Welsh Cakes have always been my go-to standby for surprise guests; they are so simple to make and are best eaten hot, bounced from hand-to-hand almost straight from the pan. My grandmother, who at the age of twelve took over her family’s weekly baking told me how Welsh Cakes scarcely made it out of the pan before being demolished by one or other of her brothers.
I enjoy the ritual of the Welsh Cake; I always feel as if I am at the end of long, ancient line of ‘planc’ bakers, even the cakes reputedly burnt by King Alfred were Griddle Cakes. There’s something so comforting about the pliable, slightly sticky dough and the griddle warming on the stove. I own three; one standard, plate-sized and Welsh made; an enormous (almost too big to carry) very old planc pitted through years of use and delightfully burnished with age. My latest acquisition, mostly due to my burning myself frequently, is a cast iron enamelled Staub crepe pan with a proper handle. As long as I remember that handles get hot, this seems to work extremely well, and it is also perfect for cooking breakfast and steaks on, and pancakes (which is its true purpose)
Welsh cakes, traditionally, are dotted with currants and liberally scattered with caster sugar, but in this recipe I have removed the currents and replaced them with a generous teaspoon of cinnamon which gives an autumnal feel to the cakes. I always find Easter biscuits and traditional Welsh Cakes very similar in taste so perhaps I associate currants with spring, but in the colder months cinnamon is wonderful for warding off colds and it has anti-inflammatory properties to ease those cold-weather aches.
We like to serve them topped with clotted cream and jam, or (and I don’t advocate this too often) clotted cream and golden syrup.
Welsh Cakes are also extremely family friendly and children love to help cut out the dough in a variety of shapes, we’ve even made pumpkin shaped, Halloween ones.
A good Welsh Cake should have a soft, light scone-like texture; they cannot be cut too deep nor too shallow. They keep well in a tin and there are very few people who’ll refuse one when offered!
Autumn Cinnamon Welsh Cakes
Makes 12-18, depending on size but as long as they are generally the same thickness it’ll be fine
250g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
130g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar (I use unrefined because it gives a lovely toffee-like undertone)
1 large egg, beaten
1 heaped tsp of cinnamon
splash of milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add a pinch of salt to the flour and rub in the butter
When the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs, add the sugar and cinnamon and combine well
Pour in the egg – a little at a time until you have a sticky, light dough. You can add a splash of milk or a little more flour if the dough appears too soft or too dry
On a floured board, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 8mm and cut into shapes as desired
Heat your bake-stone or a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat
Cook the Welsh Cakes until golden brown and then turn over
Reduce the heat to low and keep turning them until they are evenly coloured and cooked through (you may need to ‘test’ one at this stage)
They usually take about 12 minutes in total but it will vary depending upon thickness of pan and thickness of cake
Remove and place on a cooling rack
combine the sugar and cinnamon and dust over the Welsh Cakes