Welcome to my new Blog about my “Food Adventures”! I will be posting my recipes on here as well as a few stories about my Foodie Journey. If you enjoy reading this, feel free to share. For more recipes, see my Facebook Page, also called “Welsh Girl Foodie” or check out my Instagram under the same name. Enjoy!
My love of cooking started as a young girl baking in my Mum’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. I used to help my Mum make a big fruit cake for my Dad’s packed lunches in the week and my Mum would also give me the leftover pastry after she had made the apple pie for Sunday dinner. I would roll and pummel the pastry for hours, eventually making a few jam tarts or one enormous jam turnover. My Dad ate all my pastry offerings and always said they tasted nice, even if the pastry by then was pretty rock hard and dry as a crisp.
My favourite recipe to bake was Welsh Cakes, made to my Nanny Morgan’s recipe, which actually changed very slightly every time we asked her what she put in them! Mum and I baked them together on a traditional Welsh Griddle and it was here that I learnt the skill of cooking these wonderful morsels of Welsh deliciousness. The smell of Welsh Cakes cooking is so heavenly that I usually can’t resist trying one of the first cakes which come off the hot griddle and bite into it before it has time to cool! There is an art to making them just the right thickness so they still cook properly but still give a good sized cake.
You also have to learn to cook them on a griddle at exactly the optimum temperature and not too quickly. The outside should be baked until golden brown and the fruity, buttery inside should still be soft and light, more like a scone than a cake but not gooey in the middle. I mastered the perfect technique from patiently watching my Mum cook them and she learnt to cook Welsh Cakes from my Nan. In fact, anyone who visited my Nan when she was alive, was always offered a cup of tea and a Welsh Cake! Every time I make them and smell that familiar fruity, buttery aroma, I think of home.
I still make these wonderful cakes on the same Welsh griddle which was made originally by my Grandad in a steel factory over 50 years ago. I once had a boyfriend who tried to get me to throw it out because it looked to him like a black old piece of metal. Needless to say, the griddle got the last laugh and lasted longer than the boyfriend!
So here is my Nan’s recipe, although she often added a little bit more of this or a bit less of that. If you don’t have a Welsh Griddle then you can also cook on a good heavy based frying pan. Just use a small amount of butter on the pan surface and get your pan to a good hot temperature before you start cooking. I always do a small test cake first to chek if my pan is the right temperature. I recommend that you also eat the test cake just to be sure! Remember to be patient and take your time cooking them, turning over half way through to cook both sides evenly.
Nanny Morgan’s Welsh Cakes
16 oz of Self Raising Flour ( or plain plus a heaped teaspoon of baking powder)
6oz ( 170g) of caster sugar
6oz (170g) of soft butter or margarine
2 medium eggs
1 oz (25g) of ground almonds
A quarter of a teaspoon of mixed spice
3 to 4oz (110g) of sultanas or mixed dried fruit
1. Put the flour , sugar, butter, almonds and spice in a food processor and spin until it resembles fine breadcrumbs or rub in using finger tips.
2. Add fruit and eggs , mix together to a soft dough. If it’s too dry add a splash of milk .
3. Roll out onto a floured surface to a quarter of an inch thick and cut out rounds ( or heart shapes like I did).
4. Cook on each side on the Griddle ( you can rub a little butter on the pan first) until they are golden brown. They need to be cooked and not doughy in the middle but will firm up a bit on cooling. Don’t cook too quickly either, the Griddle needs to be pretty hot but not so hot that they burn before cooking in the middle. If some of the cakes look like they are cooking too fast or burning then just turn the heat down slightly and move them towards the outside of the griddle where the metal is cooler. This will slow down the baking giving the insides time to cook thoroughly.
5. Cool on a wire rack and dredge in more caster sugar. Remember that they will continue to cook a bit more once removed from the griddle as they cool down
For a variation, I made some without fruit but with a little chopped white chocolate mixed into the dough instead and they were delicious too! Serve with a hot cup of tea and think of my Nan.