Back to School Breakfast: No-Frills Welsh Cakes

By Erin McNelis

Closeup_of_Welsh_cakes,_February_2009

Since my oldest son was diagnosed with a food allergy, visits to bakeries have become a thing of the past. I have yet to find a bakery that doesn’t make a peanut butter cookie. I understand that. At one time in my life, I lived on the stuff. But no more. Just because we can’t buy food at a bakery doesn’t mean we don’t crave baked goods. So I’ve had to get creative in the kitchen. I have found that there isn’t anything that I’ve searched for that I couldn’t find a recipe for online.

My oldest started kindergarten this fall, and to send him off, I wanted to prepare a special breakfast. When he is asked what his favorite food is, he doesn’t answer pizza or candy. He likes Welsh Cakes the very best. We have them Christmas morning. That’s how special they are.

Welsh Cakes, from Wales, are a cross between a scone and a pancake, studded with dried currants. When cooked in a skillet or pan, they get crispy on both sides and soft and warm and cakey on the inside. They are delicious and just a tad sweet without any toppings, but I’ve heard some people put butter or jam on them. We sprinkle them with a little sugar at my house.

On that first day of school, disorganization reigned, and we had no currants or their understudy, the raisin, so our Welsh Cakes were uncostumed. Naked. And we didn’t have buttermilk, either. So we used a little plain yogurt. That is half my fun when I’m cooking. Cooking for me is a little science experiment, a little art project, and a little witch stirring her magic potion.

The recipe I use is from the book Heaven’s Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospodar, with the above mentioned modifications. I recommend if at all possible following the recipe as written.

Ingredients:

½ c butter
1 c sugar (I sometimes use less)
2 c flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c currants
½ tsp. ground nutmeg (heaping is okay)
½ to 2/3 c buttermilk

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients and sift over the butter and sugar mixture. Add in currants and buttermilk until it forms a fairly firm dough, like biscuit dough. Roll out to 1/3 of an inch thick. Cut into rounds with a glass or biscuit cutter. Cook over low heat on an ungreased griddle or skillet until golden brown, about five minutes on each side.

I find that the length of cooking time needed decreases as I get further into the batch. Make sure you cook them in the skillet. Once, I thought that it would be easier and simpler if I just baked them on a cookie sheet in the oven. They turned out fine, but they weren’t the same. They came out like soft giant cookies, which is okay if that is what you want, but when you want a Welsh Cake, it just won’t do.

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