This post was supposed to appear on 1st March but I had a headache (will this cold ever go away!) so I hope you will be lenient.
Celebrations and food have gone together throughout all of history, with certain recipes associating themselves with different calendar events. Think Christmas Cake, Cinder Toffee and Hot Cross Buns (or my Not Cross Buns I made last year). Although you can make recipes all year round there is something extra special about making something for a special occasion, even if its just celebrating seasonal food as I always make my rhubarb spice cake when the first rhubarb comes into season. I lived in Wales for a long time and I remember every March 1st the local newspaper would give out Welsh Cakes and Daffodils. Indeed the day before i went out and bought a Marie Curie daffodil pin badge to wear.
I have never made Welsh Cakes before and I thought that this year would be a good time to try. After some discussion with the Gentleman of the House it was decided that the most authentic recipe would be one which used lard and I selected this recipe from the BBC Good Food website. I’ve not baked with lard before and its quite strange thinking you can smell sausages when you are making cake.
- 225g plain flour
- 85g caster sugar
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 50g butter , cut into small pieces
- 50g lard , cut into small pieces, plus extra for frying
- 50g currants
- 1 egg , beaten
- splash milk
- Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Mix in the currants. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry – it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through.
I used my magimix with the blade attachment to mix the first ingredients then switched to the plastic blade when adding the fruit so as not to mash it to a pulp. Adding the splash of milk meant that the mixture really came together and wasn’t crumbly. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter of the correct size but it turned out that the wine glasses were perfect (you just have to be very delicate)
Although Welsh Cakes aren’t one of my favourites, they were very nice and others really enjoyed them too. I am glad this is a challenge which I tried and I was very pleased to find how easy they are to make.
I find food is a wonderful way to learn more about the world around us, and when it comes to festival food, I love to read about the history of why these recipes came to be made and loved. One of my recipe books; Warm Bread and Honey Cake, gives you so much history for a dish and has inspired me to explore other cultural traditions. I think the next cultural baking adventure appearing on the calendar will be the Yom Tov Tik Passover cake.