Created using photograph by José Encarnação under terms of Creative Commons license
I think that this opening to Under Milk Wood, written as a play for voices by my country man Dylan Thomas, is one of the finest pieces of description in the English language. I wish I’d had room to add the next section about “Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered sea.” but then I wouldn’t have been able to fit in my favourite wordplay”sloeblack, slow black” so I had to cut it.
Dylan Thomas was born today in 1914, and you have to admit, he wrote some incredibly beautiful literature in his short life.
It’s St Dwynwen’s Day tomorrow so how better to show some love than by baking someone some Welsh cakes, or pice ar y maen. This recipe makes the best Welsh cakes, it’s a traditional recipe which couldn’t be easier to make but which always goes down a treat in my house. I’ve made some to take into work with me tomorrow- along with a ginger cake which I just fancied trying out- because we’re holding a joint celebration with Burns’ Night.
To make Welsh cakes you need a heavy, flat griddle (I use one which belonged to my great-grandmother) though a bakestone or heavy bottomed frying pan will do the same job.
Ingredients for Traditional Welsh Cakes
225g self-raising flour (or 225g plain with half a tsp of baking powder)
85g caster sugar
A handful of raisins (more or less according to taste)
1 large egg
Milk (in case the mixture needs some help binding)
Extra butter for greasing
In a mixing bowl, rub together the flour and fat until you have something that looks like crumbs with no lumps of fat showing then stir in the sugar and raisins. Beat your egg then mix it with the dry ingredients to form dough. At this stage, my dough sometimes isn’t doughy enough, so I add in a tiny bit of milk at a time until I can bind it into a dough that I can roll and work with.
2. Roll your dough out on a floured surface until it’s about half a centimetre thick and then cut circles out using a cutter. Welsh cakes normally have a frilly edge and though I normally use a cutter which is about 4inches in diameter, but for St Dwynwen’s day I’ve used a heart shaped cutter.
3. When your dough is made and your cakes are cut, grease your griddle and fry each cake for two or three minutes on each side until they are golden brown, though they taste fine if they go a little darker. Flipping a circle is easy, but go very gently with a non traditional shape or they will fall apart.
I like my cakes pretty much straight off the griddle with a cup of tea while they are still hot and buttery, but they will last a few days in an airtight tin. In university, my housemate’s Mamgu made us enough to fill a 5kg cake tin and we lived off those for weeks. They got a little stale but they were fine washed down with tea!