Carol Hill here…the only one of the four women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency who likes to (or can!) bake. With the cooler weather coming along I decided it would be a good time of year to bake a good supply of Welsh cakes – to share with my colleagues. If you’re not familiar with Welsh cakes, all I can say is you’re missing out on a traditional treat. I’ve given you the recipe below, if you fancy giving them a go. I’m going to pack some up in a nice tin and deliver them to Mavis and Althea over at the Dower House this afternoon. Maybe they’ll have some with their afternoon cuppa.
1 lb all-purpose flour
7 ozs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
6 ozs currants
7 ounces chilled, cubed butter (I prefer slightly salted)
1 medium egg
Milk (as necessary)
Flour for rolling out
(Makes about 40 cakes, using 2 inch-diameter cutter)
Bakestone (this is a large, flat disk made of cast iron – you’ll find most Welsh households have one. It’s placed directly on the heat. When I migrated to Canada I carried mine in my suitcase – it takes a lot to separate a Welshwoman from her bakestone!)
Alternatively – cast iron griddle or cast iron pan
Cutting ring – your choice of diameter – I used 2 inches, fluted edge is traditional
Metal spatula/slice for flipping while cooking
1) Bring bakestone/griddle to high heat, then turn down to low – heat needs to be constant when you’re cooking
2) Mix flour, salt, sugar and currents together
3) Rub butter into the mixture until you achieve a breadcrumb-like consistency
4) Make a well, crack in your egg
5) With a fork, whisk the mixture into the egg, adding milk as you go to produce a dry-ish mix that just hold and squashes together
6) Place in a mound on a floured surface, roll out to about one quarter of an inch thick
7) Cut rounds and place them on a large, cold plate 8) Put one cake on your griddle to test temperature – the heat needs to brown the cake without burning it. You flip it over just once, then cook until it’s no longer squishy – meaning the center has cooked. This test allows you to work out temperature and timing. Usually the first one doesn’t work out too well, which is why you try just one, rather than loading the griddle.
9) Load the bakestone/griddle and turn cakes just once.
10) Allow to cool.
11) To be served cold, without butter, jam, or anything at all – they are perfect just as they are!
Either store in an airtight container for a week, or freeze (for up to three months) and allow to thaw naturally.
Cathy Ace is the Bony Blithe Award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. You can find out more about Cathy, her work and her characters at her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter with news, updates and special offers: http://cathyace.com/