Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Cakes from Wales...

Yesterday I finally had the chance to bake in our new, extended and refurbished kitchen (and our new range cookeer/oven with shiny chef top!). Although it is still not quite finished so I was working on cardboard worktops, and I had no weights for my scales - the multitude of lovely fluffy cakes I served up at the end made it all worth it!
Yes, that is my kitchen at the mo!

We have gone to the same cottage in the Pembrokeshire area of Wales for two years now - both times at Easter. We have great times there (I went for my first proper bicycle ride there - I didn't learn until I was 12) but how does that link to these cakes? Both times we have holidayed there we have arrived very late at night, exhausted and grumpy after the long 6-7 hour drive from London. We would arrive and in the kitchen spy a huge tin filled to the brim of freshly home-baked Welsh cakes. It was the best greeting! They were crumbly and light - perfect with a smear of butter. They cheer us up before we head off to bed and you can bet they won't last longer than 3 days within our family!

After we got back this year, relaxed and rested, I knew I wanted to recreate these little scones in our own kitchen. Unfortunately I never got round to it before the building work started but yesterday, with no builders around, me already bored in my summer holidays and desperate to get back to cooking after 3 months of no kitchen and ready meals :( - I searched for a recipe, went out for the ingredients and got mixing!
There were 3 in a row and the little one said..yum yum!
The Mary Berry recipe I used was very easy to follow and quick and simple to make up. I enjoyed making them because the steps were easy and all they needed was a bit of a stir together! For rolling them out we have lost our rolling pin so i just flattened the dough out with my hands but I am sure none of you have that problem! I had trouble making the dough an even thickness, though, so when cooking they were done at various times. The ones in the middle of the chef top cooked a lot quicker than the edges so I shall bear that in mind and try to squeeze a few more near the centre as they do not spread at all. These would be a good go-to recipe if someone comes to visit at short notice and you want to serve them something scrummy, as they look like they may be more complicated than they actually are!

I did make a few alterations which I think really helped them and if I make them again I might experiment more. A touch of orange juice or zest, variations on the fruit - perhaps cherries and sultanas, or dried cranberries, maybe some more spice or for a more decadent treat even some chopped chocolate!
Here's the recipe, with my alterations in pink!!

Welsh Cakes from Mary Berry's Complete Cook Book, by Mary Berry

Makes 12 (I forgot to count but I know the recipe made a lot more than 12, probably 20)

250g (8oz) self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
125g (4oz) butter
90g (3oz) caster sugar (when I put this amount in, it disappeared into the batter immediately so I put in another tbsp :P)
90g (3oz) currants(similar situation as with the sugar, I didnt weigh an amount just put in another 3-4 tbsp of currants until they were evenly distributed)
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice (I spilled a bit extra to make it up to 3/4 tsp but my tasters suggested it needed still more)
1 egg, beaten (so i forgot to beat didnt make the slightest difference!)
about 2tbsp milk (Mary suggests this as a maximum, but to combine the mixture I used 4tbsp! this is probably due to the extra currants and sugar)
sunflower oil, for greasing (forgot to use! not sure it was neccessary?)
7cm (3in) pastry cutter (as I could not find my cutters, I simply trimmed my dough into long rectangles and cut triangles)

1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Add the sugar, currants and mixed spice, and stir to mix. Add the egg and enough milk to form a soft but not sticky dough.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. Cut into rounds with a pastry cutter (or triangles with a sharp knife) .

4. Heat a griddle or a heavy frying pan and grease with a little oil. Cook the Welsh cakes on the hot griddle or pan over a low heat for about 3 minutes on each side until cooked through and golden brown. (really do make sure your cakes are on a LOW heat as our first batch cooked very quickly on the outside but were still a bit raw on the inside)

5. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve on the day of making, if possible.

Verdict? The Welsh Cakes were scrumptious, crumbly and light just like the proper Welsh ones. Plus - they have all disappeared now so something must be right! Also, the chef top made me and my Mum feel like professionals and the kitchen was a delight to work in! I will definitely make again. Come back tomorrow for chocolate chip cookies (as my sister requested!)


Marie said...

Hey Lucy, Nice to be able to put a face on you! I can tell you are going to be a great food blogger and those Welsh cakes look fabulous! Well done you!

Lucy said...

Thank you so much Marie!

The Blonde Duck said...

It looks delicious! That's amazing you're so talented at 13. I'll be stopping by often! Maybe you can inspire my sister to follow her true love of baking!

Antonia said...

I love Welsh cakes. I holiday in North Wales every summer and always look forward to Welsh cakes and bara brith. Never made my own welsh cakes though - delicious!

Lucy said...

the blonde duck - thankyou! and please do return and get your sister in the kitchen - once she's in she may find it hard to stop baking!

antonia - me too! I prefer them to ordinary scones...I havent tried bara brith so much though so it would be worth trying soon! Definitely try and make your own they are so simple and delish results come at the end!

Anonymous said... seem to have a precocious talent.
I was born in Pembrokeshire and still live there.(My grandmother made the best welsh cakes ever.) Please do me a big favour and DON't put chocolate chips or anything more exotic than mixed spice in your welsh cakes! That changes the very nature of a true Cacyn Planc. Good was interesting reading your blog.