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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Bara Brith February 27, 2013

Bara Brith 1

 

This is translated as ”speckled bread”. Apparently once a week the stove was lit for baking day, as the heat began to fade in the stove, so a handful of currants was added to the last of the bread dough and this speckled bread became a treat. The flavour, however, of this spiced, honey-glazed fruit bread is delicious when spread with some Welsh butter, so it’s no wonder that Bara Brith is still produced all over Wales.

 

Happy St David’s Day to all my Welsh Family and Friends on 1st March!

 

Ingredients

 

450g (1lb) mixed dried fruit
300ml (1/2 pint) tea
2 tbsp marmalade
1 egg, beaten
6 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
450g (1lb) self-raising flour
honey to glaze

 

Method

 

Soak the fruit overnight in the tea.

Next day, mix the marmalade, egg, sugar, spice and flour into the fruit. Spoon into a lined loaf tin and bake in a warm oven 170C/gas 3 for 1 hour or until the centre is cooked through. Check from time to time that the top doesn’t brown too much, and cover with a sheet of foil or move down a shelf in the oven if necessary.

Once cooked, leave the Bara Brith to stand for 5 minutes, then tip out of the tin on to a cooling tray. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top with honey.

Serve sliced with butter and some tasty farmhouse Cheddar. Store in an airtight tin.

 

Spiced Honey Cake January 14, 2013

Spiced Honey Cake 3

With its warming flavour, this cake is delicious with or without the icing.

 

Ingredients

 

225g plain flour

1 level tsp baking powder

1 level tsp mixed spice

1 level tsp ground ginger

1 level tsp cinnamon

75g caster sugar

175g Orange Blossom Honey

75ml good olive oil

2 large eggs

finely grated zest of 1 orange

1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda

100ml orange juice, plus 1 Tbsp for the icing

50g icing sugar, sieved

 

Method

 

Line a 21cm square baking tin with parchment paper. Pre heat oven to 180C/gas 4.

Sift the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar.

In another bowl, beat the honey, oil, eggs and zest. Stir into the flour mixture.

Stir the bicorbonate of soda into the orange juice – it will start to fizz up. Immediately stir it into the cake mixture until evenly mixed. Pour into the prepared tin – its a very runny mixture but will firm up when cooked.

Bake for 55 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool on a wire rack.

Mix the icing sugar with the extra orange juice, then drizzle on top of the cake.

Make yourself a cuppa and enjoy.:-)

 

Man Cake July 29, 2012

Man cake, so called as it’s full of fruit and spices but if your like me, you’ll enjoy it too 😉
Serves 10

 

Ingredients

 

450g/1 lb plain flour

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

175g/6oz butter or margarine

225g/8oz light brown sugar

225g/8oz dried mixed fruit

1 large egg

300ml/1/2 pint milk

150g/5oz dark brown sugar

 

Method

 

Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Line a deep 20cm/8in cake tin.

Sift the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and rub in the butter, aiming for a fine breadcrumb like texture. Stir in the sugar and mixed fruit. Mix in the egg and milk and stir until you have a soft dropping consistency.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and even out the top. Scatter the dark brown sugar over the top of the cake, if your sugar has gone a bit hard and lumpy all the better.

Bake for about 1 hour 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean – check after 1 hour though, you might decide you need to cover it with baking parchment to stop the top burning. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before putting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cold, make yourself a cup of coffee to have with a chunk of that cake 🙂

 

 

 

Crazy Caterpillar Birthday Cake June 20, 2012

This is a no-bake cake made from cake crumbs, home-made or bought. You can double the quantity for an extra large party, but remember the cake is rich and heavy in texture so you’ll only need to serve a small amount. One ball per person is more than enough!

 

First off you need to make a Truffle cake…it’s easy, unless your buying a ready made cake to use

 

Ingredients

175g/6oz plain sponge cake pieces

175g/6oz/2 cups ground almonds

75g/3oz/scant 1/3 cup dark brown sugar

5ml/1 tsp ground mixed spice

pinch of ground cinnamon

grated rind of 1 orange

45ml/3 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

75ml/5 Tbsp clear honey

 

Method

Place the sponge cake pieces into the bowl of a food processor or blender (if your food processor isn’t working :-() and process for a few seconds to form fine crumbs.

