Bakestones (Picau ar y maen/Welsh Cakes)

Melt in your mouth Welsh Cakes- the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea.

Preparation time: 10 minutesCooking time: 10-20 minutes
Serves: 10Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 50g/just under 2oz/1/4 cup of butter
  • 50g/just under 2oz/1/4 cup of lard
  • 225g/8oz/just under 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 85g/3oz/just under 1/2 a cup of caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 50g/2oz/1/3 cup of currants, raisins or sultanas
  • Extra butter and sugar, for cooking and dusting

Make it vegan: replace the butter and lard with plant based margarine-or you can replace the lard with vegan suet if you can get ahold of any! Replace the egg with a tablespoon of aquafaba and use soya milk in place of milk.

Special Equipment

  • A large mixing bowl
  • A wooden spoon
  • A frying pan, griddle or traditional Celtic bakestone
  • A spatula

Method

  • 1. Rub the butter, lard and flour together in a mixing bowl with your fingers, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  • 2. Stir the sugar, mixed spice, salt, milk and egg into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon until well combined, then stir in the currants.
  • 3. Roll out the cake mixture on a well-floured surface until the dough is about 1cm thick. Cut it into 6cm rounds with a cookie cutter.
  • 4. Place a large frying pan, griddle, or traditional Celtic bakestone on the hob over a medium-high heat. Add a little butter for greasing.
  • 5. Pop three or four rounds onto the pan/griddle/bakestone and cook for two minutes, before flipping them over and cooking for two minutes more, until they are lightly browned on both sides. Repeat the process with the remaining rounds.
  • 7. Pop the finished Welsh Cakes onto a plate and dust them with extra caster sugar. Repeat the cooking process with the rest of the rounds. Serve them while they’re still hot.
  • 8. Mwynhewch eich bwyd!

Tips

  • If using a traditional griddle or bakestone, you may need to cook the cakes over a gas hob. Alternatively, you can cook them on an electric griddle.
  • Welsh Cakes are best served hot but you can serve them cold too, with butter and jam.

Background

Pronunciation: (Pick-aur-a-mein)

Home: Wales

Relatives: Hevva Cake (Cornwall), Girdle Scones (Scotland), Scone (Ireland, United Kingdom)

Scenery in Snowdonia, Wales

History

Welsh Cakes became a Welsh staple food during the 19th century, but they probably date back to mediaeval times. They were traditionally baked on a Welsh bakestone, a cast iron disc which was coated with lard and never to be washed, so that a patina would form. The Welsh bakestone is a descendant of the old Celtic Greidell, and similar bakestones can be found in other Celtic nations- for example, the Scottish Girdle and Irish Griddle.

Welsh Cakes were popularized during the Victorian era: they were relatively quick and inexpensive to make, durable, and easily transportable, and therefore were the perfect treat for children to bring to school, or for coal miners working in Wales’ booming coal industry to bring to work as a snack.

The Welsh coal industry was integral to the country’s Industrial Revolution, providing fuel for factories, transport and domestic use. Welsh coal mining boomed in the 18th century, and by the early 20th century, the Welsh coalfields were some of the largest in the world. Whole generations of families made their income from coal mining in this era. In the traditional family set up, the men went mining, the children went to school- and the woman would take care of the household and prepare Welsh Cakes for the family. The miners worked long days with little respite, so a few hardy Welsh Cakes would be brought down the mines, stashed into pockets and coats, for them to eat during the day.

Eventually, the mines would close. But even with the need to supply miners with quick, durable food gone, the Welsh Cake remained popular, particularly as a treat to be taken with afternoon tea. They’re very much considered a national treasure, and they’re especially popular at Christmas, and on Saint David’s Day, the feast day of Wales’ patron saint, which falls on March 1st.

Church in Beddgelert, in Gwynedd, Wales

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: