What are the Steps to Crafting Authentic Welsh Cakes on a Griddle?

March 19, 2024

An integral part of Welsh cuisine, Welsh cakes are delectable, sweet treats that have been enjoyed for centuries. Traditionally baked on a griddle, these charming little cakes are adorned with sugar and filled with indulgent ingredients like dried fruit and jam. The result is a sweet and slightly crispy cake, perfect for a mid-afternoon treat or a celebratory dessert. But how can you replicate this timeless recipe at home, and even adapt it to suit varying dietary needs such as vegan or dairy-free? In this article, we will guide you through the meticulous process in a simple, easy-to-follow manner.

Unearthing the Recipe

Before we delve into the process, it’s essential to understand what ingredients you’ll need. Welsh cakes typically encompass flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and a variety of optional additional ingredients such as currants, sultanas, or your choice of jam. The dough is then traditionally cooked on a griddle, which imparts a unique crispness to the cakes, unlike any other method of baking.

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To create a vegan or dairy-free variation, you have the freedom to substitute traditional milk for plant-based alternatives, such as almond or oat milk, and utilize dairy-free butter and egg substitutes.

Making the Dough

Once you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to get your hands dirty and start making the dough. Begin by sifting the flour into a large bowl, and then add the sugar, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Then, cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl. Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

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Next, incorporate the dried fruit or any other ingredients you’d like to add, stirring to distribute them evenly. It’s at this stage that you can get creative, adding in your choice of spices or flavorings. Finally, add in the egg (or substitute), followed by the milk a little at a time until you have a firm but pliable dough.

Baking the Cakes

With your dough prepared, it’s time to move into the baking phase. Heat your griddle over medium heat and lightly grease it. While it’s heating, roll out your dough on a floured surface until it’s about a half-inch thick. Then, using a round cutter, cut out your cakes.

Cook your Welsh cakes on the preheated griddle for about three to four minutes on each side. They should be golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside, while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside. Be vigilant – this is not a time to multitask as they can burn quite easily if left unattended.

Finishing Touches

Once the cakes are baked to perfection, remove them from the griddle and sprinkle them with sugar while they’re still warm. This step will give them an irresistible sweetness and a delightful crunch. If you’re feeling particularly inventive, you could also add a spread of jam or a dusting of powdered sugar for an extra indulgence.

Creating Vegan or Dairy-Free Welsh Cakes

If you’re aiming to create vegan or dairy-free Welsh cakes, the process remains largely the same. You’ll simply need to make sure that all of your ingredients align with your dietary needs. When selecting a dairy-free milk, opt for one with a neutral flavor. Almond and oat milk are often favored choices.

For a butter alternative, look for a quality dairy-free margarine. It should be solid at room temperature and have a high fat content to replicate the effects of traditional butter. And, for the egg, there are numerous substitutes available, including applesauce, mashed banana, or commercial vegan egg replacements.

For the finishing touches, instead of using regular sugar, you could use a vegan sugar substitute, like coconut sugar or stevia. Similarly, instead of traditional jams, opt for sugar-free or low-sugar versions.

As you can see, making authentic Welsh cakes at home, whether traditional or adapted to a specific diet, can be a fun and rewarding activity. By following these steps, you can enjoy a taste of Welsh tradition right in your own home!

Experimenting with Variations

Although traditional Welsh cakes are universally loved, innovating and experimenting with the recipe can yield exciting and equally delicious results. For example, chocolate chips or mixed spice could replace the dried fruits like currants or sultanas. The beauty of homemade Welsh cakes is the liberty to customize them according to your personal preference or dietary needs.

If you’re a chocolate lover, why not toss in some chocolate chips to the dough for a divine chocolatey twist? Or perhaps, for a Christmas version, a dash of mixed spice could evoke some nostalgic holiday cheer.

Renowned Welsh baker David Day suggests trying ‘jam splits.’ This delightful variation involves splitting the freshly baked Welsh cakes while they’re still warm and adding a smear of jam. Strawberry jam, with its sweet yet slightly tart flavor profile, is a popular choice; however, feel free to experiment with other flavors.

For those looking for healthier alternatives, substituting white sugar with a natural sweetener, such as honey or agave syrup, could significantly cut down on processed sugar content. Similarly, wholemeal flour could be used instead of white flour for an added boost of fiber and nutrients.

Conclusion

Crafting authentic Welsh cakes at home on a griddle can transport you straight to the charming country of Wales. The process, although meticulous, is filled with joy and satisfaction. By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating these traditional sweet treats, regardless of whether you’re sticking to the classic recipe or trying out a vegan or dairy-free version.

Remember to choose high-quality ingredients to ensure the best possible taste. If you’re opting for plant-based milk and butter, almond and oat milk, along with a high-fat dairy-free margarine, can help you achieve the desired texture and flavor. For egg replacements, applesauce, mashed banana, or a commercial vegan egg substitute will work well.

The cooking time of around three to four minutes on each side is crucial; keep a close eye on your griddle to avoid any chances of burning your batch.

The finishing touches, such as the sprinkle of sugar or a layer of jam, can truly elevate your Welsh cakes to another level. However, feel free to get creative and customize your toppings as per your preference.

So, grab your apron, a rolling pin, and get ready to embark on a Welsh culinary adventure right in your kitchen. Enjoy the process and, more importantly, savor every bite of your homemade Welsh cakes!