I have just returned home from a family holiday in Wales, which has inspired me to bake a delicious tea-time treat that I tried for the first time while in Wales; Welsh Cakes (or Pice ar y maen). Full of dried fruit, mixed spice, and my own addition of lemon, these are an extremely tasty snack that I am really excited about and will be making again and again!
Welsh cakes are traditional sweet cakes that have been popular since the nineteenth century. Their popularity owes much to the fact that they make use of basic and ordinary store cupboard ingredients such as flour, sugar and butter. They could traditionally be found in children’s lunch boxes as well as the pockets of Welsh miners! Welsh cakes are quite like scones (especially in their ingredients), but are flat and cooked on a griddle, more like a pancake. Originally cooked on a bake-stone, cast iron griddles (or “maem” in Welsh) were later used and became the predominate method to cook them.
I tried Welsh cakes twice on my holiday, and they were quite different in size. The first (made by the extremely friendly lady who owned the cottage we were staying in) were only about 5cm wide whereas the others (from a tea shop) were quite a lot bigger (about 10cm wide). I assume that therefore there is no one correct size for Welsh cakes; they can be any size you want them to be!
They are reasonably quick and easy to make, and if you, like me, don’t have a griddle, you can just as easily cook them in a frying pan. My addition of lemon is not traditional (I apologise to any traditionalists out there!) but it’s a very subtle touch that adds such a fresh flavour.
Lemon Welsh Cakes
- 225g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 115g butter/margarine
- 80g sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 85g currants
- 1 egg
- splash of milk
- oil for the griddle/frying pan
- Finely grate the lemon
- In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and lemon zest
- Rub in the butter or margarine with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Stir in the currants
- Lightly beat the egg before adding to the mixture. Form a dough, adding some milk if it is too dry
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface to no more than 1cm thick. Cut out with a 6cm wide cutter
- Lightly heat some oil on the griddle and cook the cakes on a low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side
- Cool on a wire rack. They can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days, but are best eaten fresh!
These Welsh cakes can be eaten warm or cold, and served with butter, or a sprinkle of icing sugar. I, however, prefer eating them just as they are.
Thanks for reading!