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Welsh Cakes

I’m late for St David’s Day, but am posting these because I love them and they deserve a place on the blog.

A combination of moving countries and getting older makes you fascinated with family history, and your own murky origins. My father has always joked about our Celtic strain, and says that’s why we all love singing (he does – a lifetime of standing beside him in a pew determinedly doing the descant in all of my favourite Christmas carols) and that my great grandmother (his granny) was a Welsh opera singer. My father’s mother was Myfanwy, and part Welsh part Cornish; an interesting and damp mix, but one steeped in a culture of rustic, good, simple food.

One of the things I remember Granny making was what she called Cakey Bakeys, little spiced, raisin-studded biscuits/scones which took their inspiration from Welsh Cakes but were her own recipe. The recipe for Cakey Bakeys has been lost in the mists of time, but my memory of them remains sharp. They were just a little dry, but in a pleasant way, requiring washing down with a strong cup of tea, crumbly and chewy with raisins. I am more than happy to make a classic Welsh Cake in their stead, which offer most of the same delicious elements.

N.B I use a combination of butter and lard because a) I love the friability that lard gives things, and the flavour too, and also I have lots of strutto (Italian lard) leftover from Carnival.

Makes 10-12

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

A good pinch of salt

A good pinch of mixed spice (I used a combination of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg as can’t buy mixed spice here)

40g unsalted butter

40g lard

70g sugar

1 egg

A handful of raisins/sultanas/currants

Add the flour, salt, spice, sugar and baking powder to a bowl and rub in the fats with your finegrs until you have a mixture which resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Now add the egg and mix well, using your hands to bring together. Knead in the dried fruit and then wrap and rest for about 20 minutes.

Roll out on a floured surface to about a cm thickness and then cut with a glass/a cutter.

Heat a heavy based frying/griddle pan over a medium heat and cook your cakes straight onto it, a couple at a time, turning over after a few minutes. Serve warm with lots of butter and strong tea.

You can warm them the next day quickly in a toaster if you have restraint unlike me and don’t eat them all at once.


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