Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cacennau Cri (Welsh Cakes)

My day job involves convincing others of the benefits of learning another language. I spend hours enthusing about the insight you can have into another culture when you speak its language and eat its food. Language and food, cooking and conversation are so integral to what makes us human. So, where am I going with this? Well, I have a confession to make. Having lived in Wales for 10 years not only have I failed miserably in my attempts to master the Welsh language I have never even made Welsh Cakes! Not very impressive for food-loving linguist. 

This week I have made one step closer to integration. Our neighbouring town, Mold, is holding its annual food festival and as part of the celebrations has invited home bakers to enter a Welsh cake bake off. That sounded like my kind of fun so I hit the kitchen for a few trial runs. I played with a couple of recipes. For the competition entry I tried to stay within the parameters of the traditional recipe but I was concerned as the cakes were going to be judged the day after I dropped them off. Welsh cakes are at their best straight off the griddle, still warm and slathered in butter or at the very least eaten on the day you make them. So I decided to increase the number of sultanas from the traditional recipe and to soak them in a little orange juice. 

With the competition recipe decided, I was in the flow of recipe tinkering and couldn't resist trying a bilberry version. I had cleared the Clwydian Range bushes of their last few bilberries this week so I threw a few in instead of the sultanas, with pleasing results.

I dropped my entry off at the festival yesterday afternoon. It is in the hands of the judges now. I'll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime I am off to find my Welsh grammar books.

After all that baking I was ready for a little liquid refreshment. How could I resist? I discovered at the festival that I am not the only one harvesting in the Clwydians. Bilberry Brew from the Mold-based Hafod Brewery.

Welsh Cakes

Makes 12 cakes

225g. self-raising flour
100g butter
60g. caster sugar
1 egg
150g. sultanas
1 orange

Put the sultanas into a bowl and add the zest and juice of the orange. Leave to soften for an hour or two or even overnight.

When you are ready to make the cakes. Weigh out the flour into another bowl and add the butter in cubes. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then rub the butter and flour together until they have a sandy texture. Add the sugar.

Drain the excess juice from the sultanas and add them to the mix and stir through. Next beat the egg and pour in, a little a time, bringing the mixture together with your hands or a wooden spoon until it forms a dough.

Put a heavy bottomed frying pan or a skillet on to warm on medium heat.

Dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough until it is about 1cm. in thickness. Cut out the cakes with a round cutter, I used a jam jar dipped in flour so the dough doesn't stick. 

Place the cakes in to cook in the frying pan. I cooked them in batches of 3. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until brown.

For the Bilberry Welsh Cakes

At the stage where you add the sultanas replace with 100g. bilberries (or blueberries, blackberries, raspberries...). 

Fruitless Welsh Cakes

Welsh cakes are equally good plain and sandwiched together with your favourite jam.

In any case I enjoy them in all guises still warm from the pan slathered in butter. A perfect lazy Sunday afternoon tea. I hope you enjoy. Mwynhewch eich bwyd! Vx

We enjoyed our bilberry Welsh cakes at the top of Moel Famau.


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