Happy St David’s Day!
I’ve just come back from a long weekend in Porto with my friend Alys and it was amusing to observe people there trying to figure us out when we spoke Welsh. Al’s an exotic beauty (she’s half Italian) and I’m tall, blonde and milk bottle pale so people must wonder where on earth we’re from.
I’ve always been glad to be Welsh and I like the fact there is no one way to define our identity. I, for example (and I’ll whisper it), don’t particularly like the rugby but I do like Tom Jones. Perhaps Wilfred Wilson summed it up best when he said that:
To be born Welsh, is to be born privileged, not with a silver spoon in your mouth but with music in your blood and poetry in your soul.
My nana had this poem up on the wall in her kitchen in Aberdare and whenever I see these lines I think of her. Anyway, as it’s St David’s Day, I’ve made some Welsh cakes – or pice ar y maen as they’re also known. I’m a very nervous baker (no, I can’t believe that I used to have a baking blog either) and I’d like to practise more even if it does mean getting flour everywhere.
I searched the internet for vegan Welsh cake recipes and decided to go with this one from The Vegan Taff.
Making these was a much less traumatic experience than my recent pancake disaster but this being me, the recipe didn’t quite go to plan and at one point I thought I’d seriously messed things up. I must have added too much almond milk as the mixture resembled cookie dough and I ended up eating rather a lot of it (hey, it was stuck to my hands and I hate waste – not that I needed more sugar and fat after this weekend) but I just about rectified things by adding more flour. The mixture was still a tad too elastic though and kept sticking to the rolling pin.
The recipe’s not perfect (personally, I’d add a LOT more sugar to the mixture) but this is a quick and easy way to make Welsh cakes and the end result is tasty even if mine don’t look very pretty.
The old adage goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Well, I couldn’t be bothered. My first attempt at Welsh cakes will be just fine with a bit of jam for added sweetness but I’ll definitely be making them again.
Here’s the recipe if you fancy giving them a go.
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine like Vitalite
- 1/2 cup caster sugar plus more sprinkling later
- 1/4 cup sultanas
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- A splash of rice milk
- A mixing bowl
- A rolling pin
- A large non-stick frying pan (if you have a griddle that would be perfect)
- A plate
- Cookie cutters (a cup or glass would do fine)
- Measure all of your ingredients out and add them all to a large mixing bowl, except for the milk and fruit.
- With your fingers, rub the mixture together until it becomes like breadcrumbs. It should be crumbly and even with no lumps of butter.
- Add the dried fruit and mix it in.
- Add a small dash of milk and mix it in with your hands. Add a tiny bit at a time until the crumble mix turns into a dry dough. It should be dry enough that it doesn’t stick to the bowl, but wet enough that it will stay in a ball.
- Flour up your work surface and place the dough on it.
- Flour up your rolling pin before rolling the dough until it is approx. 1cm thick. You don’t want them too thick or they won’t be cooked through.
- Using your cookie cutter cut out your shapes. You should get about 18 good sized ones out of this dough.
- Pre-heat your non-stick frying pan or griddle on a medium heat, don’t turn it up too high or the outside will cook too fast. If you don’t have a non-stick pan you can use a normal one, just remember to lightly grease it up first. You don’t want to fry them, we’re just heating them through.
- Once they’re cooked they should be dry not greasy and firm not soft, and of course beautifully golden brown.
- It will take 2-3 minutes either side for them to be golden brown and properly cooked. Once you’re done put them on a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar either side while they’re still hot so it sticks.