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.
Easter just isn’t Easter somehow without Easter biscuits. I first starting making these traditional treats flavoured with mixed spice and currants when I was at school and have been making them ever since. This year I thought I’d change things up a bit so I’ve gone for these healthier vegan Easter biscuits with purple corn flour & yacon powder instead.
With October this year designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month, it seems fitting to review The Little Book of Treats sold in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The book was produced specifically for the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning which was held back in September, but on-going support for this vital cause is always welcome – see the website for details. It’s on sale in M&S Cafes for £3.
The booklet I was sent to review consists of 31 baking recipes which would work well for coffee mornings, school fetes and other fund raisers. There are recipes to suit the novice baker as well as some more challenging ones. Recipes have been chosen by keen home bakers as well as a number of celebrities and include: Sophie Dahl’s lemon capri torte, rhubarb crumble muffins, beetroot and chocolate brownies and pancakes from Gwyneth Paltrow. There are several I have my eye on.
I’ve been wanting to make Welsh Cakes for an age now, so looking through the book, I was delighted to come across a recipe from Sue Topley of Gillingham, Dorset. You’d think Welsh Cakes would be really simple, I certainly thought they would be, but I managed to mess them up good and proper – sigh!
This is what I did:
- Rubbed 125g unsalted butter into 250g flour (1/2 spelt, 1/2 white), 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda, 1 tsp cream of tarter and 1/4 tsp salt until the butter had all but disappeared.
- Stirred in 80g cardamom sugar, 75g currants and 50g of chopped dark chocolate (81%).
- Made a well in the centre, dropped in 1 medium egg and stirred.
- Bought the mixture together with my hands into a ball and rolled out on a floured surface to 1.5 cm deep.
- Used one of my new cutters to make 16 rounds.
- All had gone completely fine up to this point, but I hadn’t bargained on the chocolate factor – d’oh!
- Heated a heavy bottomed frying pan on medium heat and added a small splash of sunflower oil to avoid sticking.
- Placed 7 rounds in the pan (whilst I carried on cutting out the others).
- In no time at all, they had burned black – why??? I’m still not entirely sure, because although some of the chocolate melted and burned, the pan wasn’t super hot and there wasn’t that much chocolate oozing out.
- Hey ho, I put the oven on to warm at 200C and baked the remainder for 10 minutes. Placed on a wire rack to cool and sprinkled some caster sugar over the tops.
Welsh Cakes, but not as any self respecting Welsh person would know them! The ultimate insult following the defeat in the Rugby World Cup. Although the insides of the first batch were fine, the burnt outsides ruined them somewhat and I was so looking forward to scoffing hot Welsh Cakes straight from the pan. Those in the oven were fine, but didn’t look like or have the right texture to be anything like authentic. The overall effect of adding the chocolate was really good though and it offset the sweetness nicely. Just as many Welsh households underwent a period of heart searching following the defeat, I’ve been wondering why I failed so spectacularly. Could it be the pan or was it the chocolate?