Mum’s Welsh Cakes
St David’s day, 1st March, every year without fail my Mum made Welsh Cakes. My Welsh speaking Mum used to call them ‘Pic ar y maen’. She would stand at the stove for hours, flipping the little cakes, watching they didn’t burn, and hushing us away as we tried to nab the hot ones straight from the griddle pan. No one made Welsh cakes quite like Mum did – crumbly but firm, with just the right dusting of sugar across the top.
She would always make far more than the family could eat, some were taken to work, the others stashed in the freezer and brought out again in July when we’d forgotten they ever existed.
This year there won’t be any Welsh cakes made by Mum as last June she was cruelly taken away from us by Mesothelioma – a form of lung cancer. It seems funny now, but in the days after she died, I had an immediate instinct to make up a batch of Welsh cakes for the family who had all gathered together at the house. The picture below is from that batch. I was hoping my cakes would bring comfort, fond memories of Mum making them and most of all replicate a Welsh cwtch* from Mum for all of those that needed it. Silly really.
A good heavy griddle pan (or maen in Welsh) is essential to the success of the Welsh cake. Mum bought me one, so I could learn to make my own the first Christmas after I’d officially left home.
*A cwtch is a welsh cuddle
- 225g self raising flour or for gluten free, use a white flour blend (Doves works well) + 1 tsp baking powder
- 75g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 110g butter (organic/Grass Fed such as Kerrygold ideal)
- 75g dried mixed fruit
- 1 small egg
- First, sift together the flour, caster sugar & nutmeg. Cut the butter into small chunks and rub it into the dry mix, as you would for making pastry. When the mixture becomes crumbly add in the fruit. Beat the egg and then add this into the mixture, working it into a dough. I have found that adding a dribble of extra water or milk helps if using GF flour and the mix is too dry and won’t come together.
- Move the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and roll out to ½ centimetre thick. Using a 6.5cm circular cookie cutter cut the dough into rounds. Keep re-rolling the left-overs until all the dough is used up.
- Using kitchen paper lightly smear the griddle pan all over with butter and warm over a medium heat. Cook the cakes in batches for 3 minutes each side until golden browned - making sure that they are cooked on the inside as well as the out.
- Sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar and serve warm. Some Welshies serve with extra butter on top. This was not our family tradition!
update: a year on I did manage to tackle and succeed at Paleo-style grain free welsh cakes – you can find the recipe here