Granny's Kitchen

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Welsh Cakes February 28, 2013

Welsh Cakes 1

First some History:

Welsh Cakes originate from Wales, a country of the United Kingdom that was a former principality of England in Great Britain. The cakes are a cross between a cookie, a scone, and a pancake but they are truly unlike any of these things when it comes to taste and texture. They are the size of chubby cookie, made from ingredients similar to a scone, but they are cooked like a pancake on a griddle, they are not baked. Sweet but not overly so, Welsh Cakes are an example of a unique and traditional food that reflects the resourceful, wholesome, and practical nature of the Welsh people.  Made from simple pantry items like flour, sugar, milk and butter, Welsh Cakes are considered a special treat since they take a good deal of time and effort to make. Being griddled, they pretty much must be made by hand and this is why there are very few commerical makers of these cakes in the world. Traditionally they were cooked over a hot bake-stone but iron griddles were later used and are now the predominant method used to cook them. They have gone by a few different names since their inception including their Welsh language names “cage bach” or “picau ar y maen” but also they are known as “Griddle Cakes”, “Welsh Tea Cakes” and “Welsh Miner Cakes”.

 

Being an ancient Celtic country, Wales is historically known for agriculture and mining. It was once the largest coal producing nation on earth. Welsh Cakes were traditionally made by the lady of the household as a treat to serve at afternoon tea, and were also given to children with their school lunches. Since they are durable, filling and delicious, Welsh Cakes also became a favored treat of the coal miner husbands of many a Welsh housewife. Indeed they are the perfect size to be slipped into a coat pocket, these sweet reminders of home were often the only bright spots in a miners otherwise dark and dreary day spent toiling “down the mine”. Over time as world societies modernized, the need and patience for making foods by hand became scarce. Welsh hats and coal shovels were traded in long ago for business suits and computer keyboards. Such traditions as Welsh Cakes have almost all but faded away these days but thanks to the Welsh Baker, hand-made Welsh Cakes are apparently being introduced to America now.

 

Ingredients

 

225g plain flour

85g caster sugar

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g butter, cut into pieces

50g lard cut into pieces, plus extra for frying

50g currants

1 egg, beaten

2-3 Tbsp milk

 

Method

 

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. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar. Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.

If they’re not eaten, they will keep up to a week in an airtight container.

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Classic Christmas Cake November 30, 2012

Classic Christmas

This is a nice easy cake to make if you don’t have the time to be cutting out, shaping & making fondant items to decorate it with.

Just pop to the shop and buy some plastic ones, along with a cake frill to wrap around and a Christmas themed cake board  😉

This is an 8”/21cm cake.

 

Ingredients

 

1 lb (450g) currants

6 oz (175g) sultanas

2 oz (50g) glace cherries

2 oz (50g) candied peel

8 oz (225g)plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice

8 oz (225g) unsalted butter

8 oz (225g) soft brown sugar

4 large eggs

zest of 1 lemon

zest of 1 orange

You will also need an 8 inch (21cm) round cake tin

500g marzipan

500g ready to roll fondant

6Tbsp apricot jam

 

Method

 

You need to start this cake the night before you want to cook it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the hot tea. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave the fruit to absorb the tea for up to 12 hours.

Next day pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients. The treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water. Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl. Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it’s light, pale and fluffy. Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won’t curdle. If it does, don’t worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can’t fail to taste  good!

When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in). Now fold in the fruit, peel and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests. Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon.  Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of baking parchment with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking).

Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don’t look till at least 4 hours have passed. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it’s cold ‘feed’ it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in foil secured with an elastic band and store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice it.

This particular cake has no alcohol in it. You don’t have to add alcohol if you don’t want it.

To decorate, melt 3 Tbsp of jam in the microwave and brush all over the cake. Roll out the marzipan to fit over and around the cake and place onto the cake, smoothing down with your hand.

You now need to leave it to dry, for about least 2 days.

Again, melt 3 Tbsp of the jam. Roll out the fondant, as you did the marzipan. Place the fondant onto the marzipaned cake.

Attach your plastic decorations and cake frill.

 

 

 
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