October 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I like your cooking heritage series! It’s fascinating to read about each dish’s history and to know you’re keeping the traditions alive. Very well done!

  30. Michelle
    October 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    These look great!

  31. Inge
    October 23, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Hi there! I’ve tried to make this recipe and here my result:

    http://godslover.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/my-first-welsh-cake/

    I’ve shared it to my Indonesian friend as well :)

  32. Jen
    October 25, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    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.

  33. mccblogger
    October 26, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Holy Cannoli these look good. I went to uni in Scotland and let me tell you I miss all that good, mostly simple, comfort food.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

      I don’t know what cannoli is, but I think it must be positive.

  34. gwynnem
    October 30, 2011 at 6:17 am

    I’ve never eaten these kinds of cakes. Excited to give them a whirl soon. Also…beautiful photos!

  35. An Unrefined Vegan
    October 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Never heard of Welsh cakes! Thanks for the education. I’ve made English muffins a few times – method sounds similar? – anyway, these look very tasty.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks! Don’t know what an English muffin is… hmm.

  36. alisonamazed
    November 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    You’re inspiring me! Thank you!

  37. liadh1
    November 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    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!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks, so much. I really enjoy doing it. I have the next couple of recipes in mind.

  38. 2minicooks
    November 11, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    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

    • frugalfeeding
      November 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Yes, welshcakes and vomit :D. It’s true the are the best hidden secret Wales has to offer.

  39. Sarah @ The Fit Cookie
    November 13, 2011 at 4:46 am

    These look so good! My family always made these around the holidays (we call them Raisin Griddle Cookies). They were a traditional family recipe passed down from my Grandma. It is nice to see them featured on your site!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks! They are so yummy, I simply had to feature them.

  40. Carolyn Chan
    November 22, 2011 at 4:36 am

    I’m going to make these for my Welsh friends who live with me here in Singapore. Will be a nice little bit of home for them :)

  41. For Bella and Will
    February 27, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    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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