These traditional Welsh cakes are crisp on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside and make the most perfect teatime treat.
Dating back to the late 18th, early 19th century Welsh cakes were originally baked on a bakestone or griddle over an open fire at a time when most homes did not have a domestic oven.
They are also sometimes know as Griddle stone or bakestones or by their regional Welsh names.
Today these traditional bakes are still enjoyed, in Wales they are commonly eaten on St. David’s day but are also enjoyed all year round.
Don’t worry you don’t have to make an open fire in order to try these delightful Welsh cakes, today they are baked on a griddle or heavy-based frying pan on the hob (stovetop).
They are quick and easy to make which makes them a great last-minute teatime treat. They would also be delicious served with morning coffee or even added as a sweet treat to a packed lunch box.
What is a Welsh Cake?
If you have not come across Welsh cakes before and are wondering what exactly they taste like, then they are probably best described as somewhere between a scone and a pancake.
They are made in a similar way to scones but as they are cooked on a direct heat are much thinner. A thick cake would burn on the outside long before the centre is cooked on a hot griddle.
As they are slimmer, they are not usually slit in half and spread with butter and jam, as is common with a scone, though they are sometimes served warm from the griddle smeared with butter.
They have a higher proportion of butter than a scone in the dough, so I really don’t think they really need anything more. More often than not they are simply dusted with caster sugar.
While they can be eaten hot or cold, it has to be said it really hard to beat them eaten fresh and warm.
However, you eat them they should carry a warning for being extremely moorish. They will keep in an airtight container for about 4 days and can also be frozen, but truth be told it will take a lot of will power not to scoff the lot warm from the pan.
For an alternate Welsh bake you might also like to try Bara Brith.
As with many “traditional” recipes many variations have evolved over the years. But all variations usually have some form of dried fruit.
Currents are probably the most authentic but softer plump sultanas are also very popular and my choice in this recipe. These days they may even be seen with dried cranberries perfect for the festive Christmas season.
Sometimes orange or lemon zest is added to the dough and in some recipes, nutmeg or mixed spice is added but they are also often made without any sweet spices.
Many traditional recipes use a mixture of ½ butter and ½ lard. I have used all butter here as I don't often have lard in the fridge.
There does not seem to be any consensus as to what size a Welsh cake should be. I used a 7.5cm (3in) round cutter which yields about 18 Welsh Cakes.
You can make a larger or smaller amount depending on which size you choose to make them. You can even cook it as one large Welsh cake and serve cut into wedges.
- As I have mentioned before Welsh cakes are easy to make but as with scones take care not to over work the dough. You want to just lightly need until the mixture comes together.
- “Baking” them can be a little tricky as you will need to get the pan heat just right so that you do not burn the outside. Aim for a medium low heat under the pan.
- I have a cast iron flat griddle which I use to make mine which is perfect but if you do not have a griddle you can use a frying pan instead. But make sure you choose a heavy-based pan that will spread the heat evenly.
- Cheap nonstick pans will likely cause the cakes to burn on the outside before they are cooked through. I have also cooked mine successfully in a cast iron pan and also my heavy based ceramic nonstick frying pan.
Allow the Welsh cakes to cool on a wire rack then open freeze them on a tray, before transferring to a freezer container or bag. This will allow you to remove just one or two at a time.
Freeze for up to 4 months. Allow to defrost at room temperature for about an hour. Or if you can't wait that long pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to defrost.
They can also be frozen before baking. Freeze as above. Remove them from the freezer about one hour before you are ready to cook them to defrost at room temperature.
How to make Welsh cakes step by step
- 225 g (8oz) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp mixed spice
- 125 g (4oz) butter diced
- 50 g (2oz)sultanas
- 50 g (2oz)golden caster sugar plus extra for dusting
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tbsp milk
- oil or butter for greasing
- Rolling Pin
- 7.5cm (3in) round cutter
- flat griddle or heavy based frying pan
- Sift 225g (8oz) plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp mixed spice into a mixing bowl. Add 125g (4oz) diced butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the 50g (2oz) sultanas and 50g (2oz) sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and 2 tbsp milk and mix together to form a soft dough.
- Lightly knead then roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1cm (½in) thick.
- Cut out the cakes using a 7.5cm (3in) cookie cutter. Re-rolling the trimmings as required.
- Gently heat a heavy-based griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan and lightly grease with a little oil or butter.
- Cook the cakes for 3 to 4 minutes each side until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm sprinkled with caster sugar.
- Take care not to overwork the dough. You want to just lightly need until the mixture comes together to form a soft dough.
- “Baking” them can be a little tricky as you will need to get the pan heat just right so that you do not burn the outsides. Aim for a medium-low heat under the pan.
- Use a flat cast iron griddle pan or a heavy based frying pan that distributes heat well. Cheap lightweight pans will likely burn the cakes.
- In an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freeze cooked or raw for up to 4 months