Saturday, June 13, 2009

:: Recipe : Welsh Cakes ::

Here is a delicious and nostalgic recipe for traditional Welsh cakes. This is a family recipe and a very familiar part of my childhood.

Ingredients (for ~30 Welsh cakes)

:: 3 cups all-purpose flour*
:: 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
:: 1/2 tsp baking soda
:: a pinch of salt
:: 1 tsp nutmeg
:: 3/4 cups butter, cold
:: 3/4 cups sugar
:: 1 cup raisins
:: 2 eggs
:: 6 tbsp milk

:: Pre-heat an electric frying pan to 350 degrees. That's a bit cooler than you would cook pancakes at.
:: Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. I like to put in a slightly more nutmeg; so does my Mum.
:: Then cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two butter knives held in between the fingers of your fist. Keep scraping the butter off the cutting instrument, and cut the butter in until it looks like coarse crumbs. I just use regular butter, not unsalted or anything. Margarine works all right, too.
:: Stir in the sugar and the raisins. I like to use Thompson raisins in this recipe as opposed to Sultanas because they're juicer. If you can't find any juicy raisins then you can soak some crusty ones in boiling water and a bit of juice until they puff up, and then drain them and pat them dry before you use them in this recipe.
:: In a smaller bowl, beat the two eggs together well and add the milk. I'll be honest here and admit that I didn't have any milk when I made these, so I used 4 tbsp creamo and 2 tbsp milk. It worked out just fine.
:: Stir the wet mixture into the dry, finishing the mixing with your hands.
:: Divide the dough into three or four part,s depending on the working surface you have available to roll it out onto.
:: Roll one portion out onto a floured board or countertop until it's about 1/2 inch thick, or just over a centimeter.
:: Cut the dough into circles with a drinking glass or a biscuit cutter. My glass was 3 inches across, or 7 1/2 cm.
:: Transfer the cakes to the frying pan. I can fit 9 in my pan at once. You don't need to add any fat; there's plenty of butter in the cakes already so they won't stick.
:: They will puff up a bit as they cook. Keep checking underneath until they get nice and golden brown. They need to be darker than cookies to give them flavour and to make sure they're cooked all the way through at the end.
:: When one side is cooked, flip it over and cook the other. They take a few minutes per side, say 6 or 7 minutes.

You can see how the dough in the pan is puffed up a bit, and also how brown they need to be. Sorry for the yellow-y photo; I do these things late at night.

:: When the cakes are cooked place them immediately on a wire rack, and finish with the rest of the dough. There is plenty of time to cut more of the dough while some of the cakes are cooking.

Once they've cooled, store the Welsh cakes in an airtight container or cookie jar. We like to eat these for breakfast and as a snack. They're excellent with tea. But I suppose you could dress them up a bit with whipped cream or jam. I think they're best served out of wax paper in your bagged lunch.

*I did try substituting a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for white, but I didn't like the results. The flavour was good, but the dough was too heavy and didn't roll out as nicely. As a result, I ended up with less cakes and they're too heavy. I bought enriched flour today that is supposed to have the nutritional value of whole wheat by the addition of ground wheat germ, so I'll see how that goes on the next batch.

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