British food often gets a bad rap, and in my opinion it is an entirely undeserved reputation. My gran has lots of old recipe books from the Milk Marketing Board celebrating the great range and variety of local produce from different regions of the country, complete with some rather unappetizing 70’s era food photography!
I went to university in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and was very gladly introduced to the local speciality, welshcakes. They are essentially a flat scone, studded with sultanas before being cooked on a hot griddle and liberally sprinkled with sugar. They can be eaten hot or cold, on their own or split and filled with jam, even with lemon curd (although I’m not sure what the traditional Welsh purists will have to say about that!) It goes without saying that the best place to get them is at the Cardiff Bakestone in the indoor market, where stacks of cakes are constantly being churned out from an enormous hot griddle bigger than the average table, then sold at a charming 30p a pop.
Like many British baking recipes, these are a fantastic teatime treat or mid-morning pick-me-up. They may not be as dainty as a French macaron or madeleine, but they’re a lot less faffy and can survive a surprising amount of time in a rucksack, which puts them in pretty good standing in my eyes!!
This recipe is adapted from the Be-Ro Home-baked recipe leaflet, which is essentially a bible to all things sweet, pastry and deliciously bad for you. For any international readers, Be-Ro is a flour company that has offered recipe booklets in exchange for coupons since 1923. To say it is successful is a bit of an understatement, as I own the 41st edition!
- 225g/8oz self-raising flour
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 110g/40z butter or margarine
- 50g/2oz caster sugar (plus about 2 tbsp extra for sprinkling)
- 50g/20z currants or sultanas
- 1 medium egg
- 2 tbsp milk
- Rub the butter into the flour and allspice. If you have a food processor, using it will safe you a lot of time and prevent thumb cramp!
- Stir in the sugar and currants
- In a separate jug, beat together the egg and milk until smooth
- Pour the wet into the dry ingedients. Using a round-bladed knife, bring the mixture together into a stiff dough
- Preheat a griddle or heavy, flat-bottomed frying pan on a medium heat
- Roll the mixture out to around 5mm thick, then stamp out rounds about 7cm wide using a fluted cutter (If you are a student, experience tells me that a wine bottle and Nutella jar are perfectly good substitutes for a rolling pin and cutter!
- Cook the cakes in batches on the griddle, allowing 2-3 minutes for each side to get golden brown. A brilliant tip for gauging when they are ready to flip is to use your ears. As the buttery dough is put on the griddle, the fat starts to sizzle. As soon as the pan goes quiet, it means that a golden crust has formed and it’s time for flipping (interestingly, for all the food nerds out there, this is exactly the process that gives singing hinnies, a similar cake from Northumberland, their name)
- Once the welshcakes are done, remove them onto a large plate and sprinkle with the spare caster sugar
- Make a cup of tea and tuck in