- Food & Drink
Debs' Welsh cakes
After eating all the Welsh cakes in Cardiff at the Visit Wales lunch, I returned to London with a new griddlecake obsession. How could I not develop a long and loving fascination with something that tastes like a magic mix of pancake, biscuit and fried pastry? With sultanas! So, it was with fortuitous timing that @debswelshcakes messaged me a few days later to ask if she could send me a box of her Welsh cakes.
48 hours later, a slim white box slid through my letterbox, only to be snatched up before it had the chance to hit the doormat. Inside were two paper packets of Welsh cakes. My first sugar-dusted bite confirmed that I had been quite right to agree/plead with Debs Hayward to send me the Welsh cakes and send them to me now. The light golden crust gave way to a short, buttery centre busy with sultanas. The box was reduced to crumbs within a day.
Debs uses her mother-in-law’s recipe and makes her Welsh cakes with nothing more complex than butter, sugar, flour, eggs and sultanas. Inspired, I determined to make my own and immediately set about the internet, trying to find the perfect Welsh cakes recipe.
Naturally, no one can agree on what should or shouldn’t go into a Welsh cake. It’s like seeking out the definitive Cornish pasty or Staffordshire oatcake. Everyone thinks their way of making them is the right way and will either secretively hoard the recipe or start pub fights over the fat-to-flour ratio and whether it should be currants or sultanas.
In the end, I settled on this recipe, slightly fiddling about with the quantities of flour and sugar, and using sultanas rather than currants for the prosaic reason that was what I had in my cupboard. The resulting Welsh cakes are, to be frank, not as good as the ones Debs makes. Clearly I lack the innate Welshness that would make my Welsh cakes both light and squidgyly rich at the same time.
Debs generously sent me a box of Welsh cakes free of charge, but you can buy them from her website www.welshcakesonline.co.uk and they’re £12.99 for 18. She also makes plain Welsh cakes for the dried fruit haters among you, mini ones and heart-shaped ones for the romantically inclined.
If you’re making the Welsh cakes below, it’s very important that you let them cool before sinking your teeth into them. Warm from the pan, they’re a little too soft and fluffy. At room temperature they firm up and develop a biscuity texture that makes them good with a cup of tea.
200g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
50g cold butter, chopped
50g cold lard, chopped, plus extra for frying
100g caster sugar
75g sultanas or currants
1 medium egg, beaten
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter and lard to make fine crumbs, then stir in 75g of the sugar and the sultanas. Stir in the beaten egg to make a soft dough.
Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn out the dough. Pat into a smooth round, then roll it out so it’s 1/2cm high. Cut out 6cm rounds and set these aside. Reroll the trimmings and cut out more rounds until you’ve used all the dough up.
Grease a griddle or frying pan with lard and place over a medium-high heat. Fry the Welsh cakes in batches, regreasing the pan between batches, for approximately 2–3 minutes each side, until golden and cooked through. Toss each Welsh cake in the remaining sugar to lightly coat and then set aside to cool. They will keep for 2–3 days in an airtight container.