Wholemeal Spelt Welsh Cakes – Sweet Buttery Delights from Wales
It may be cold and blustery outside, but I’m noticing signs of spring here, with snowdrops and even daffodils emerging. This combined with the fast approaching, St David’s Day on 1 March put me in mind of Wales’ national bake, Welsh cakes. My wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes are super easy to make. They’re crisp on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside and incredibly moreish. This wonder food from the west is the perfect antidote to the Beast from the East.
If you’ve not tried or even heard of Welsh cakes, they’re little rounds of buttery deliciousness studded with dried fruit – sort of a cross between a sweet scone and a pancake. They’re made on the stove top rather than in the oven. Not so very long ago, when homes didn’t have their own ovens, cooking over an open fire was the only option. Bread and cakes were made on a griddle or bakestone. These wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes are not exactly traditional, but they’re my tribute to a nation that has the good sense to choose the leek as its national vegetable.
The Beast from the East
At the weekend, we took advantage of the clear blue skies and spent our time outside in the garden. This cold bright weather is my absolute favourite and as long as I wrap up warm and keep moving, I want to be out in it. Clearing brambles and ivy kept us both busy and warm, but on Sunday afternoon, we felt we needed a break and took off over the Forest for a brisk walk. When we got back, we needed something sweet and comforting that was quick and easy to put together. These wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes hit the spot. They’re the perfect comfort food: not too sweet, nourishing and filling.
Wholemeal Spelt Welsh Cakes
If you look at most recipes for Welsh cakes, plain or self-raising are the flours of choice. I prefer to feel nourished by my food so used wholemeal spelt. I also like the nutty quality that wholemeal and spelt in particular bring to bakes. If you’re worried about using wholemeal flour, these wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes are a good place to start. You don’t want a spectacular rise. Welsh cakes are not meant to be light and fluffy.
For the dried fruit, I went with tradition and chose currents, but sultanas or raisins would be fine. I went easy on the sugar; enough so that we knew we were eating something sweet, but not so much as to make us feel the cakes veered towards unhealthy. Untraditionally, I added a little spice to my wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes. Again, not so much that the flavour dominated, but just a hint to enhance the buttery sweetness of the cakes. I also used yoghurt instead of milk. It adds a certain flakiness to these types of bakes, something I discovered when I first made the wonderful flaky pastry I used in this gooseberry galette.
The cakes take only minutes to cook in the pan and you can tuck into the first batch of warm cakes whilst the second batch is cooking. I’d envisaged eating just two or three each, then freezing the rest for another day. But oh no, we were so cold and hungry from our walk in the freezing wind, we ended up eating the entire batch of 22. Call us greedy, but they were irresistible. So, if you’re planning on making these wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes, just make sure you have a few others in the house to share them with.
Don’t Burn The Cakes
It may be an inappropriate moment to mention an English hero when waxing lyrical about Welsh cakes, but bear with me. My previous attempt at Welsh cakes led to charred fare worthy of King Alfred – oh yes, I burnt the cakes. The secret, I’ve realised ruefully, is to go easy on the chocolate, like none at all. It’s also important to curb your enthusiasm; bake these wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes over a moderate heat. A griddle or cast iron pan would be wonderful, but I made do with a non-stick ceramic pan, as that is all I have.
Wholemeal Spelt Welsh Cakes – The Recipe
- 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp allspice
- 125 g salted butter - cold but cut into pieces
- 60 g golden caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- 60 g currants
- 1 free-range egg
- 2 tbsp yoghurt
- 1-2 tbsp water
- In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour, baking powder and spice with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar and currants.
- Make a well in the centre and break in the egg. Add the yoghurt and 1 tbsp of water. Stir from the inside out with a flat bladed knife until the dough started to come together. Add a little more water if needed.
- Bring the dough together with your hands. It should be soft, but not too sticky.
Roll out on a floured board to about 1 cm thick and stamp into 6 cm rounds. Gather all the bits into a ball, re-roll and stamp out.
- Heat a cast iron pan or non-stick pan to a medium heat then place as many rounds as will fit in it.
- Bake for 3 minutes on one side, then flip over and bake for a further 3 minutes. The cakes should be nicely browned and risen by about a half.
- Place onto a cold plate and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
- Repeat the process until all the dough has been used.
Best eaten warm from the pan and definitely on the day of baking, but can be frozen if needed.
I’m sharing these wholemeal spelt pancakes with Everyday Healthy Recipes for #CookBlogShare.
And #BakingCrumbs too over at Only Crumbs Remain.
Other Welsh recipes you might like
- Bara brith via Planet Veggie
- Bara-brith biscuits via Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen
- Crempog via Tin and Thyme
- Leek and Caerphilly Welsh rarebit – via Natural Kitchen Adventures
- Snowdon pudding – via Tin and Thyme
- Welsh rarebit loaded potatoes with crispy leeks via Munchies and Munchkins