Last year my sister published her first book and asked me to make some canapés for the launch. I didn’t have much time to prepare, so wracked my brains for something quick, easy and delicious.
I am extremely proud of my Welsh heritage and, as I have mentioned before, am a great believer in the old cooking methods, so I turned to one of my favourite recipes and adapted it to suit. Welsh Cakes. Made on cast iron griddles for centuries, most people know them as the current speckled, sugar-dredged teatime treat but with a little experimentation I was able to produce 3 different savoury canapés, to suit all tastes. I cook my Welsh Cakes on a large cast iron griddle but you can use a heavy based frying pan just as well, it’s also possible to bake them on sheets in the oven but the exterior texture won’t be quite the same.
These also freeze extremely well, before, and after cooking.
Savoury Welsh Cake Canapés – this recipe will easily make over 100 depending on the size of cutters
750g self raising flour
150g lard or vegetable fat
3 eggs, beaten
1 heaped tsp sea salt
good grinding of black pepper
75g mature cheddar cheese
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
1 heaped tsp dried dill
the zest of half a lemon, finely grated
Rub the fat into the flour, salt and pepper until it resembles ‘breadcrumbs’. Divide the mixture between three bowls.
Into the first bowl, add the cheese and mustard
Into the second, add the dill and lemon zest
Leave the third plain
Add a beaten egg to each bowl and form into a ball, if it’s too moist, add a little more flour, too dry, add little milk or water
Wrap each ball in foil or cling film and place in the fridge until chilled. This allows the pastry to rest and makes it easier to roll out later
Once the pastry is chilled, roll each ball out on a floured board to a depth of 1 cm. Cut into any shape you like – at this time of year it’s quite nice to use festive shapes, small leaves, bells, holly etc.
Heat your Bakestone, Griddle or frying pan over a medium heat and cook the cakes in batches, they shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes a side, larger cakes will, of course take longer.
These can be kept in a lidded Tupperware until needed. If you would like to make a version suitable for vegans, use all vegetable fat instead of butter.
Ideas for the Plain Welsh Cakes
Bacon, Brie and Cranberry (not the most imaginative but universally liked)
Hummous, Olives, Baba Ganoush, roasted peppers, mozzarella, smoked tofu
Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnuts
Chestnuts and Roasted Butternut Squash
Ideas for the Cheese Welsh Cake
Butter fried leeks and Caerphilly
Any cheese with chutney or relish
Sun dried tomatoes
Pastrami and Cornichons
Ideas for the Lemon and Dill Welsh Cakes
Any sort of smoked fish: salmon, trout or Gravadlax with accompanying sauces
Fish Pâté – mackerel, trout, potted shrimps
Prawns in Cocktail Sauce (retro but good!)
Caviar with Sour Cream
Smoked Cod Roe