Monday, September 19, 2016
recipe: Welsh Cakes
okay so, if I were ever to write a foodie memoir (which, I assure you, I dream about much more often than you would think...) this would have to be at the very top of the list for recipes to share. this is what I call a serious family recipe... the kind that goes back generations and comes with measurements a mix of English, Metric and just complete nonsense. The kind you have to make first with your mother before you have any idea what you're doing because the written instructions are basically nonexistent.
In other words: this is exactly my kind of recipe.
The past two summers I've been lucky enough to get to make these with my mom. The photo above is from last summer in Canada, when we spent a whole morning making what felt like hundreds to freeze. I had them at my wedding & baby shower, my mom had them at her wedding, and my brother will have them at his wedding this winter. They'll most likely be featured at Caleb's first birthday party. They have been given to many a family member whose needed a bit of cheering up (often in heart shaped form) and having a bag in the freezer got me through many of those first nights of waking up at all hours to nurse Caleb.
This recipe comes from my great-grandfather's mother, Queenie. My great-grandfather grew up in Wales but never lived their during his adult life and his daughter (my grandma) is the one who made sure this recipe stayed in the family. When Caleb is old enough to try them, that will be 6 generations!
I've done my best to write down exactly what you need to do to make these yourself. They're not very difficult, but it may take a try or two to figure out the exact timing of frying them in the pan. Once you get the hang of it though, I'm sure you'll be hooked!
you will need: 4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups currants
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp lard
roughly 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 cups currants
(optional: 1 tsp vanilla)
note: these amounts make a modest amount of Welsh Cakes (about 40 circles, when using a regular sized drinking glass). But they freeze wonderfully, so you could always double (or triple) up on everything.
now here's what you need to do:
crack one egg into a one cup measurer and add the vanilla if you'd like to. Then fill the measurer to the brim with half milk and half water (see what I mean...?)
mix dry ingredients. cut butter/ lard into pieces and crumble in with fingers. stir in currants. beat egg/milk mixture together and add. the dough will be very dry and crumbly- don't worry, that's what it's supposed to be like.
chill in fridge for several hours (or overnight if you'd like)
roll out onto the counter and use a drinking glass to cut out cakes in desired size. you could, of course, cut these into whatever shape you like, using cookie cutters.
warm up a dry frying pan, on medium-low heat. you do NOT need any oil or grease to fry these cakes. then just add your Welsh cakes to the pan and cook for approx. 8 mins on the first side. You'll know they're ready to flip when little bubbles begin to appear. They'll need another 3-4 mins on the second side, until they're just starting to brown.
keep a rack beside the stove to pile your cakes up as you take them out of the pan. my grandma always said to cover them with a clean tea towel so they won't dry out.
these cakes are the perfect afternoon snack with a cup of tea, and are excellent served alongside other cakes since they aren't so sweet. Sometimes we eat them with jam and butter but it's not necessary. And as mentioned, they make the perfect middle of the night nursing snack. Enjoy!