Snow. As a child, the sight of those icy flakes falling was of the utmost excitement and held the promise of sledging, snowball fights and days off school. Basically, the best thing in the whole world to a small kid. How times have changed.
This week in Surrey, we got a lot of snow and with it treacherous roads and difficult journeys to work. And by Wednesday it stopped me getting in to work altogether. On Thursday after yet more snow I had to walk to the supermarket to get food and I was able, for a short while, to appreciate the beauty of a snowy vista – I think I must have one of the prettiest routes to the supermarket.
Of course, a snowy day is perfect for settling in the kitchen and baking something warm and comforting. B. is the baker in our household and something I had been wanting him to try for a while was his Nana’s Welsh cakes. I must admit, whenever his Nana baked them, I wanted to eat them all – to be polite, I only ate a few at a time.
Welsh cakes are a true symbol of frugal baking – which is also very apt at the moment – and are similar to the very English scone. They are very simple to make and use just a few ingredients: flour, sugar, dried fruit, butter and eggs.
So, while I got on with some work, B. baked me some Welsh cakes. They were fantastic, and very similar to his Nana’s – although he used butter rather than margarine, so they were slightly richer. They can be eaten hot or cold, although I like them best when they are still warm from the pan. The perfect teatime treat, and just right for a cold, snowy day.
Makes 24 cakes
225g self-raising flour
85g white granulated sugar
¼ tsp mixed spice
115g butter, room temperature and cut into small cubes
Good handful of sultanas (about 100g)
1 small egg, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Put the flour, sugar and mixed spice into a bowl and mix together with your hands. Rub the butter in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the sultanas and mix well. Pour in the beaten egg and mix to a dough. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on baking paper until it is ½ cm thick. Using a 58mm cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Dust each round with a little flour on each side.
3. Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan or skillet over a medium heat, then turn down to a low heat. Begin by frying just one or two rounds to test the oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, then a further 1 minute on each side until the cakes are a pale golden brown. Be careful that the oil is not too hot – if the cakes start to go dark brown or a slight grey colour, turn down the heat immediately as this means the sugar is burning. Continue in batches of 6 or so (depending on the size of your pan), adding more oil in between batches.
4. Put the cakes on a cooling rack to cool – eat warm or cold.