Welsh Cakes or Bakestones


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Welsh Cakes originate from the country of Wales in Great Britain — an ancient Celtic country, historically known for agriculture and mining. It was once, and for a long time, the largest coal producing nation on earth.  Originating in the 1800s, these cakes were often carried into the mines both in Wales and by Welsh immigrant miners here in the Anthracite Coal Region as a meal. Since they are durable, filling and delicious, Welsh Cakes became a favored treat of the coal miner husbands of many a Welsh housewife.

My Mom’s father’s family had Welsh roots and immigrated to the New World where their connection to the Anthracite Region and coal mining encompassed several generations.Welsh Cakes are also known as “Bakestones” because they are traditionally made on a cast iron griddle known as a bakestone.

The cakes are a cross between a cookie, a scone, and a pancake but they are truly unlike any of these things when it comes to taste and texture. They are made from ingredients similar to a scone, but they are cooked like a pancake on a griddle or in a heavy pan — they are NOT BAKED. Sweet, but not too sweet, they can be eaten out of hand, can be served plain, sprinkled with super-fine or confectioners sugar, with cinnamon-sugar, or spread with butter or jam. In addition, they’re excellent the next day, warmed in the toaster.

Welsh Cakes are often made with lard but you have options — use all butter, use some butter and some lard (as here in my Mom’s recipe) or use all lard. Some recipes use spices, this one does not (but you might choose to use them); I suspect cooks in 1800s Wales did not have exotic spices like nutmeg at their fingertips and the addition of spices were added later.  You can skip the currants if absolutely necessary — like if eating them causes you imminent danger — but I highly suggest you add them, they make a world of difference. If you cannot, or do  not want to use currants, golden raisins may be substituted.  Leftover cakes can be split and warmed in the toaster or frozen for eating later.

Welsh Cakes or Bakestones

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Snacks, DessertsCuisine: Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate

The cakes are a cross between a cookie, a scone, and a pancake. They are made from ingredients similar to a scone, but they are cooked like a pancake on a griddle or in a heavy pan — they are NOT BAKED.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup cold butter AND

  • 1/3 cup lard

  • OR use 1 cup all butter or 1 cup all lard

  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar

  • 1/2 cup currants (or golden raisins)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • OPTIONAL 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • Pinch salt

  • Milk, if needed

Directions

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, spice (if using) together into a mixing bowl.
  • Cut up the cold butter and lard and rub into the flour mix with fingers until it is crumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar and currants, pour in the egg and mix to form a dough, use a little milk if the mixture is a little dry.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Use a 3 inch round pastry cutter to cut out rounds.
  • Cook the cakes on a lightly greased cast iron pan/griddle or heavy frying pan until golden. (Heat should not be too high, as the cakes will cook on the outside too quickly and not in the middle.
  • Once cooked sprinkle with super fine sugar, cinnamon sugar or split and eat with butter or jam.
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