To be honest they are the stuff of legend...honeeest...they are the 'cakes' King Alfred burned, silly man!!!...actually I burned a couple myself so maybe he wasn't so silly!!! They are cakes in the same way a pancake is a cake, to me they taste like fried cookies (biscuits to the Brits reading)...they are sweet and cakey, simple and filling. I can eat them hot with or without butter and find them just as delicious cold when they really do have the sense of cookie about them.
The recipe I used is from an old copy of British Country Living and it has served me very well over the years...it's a great way to start your Thankies Day.
8oz unbleached white flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg ( I like just nutmeg, a highly underappreciated little spice, but traditionally one would do 1/2 tsp of mixed spice (?), is that allspice? and 1/2 teaspoon of mace)
4oz cold grated butter, makes it easier to blend into the flour (again in the recipe it asks for 2oz butter and 2oz of white fat but I don't have any lard and don't like hydrogenated fats...so I went for 4oz butter and they were just fine!)
3oz sugar...I use fine brown sugar because I like the flavour of brown but you can use white and King Alfred probably used white sugar...or did he...does anyone know what colour the sugar would have been then...maybe they didn't have white sugar in the 14Century...or whenever he lived, I am making an uneducated guess here!)
3oz dried currants
1 egg beaten...oops I left this out of the ingredients photo, with a tsp of vanilla extract stirred in
Approx. 1 tablespoon of milk.
1. Sift flour, salt and spices together in a bowl.
2. Rub the grated butter in until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the sugar and dried fruit.
4. Add the beaten egg with a fork.. and just enough of the milk to form a soft dough...it should be a bit sticky.
5. Roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness and cut into rounds, or simple shapes. I got too clever for my clogs and used a star cutter and what with the currants they don't keep their shape well, although I still think they look nicely rustic. You may if you so desire omit the currants as I know so may people out there have fear of dried fruit pertaining to nightmare fruit cakes!...I think the recipe should come out just as well and then you can be more fancy with your cutters!
6. Heat up your frying pan, preferably a cast iron one, or griddle if you have one to medium heat. Grease with a little butter...remember they have a lot of butter already in them, and try ONE Welsh Cake to get the feel of the pan and heat, just like you would do with a pancake....the first one of which you usually throw away until your get your hand and the pan 'in'...if you know what I mean.
7. Cook the Welsh Cakes in small batches...don't crowd the pan, you want to make it easy to turn them over, and cook a few minutes each side until nicely browned but still soft in the middle.
8. Get them out of the pan, cut in half horizontally and put a nice pat of butter in there if you so desire. Maple syrup would be a nice addition if you want to gild the lily and do actually make them for Thankies.
9. Repeat process multiple times because once you start eating these little treasures, chances are you won't be able to stop.
Off you pop and warm up that big lumbering cast iron frying pan!!! Autumn is just the right time for Welsh Cakes...with, of course, a spot of tea...they do go better with tea than coffee.