I would love to tell you that, growing up in Wales, Welsh cakes were a staple part of my diet, that my grandmother loving made them on a Sunday morning over a hot griddle while we kids sat close by, eagerly waiting for them to be finished. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. To my best recollection, neither my grandmother, or anyone else in my family, ever made these cakes, and the only time we had them was when we got them from our local baker as an occasional treat.
I always loved them, though. That firm, yet crumbly texture. The crunch of sugar that coated them like a sweet blanket. And then… the soft chew of the currants that seemed an inexplicable contrast. Pure, unadulterated delight.
Yet, when I left Wales, it was if I had forgotten all about them. For most of my adult life I denied myself, albeit unconsciously, the luxurious flavour of this incredibly simple cake. Even when I was cooking for a living, they only occasionally crossed my mind and I never got around to actually making them. Then, just a year ago, my son was asked to present a regional dish to his class as an assignment. I immediately thought of Welsh cakes and set about creating a vegan version. It was a roaring success and so I have printed it here for you to try. A heavy-based frying pan with a wide surface can be used instead of a griddle. I don’t have one, so a frying pan is what I use.
I have not yet made a gluten-free version of these, but I have done enough recipes to know that, if you substitute the plain flour for gluten-free plain and add 2 tsp of xanthan gum, you are sure to get good results. Just remember that the finished pastry won’t be as stretchy at the gluten version, so handling it will be more difficult.
Prep time: 20minutes (plus 30 minutes chilling time) Cooking time: About 8 minutes per batch.
Makes about 22
550g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
240g vegan butter or margarine
140g currants (or raisins)
100ml vegan milk
Several tbsp caster sugar to dust
Put the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder, salt and butter into a large mixing bowl and rub between your fingers until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. This will take about 8 minutes.
Once this is achieved, stir in the currants and then pour in the vegan milk. Mix until it all comes together and then use your hands to knead for just a minute to form a pastry dough.
Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, roll out on a lightly floured surface, to about 1cm (just under ½ inch) thick. Use a round pastry cutter, approximately 9cm (3.5 inches) in diameter and cut the rounds out of the pastry. You will need to re-roll the pastry a few times to use it all up.
Heat a griddle, or heavy-based frying pan, until quite hot, then grease with just a small amount of oil. Place up to 4 (depending on the size of your pan) Welsh cakes into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes each side on a medium heat, until they are quite well browned but not burnt.
Set the cooked cakes on a wire rack to cool while you get on with the other batches.
Now pour the extra caster sugar out onto a large plate and dip both sides of the Welsh cakes into the sugar, until they are reasonably coated.
Serve straight away or store for 24 hours.