If you’ve read my “About” page then you know that my first name is Angharad. What you might not know is that “Angharad” is a Welsh name, (with a meaning that makes me blush) and that my Dad is Welsh, making me half English and half Welsh.
My grandparents lived in Wales my entire life and so I spent a great deal of time staying with them and running amok on the beach near their house. I’ll be going back to Wales in less than two weeks to visit and while my grandparents are no longer alive it means a lot to me to spend time in the place they called home.
I used to love the fact that you could see the sea from their balcony. My parents, sister and I spent countless days walking down to the beach with buckets and spades in the summer, playing in the rock pools and swimming in the cold sea. In the colder months we would rock climb for hours, mum and dad helping me take the bigger steps (I grew up with the nickname “little legs”), and watch the waves crash into the rocks as the tide came in.
I don’t remember my Grandma baking that much but one thing that stands out in my memory are her Welsh cakes. Welsh cakes are like small English scones, traditionally made on a bakestone. I asked my Dad if he had Grandma’s recipe a while ago and recently, as he and my mum were sorting through some things, he discovered this:
My Grandma’s original Welsh cakes recipe, written on the back of a cardboard tea box for my Mum. The note scrawled on the flip side brought tears to my eyes immediately.
In case you can’t make out the writing it says, “From Mum, with love. Remember, no currants for Angharad.”
I forgot that I used to hate (with quite a passion) any kind of dried fruit when I was little. I don’t remember my Grandma noting this fact about me but of course, as any loving relative would, she did, and enough so to write it as post-script to her recipe.
I don’t cook with lard these days, or margarine for that matter, but we always had lard in the fridge at home growing up. I didn’t cook much then but I did always use it to grease the pan for a fry-up. For the sake of my Grandma’s recipe I wanted to stay true to the original. That leftover lard is going to make killer pie crusts, I tell you what.
I added a couple of extra notes in the directions to help those unfamiliar with this kind of recipe and some additional notes at the bottom of the post for American readers.
This recipe means a lot to me and I hope to be making it for my children and my grandchildren some day. I hope you’ll try it too.
Grandma’s Welsh Cakes
These little scone-like “cakes” are not overly sweet and despite my protestations as a little one, the currants add something really important – just a certain je ne sais quoi – some added sweetness. They really are delightful alone (with a cup of tea) but if you have a sweeter tooth, spread them with butter or jam.
- 8 oz flour (1 cup plain/all purpose flour)
- 8 oz self raising flour (1 cup self rising flour)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 oz margarine (1/4 cup)
- 2 oz lard (1/4 cup)
- 3 oz castor sugar (6 tbsp finely granulated sugar)
- 2 oz currants (1/4 cup)
- 1/4 tsp mixed spice or nutmeg (see recipe note, below)
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- a little milk
- Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub the fat (lard and margarine) into the flour mixture with your fingers until it’s crumbly. Mix in the currants. Add the egg and mix into a stiff paste (as you would for short pastry). If it’s a little dry, add the splash of milk. You should have a soft dough, ready to roll out.
- Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut into rounds using whatever tool you prefer (I used little mason jars!)
- Bake on a lightly greased griddle or thick-based frying pan over medium heat, for about 3 minutes a side, until they are golden-brown, crisp, and cooked right through.
- Serve with warm butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with a little more granulated sugar.
Some recipe notes:
- I have listed the British measurements first here, unlike my modus operandi. The American equivalents of measurements and/or ingredients are listed in parentheses.
- Self rising (or self raising) flour can be made at home with plain/all purpose flour by adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to every 1 cup (128g) of plain flour.
- “Mixed spice” is not the same as “all spice”. It’s similar to what Americans know as “pumpkin pie spice” which is what I actually used for this batch. You can see my post on how to make your own pumpkin pie spice here.