In England, it's all about scones. In Scotland- drop scones. In Ireland- I'm not entirely sure, but I'm sure it's something similar. In Wales, we eat Welsh Cakes.
Welsh cakes are kind of like a cross between a pancake and a fruit scone, but completely different and utterly delicious in their own special way. I love Welsh cakes- there is just something so unbelievably delicious about a disk of cakey-fruity-sconey goodness, particularly when they are still warm from the pan. And they are some of the easiest things in the world to make too- honestly, I'm pretty sure I made these in primary school (in England. Chances are this was when my Welsh dad was chairman of the PTA).
Being back in Wales for the foreseeable future, it wasn't going to be long before I made these again. I've never made Welsh Cakes as an adult, but I had an assistant in the kitchen, and it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss...
I adapted this recipe to suit what I had in the cupboard.
You will need:
225g self raising flour
A good shake of ground mixed spice
110g salted butter (preferably Welsh, of course)
85g soft brown sugar
A handful of mixed dried fruit
A splash of milk (if needed)
Extra butter for greasing
Sugar for dredging.
A bowl, and a large heavy based frying pan/ griddle pan/ bakestone.
Begin by mixing together your spices and flour. Then rub the butter into the flour, as you would when making pastry, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and a handful of dried fruit- currants are traditional, but I used a mixture of cranberries, golden raisins, and normal raisins because that's what I had in the cupboard. Whisk the egg in a small bowl or mug, then add to the mixture and use a knife to mix it all together before getting your hands it to try to form the mixture into something resembling a ball of dough. If it won't come together, then add a splash of milk and try again.
Turn your ball of dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and roll out. I couldn't find our rolling pin, so an empty wine bottle from the previous night had to suffice. Roll out to approximately 5mm thick, then use a tumbler/ glass/ cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Squish your offcuts back together and repeat until you've used all of your dough.
Rub a small amount of butter over the surface of a large, heavy based frying pan, and then turn the heat on to medium. Cook your Welsh cakes in batches in the pan- each should take about 2 minutes on each side, though do try not to let them burn. Traditionally, they are an appetising caramel-brown all over, but in practice, when you do this yourself at home, it isn't necessarily going to work like that.
Once all of your Welsh cakes are cooked, sprinkle over a little sugar (known as "dredging"). I can tell you from experience that demerara isn't the best sort of sugar for this, and you're probably best of sticking with the traditional caster sugar.
And there we have it! These are absolutely positively best eaten the day they are made, preferably still warm from the pan and with a large mug of tea. Otherwise, warmed slightly in the microwave and topped with butter and jam, like a scone, also works pretty damn well.
You can also mess around with the flavours a bit- chocolate chips and orange zest instead of the spices and dried fruit would be great, and I think adding finely chopped hazelnuts would be pretty tasty too.