Cooks who love to bake, and are looking for classic British baking recipes as well as the history behind them, will love Regula Ysewijn’s latest cookery book Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The History of British Baking, Savoury and Sweet.
Do try this traditional recipe Welsh Cakes recipe. Cooked on a flat griddle or bakestone, they are also known as ‘picau ar y maen‘ (cake on the stone), ‘pice bach‘ (little pies), or ‘cacen gri’ (unleavened cakes).
This is the first recipe we made from the book and they came out perfectly!
These griddle cakes come from Wales but are commonly eaten throughout Britain. In Welsh they have a couple of names: picau ar y maen, pice bach and cacen gri. The word ‘maen’ means bakestone, referring to the fact that Welsh cakes are baked on a griddle. Welsh cakes were sometimes called Bakestones. The Yorkshire Evening Post from 15 April 1935 reported: ‘The other day I gave a recipe for Welsh bakestone cakes ...’
- 25 g (1 oz) chilled butter
- 25 g (1 oz) lard (or more butter)
- 150 g (5½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 25 g (1 oz) white sugar
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- 35 g (1¼ oz) currants
- flour, for dusting
- caster (superfine) sugar, for sprinkling
Rub the butter and lard, if using, into the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Add the golden syrup, egg and milk and use a wooden spoon or spatula to combine everything. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more milk. You’re aiming for the consistency of scone dough.
Finally, knead in the currants and roll out the dough on a floured work surface to a thickness of 1.5 cm (5⁄8 inch). Use a 6–7 cm (2½–2¾ inch) cutter to cut out circles. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting out circles until you have used all of the dough.
Place a cast-iron pan on the stove to heat up. Use a pinch of flour or a bit of the dough to test the heat of the pan. If it burns immediately, it is too hot. When it takes a few minutes to brown, it is perfect.
Bake the cakes for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Generously sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Regula Ysewijn’s Oats in the North, Wheat from the South from publisher Murdoch Books. Photography by Regula Ysewijn. Available on Amazon UK at time of review for £17.70 (RRP £25).