Welsh Cakes History: A Sweet and Tasty Bite of Wales

Image of Welsh cakes. Main image for Welsh cakes history blog

Have you ever had a Welsh cake before? If not, you’ll soon see you’ve been missing out. This traditional treat of Wales, often called bakestones, has been beloved since the late 19th century when sugar, fat, and other sweet ingredients were added to this griddle-cooked cake.

Served both hot and cold, these cakes are a bit like a scone, pancake, and cookie rolled into one, all the while being incredibly unique in both taste and texture. They feature similar ingredients of scones while being cooked in the same manner as a pancake on a griddle.

Welsh cakes are regarded as treat reserved for special occasions, for they take time to craft. Made by hand, there aren’t very many commercial bakeries that produce them.

Hungry for more? Keep reading to discover more about Welsh cakes!

Welsh Cakes History

Once upon a time, Wales was known as the largest producer of coal. The men would go off to the coal mines while the lady of the household would prepare Welsh cakes. These would be served with afternoon tea. Children were also given these delightful griddle-cooked cakes to take along with their lunches for school.

Because Welsh cakes are rather durable and easy to tote, they became quite favoured among the coal miners. They could easily be stashed in a coat pocket, perfect for bringing cheer to a dismal day in the mines.

Soon though, life would change for the people of Wales. The world began to modernize, even in this quaint and charming Celtic country. Mining faded out and big business boomed in. Suddenly, the time and devotion to crafting special treats like the Welsh cake faded away. But not completely.

Welsh cakes remain as the treasures of Wales. Light, slightly spiced and sweet and truly delightful, once you taste one, you’ll feel sorry you’ve missed out for so long.

Welsh cakes griddle

To make Welsh cakes, you simply need a griddle. Just like the one you’d use for making your pancakes on a Sunday morning, that same griddle can be used to make Welsh cakes.  We stock a Welsh traditional iron griddle here at Welsh gifts with heart.

Depending on the recipe, you may find you should cook them with a greased-up griddle, or no grease at all. Just like many traditional recipes, there are endless recipes for Welsh cakes. No griddle? Try a non-stick skillet. The key is keeping it over low-medium heat. You can also use an electric frying pan, griddle, or skillet. If going for the electric option, set the temperature to 325°F for optimum success with your homemade Welsh cakes.

Welsh Cakes Ingredients

So, what goes into Welsh cakes? Welsh cakes ingredients are relatively simple. Most likely, you have them in your pantry right now. The main ingredients you’ll find in every Welsh cake recipe are flour, baking powder, eggs, butter, and caster sugar. Some keep it relatively plain, though still no less delicious.

Others though incorporate currants, sultanas, and other tasty morsels. Many call for the use of some spices, including mixed spice. If you’re in the UK, it’s easy to find in the spice selections. If not, you can make your own with a pinch each of the following ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice. Some recipes don’t even incorporate it or use only a few of these spices. And others stick with tradition and use mace.

Every family has their own unique recipe for traditional dishes, and Welsh cakes are no exception to that rule! Keep reading to discover how to make your own Welsh cakes!

Welsh cakes recipe image

Welsh Cakes Recipe

If you can’t take a trip to Wales any time soon, the next best thing is to make your own Welsh cakes. If you can cook pancakes, you can make them with ease.

Ingredients:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/3 cup caster sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
– 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 4 tablespoons well-chilled lard
– 2 ounces butter, chilled and cubed
– 1 large egg, lightly beaten
– 1/2 cup dried currants
– 2-3 tablespoons milk
– Granulated sugar for garnish on finished cakes

Important Recipe Notes:
There are a few things in this recipe you really must know. For starters, don’t substitute the caster sugar. If you can’t find it, take some granulated sugar and pulse it in your food processor until it has an ultra-fine texture. No, it’s not acceptable to use powdered sugar here.

Another thing is that unless you can’t find it anywhere, you should stick to using the ground mace. This spice is very aromatic and brings out the traditional flavours of this heavenly teacake.

Welsh bakers everywhere will tell you that lard is essential for getting that texture just right. If you can’t find it though, you can substitute it with butter.

One last thing…you can substitute those currants for something else if you’d like, though it’s best to keep things dry. Wet ingredients can throw off the balance of the recipe, leaving you with an undesirable texture. Try chocolate chips, coconut shreds, dried cranberries, and things like these to experiment with new Welsh cake flavours.

Make them:
Mix the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, mace, salt, and cinnamon together. Then add the lard and butter, mixing in by hand or if you’d prefer with your food processor. It should look like coarse crumbs when all is said and done.

Add in the currants (or whatever other item you’re using), then the beaten egg. Work in the milk little by little until the dough is soft. It shouldn’t feel wet or sticky. Wrap it and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

welsh cakes ingredients

Roll it out onto a floured surface so the dough reaches about ¼-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Re-roll the scraps again and again until you use up every last bit.

Once your rounds are ready, heat your Welsh cakes griddle over medium heat. You can butter the griddle or lightly grease it with lard. Cook each Welsh cake 3 to 4 minutes per side. They should be lightly browned. If they start cooking too quickly, turn down the heat to prevent burning the outsides before the insides cook.

Allow them to cool for a minute or two after cooking, then as they’re still warm, stick them in a small bowl with the granulated sugar to coat it. And then, enjoy these delightful Welsh cakes!

How to Eat Welsh Cakes

Welsh cakes can be eaten hot or cold, though the vast majority of Welsh people will tell you how to eat Welsh cakes is eating them while they’re still warm. You can heat them up easily in a pan, toaster oven, standard oven, or even your microwave.

Some suggest butter and jam to go along with them though it largely depends on what you’ve added in. The sugar on the outside will make them just perfectly sweet. It’s advised you taste them first before adding anything alongside them, save for a cup of hot tea.

Gluten-Free Welsh Cakes

Do you have a gluten sensitivity? You don’t have to miss out on tasting Welsh cakes. You can simply swap out the flour to make gluten-free Welsh cakes. Choose a gluten-free white flour blend and replace with the same measurements as noted in the recipe above!

Gluten-free or regular, now everyone can enjoy the traditional tastes of Welsh cakes for teatime, or for any time!

At Welsh gifts with heart we also have Welsh cakes gifts available to purchase included our Welsh slate trivet and our Welsh cakes tea-towel.

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