Place the cake crumbs, ground almonds, sugar, spices, orange rind, orange juice and honey in a large bowl and stir well to combine into a thick, smooth mixture.

 

Now onto the Caterpillar Cake

 

Ingredients

1 quantity Truffle Cake mix

675g/1 1/2 lb white ready to roll icing or coloured ready to roll icing if you can find it

red, blue and yellow food colouring

small flower cutter

large flower cutter

 

Method

 

Using slightly damp hands, roll the truffle cake mixture into balls, slightly larger than the size of a walnut. Place them on a baking sheet as you make them, then cover with cling film and set to one side.

Divide the icing into three equal portions, then colour one portion red, one blue and one yellow. Remove a small amount of blue and yellow icing, to make the face features, and set aside, covered with cling film.

Roll each colour of icing into a sausage shape about 45cm/18ins long on a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Make sure the sausage shape is even all the way along; if it breaks, compress the icing into a ball and start again.

Place the three long sausages side-by-side on the work surface. Starting at one end, hold them together firmly and start to turn them in a twisting motion – do not squeeze. Place the twist back on the work surface, then use a rolling pin to push and roll the twist gently until it’s flat and the colours have merged. It should now be 50cm/20ins long.

Lay the truffle balls along the length of the of the icing strip, then wrap the icing evenly around the balls, sealing the join by pinching the icing together. (An extra pair of hands would be really useful for the next stage) Turn the Caterpillar over so that the join is underneath, tucking in and cutting off any excess icing from the ends. Lift the Caterpillar onto your board or plate and position, curving it slightly.

Roll out the reserved blue and yellow icing thinly and use the flower cutters to make the eyes. Use a little water to stick the smaller one onto the larger one then a little water to stick the eyes into place. Roll a tiny bit of the icing into a small sausage shape and using a little water place on as the mouth

 

 

 

Simnel Cake April 1, 2012

Originally made and given to Mothers on Mothering Sunday.

It was not eaten on Mothering Sunday because of the rules of Lent, instead it was saved until Easter.

The word simnel probably derived from the latin word ‘simila’, meaning fine, wheaten flour from which the cakes were made.

The Simnel cake is a fruit cake. A flat layer of marzipan is placed on top and decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 12 apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Christ.

Simnel cake is still made in many parts of Britain today, although it is now more commonly made for and eaten at Easter.

Ingredients

175g/60z butter

175g/6oz soft brown sugar

3 large eggs

175g/6oz plain flour

Pinch of salt

1 tsp mixed spice

350g/12oz dried mixed fruit

55g/2oz chopped mixed peel

1/2 lemon. grated zest only

1 – 2 Tbsp apricot jam

1 egg, beaten for glazing

500g/1lb marzipan

Method

Roll out a third of the almond paste to make a circle 18cm/7in in diameter and reserve the remainder for the cake topping.

Preheat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Grease and line a 18cm/7in cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well incorporated and then sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice  a little at a time. Finally, add the mixed dried fruit, peel and grated lemon zest and stir into the mixture.

Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¾ hours. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle – if it comes out clean, it is ready. Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half; roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.

Place the circle of paste on the jam glaze and set the balls round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.

Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown. Alternatively, lightly heat the cake topping using a cook’s blow torch, until the marzipan is golden-brown.

 

Marmalade Cake Bars March 24, 2012

Make sure you measure the marmalade carefully – too much will make the cake stodgy.

 

Ingredients

 

250g self raising flour

2 level tsp baking powder

1 level tsp mixed spice

150g sultanas

150g dried apricots, cut into small pieces

175g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

Zest of 1 orange

3 large eggs

75g thick cut marmalade, plus 3 Tbsp for glazing

 

Method

 

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Line a 33 by 23cm shallow tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl.

Stir in the sultanas and apricots.

Add the butter, sugar, orange zest, eggs and 75g marmalade. Beat together until evenly mixed.

Put the mixture into the tin and level the top.

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the middle of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Heat 3 Tbsp of marmalade carefully in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time is a good way to go.

Brush melted marmalade on top of the hot cake.

Cool on a wire rack.

 

 
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