Last week was a parade of little bitty bites of goodness. I made sconelettes, and then, days later, I tried my hand at Welsh Cakes. How did I not know about these before? They are so, so good.
I am working with my daughter’s 3rd grade class on a year long pen pal project with a similarly aged class in Wales (I located this class using epals–they are geared toward finding class exchanges, but there are some singular exchanges available as well). As part of this project we spent a little time talking about cultural heritage, and I wanted to bring in some Welsh food to help them grasp the idea of how culture translates into everyday experiences. Now, I’m not an expert on Wales, but I did a little online research and came upon these little goodies. A cross between a scone and a griddle pancake, Welsh Cakes, or Picau Ar Y Maen, are a treat not to missed. Maen means bakestone in Welsh, which describes the cooking method of these little goodies. I’m not exactly sure what a traditional bakestone looks like, but my large cast iron pan worked very well.
I made mine a bit petit as I needed to stretch the recipe to serve 20 3rd graders, but normally they would be made the same size as a pancake or scone. They are buttery and I made mine spiced gently with cinnamon and studded with raisins. They kids gobbled them up (some of them noting the hints of cinnamon) as we discussed their own heritage foods. Some of them want to bring in some food to share on the day they present their heritage projects and I can’t wait to discover some new tastes. I just love food. Don’t you?
I used this very thorough this squidoo posting to learn a little bit about Welsh Cakes, as well as using their posted recipe. I’m reposting it below converted to American measurements. If you’re interested, I also found this nice post on a Smithsonian blog about food and science–this post has a link to this recipe at the Washington Post.
Welsh Cakes (recipe adapted from http://www.squidoo.com/welsh-cakes)
Makes approx 20 Welsh Cakes
2 cups self-raising flour (or 2 cups all-purpose + 3 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (optional- and certainly if you use salted butter you don’t need any more salt!)
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (optional) (I used cinnamon)
1 stick butter, softened & cut into pieces (I actually used chilled butter)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dried fruit – currants, raisins or sultanas (or a mixture)
A little milk (I needed about 1/4-1/2 cup to get to a good moistness, but it will vary)
Oil or fat to grease the griddle or pan
Sugar for sprinkling over the Welsh Cakes after they are cooked (I didn’t do, they were sweet enough)
1) Sift flour into a large mixing bowl.
2) Rub in butter/margarine until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
3) Stir in the sugar, dried fruit, mixed spice and salt (if used).
4) In a separate bowl or jug, beat the egg lightly.
5) Stir the beaten egg into the flour mixture to form a soft dough. Gradually add milk a little at a time if the mixture is too dry.
6) Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture out on to a floured board to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (5mm).
7) Cut into rounds with a cutter of about 2.5 – 3 inches (6-7cm) diameter. (For the class, I used a 1.5 round cutter)
8) Grease griddle/frying pan/skillet and allow to heat up gently for a few minutes.
9) Using a fish slice or pallet knife, carefully place Welsh Cakes one at at time onto the hot cooking surface.
10) Cook the Welsh Cakes for about 3 minutes each side, or until they are golden brown. (Watch your heat and cakes…I burned a few)
11) Allow to cool and then sprinkle with sugar.
12) Serve hot or cold. Welsh Cakes can be eaten plain or split and spread with jam/butter/honey etc.