Friday, 10 August 2012
Blueberry Welsh Cakes
Well, I guess it's confession time.
As you may have twigged at some point, I happen to be Welsh. Now during the course of the average Welsh person's life, they will consume an amount of Welsh Cakes somewhat akin to the size of the bailout the Government had to put into Lloyds TSB. Particularly around St David's Day, on 1 March, when gazillions of them appear in all sorts of places (for example, if we host any sort of meeting at work, out they come). It's our patriotic duty don'tcha know? Even the currant averse usually aren't permitted to miss out.
Now I do love a good Welsh Cake. There's a lovely little grocer shop by me which every now and again also sells these delicious little home made mini Welsh Cakes - soft and fluffy with just the right amount of caster sugar glistening on the outside. Cooked on a griddle so that there is a little crust on the outside. (And a well-used griddle is widely a family heirloom in Wales, lovingly handed down from one generation to the next).
I have never chanced my arm at making them myself. It's ridiculous perhaps, but for something so quick to make, I've never thought to do it. Neither my mum or nan ever cooked them as I grew up, and my nan's cast iron griddle did not receive the same love and attention as other griddles. Even now, I can see it in the garden at my mum's house, rusting away while it was propped up against the shed door, holding it in place. Criminal.
Anyway, today I decided to give them a go. But I also got to thinking 'Can you make them with any other dried fruit?', and then I thought, 'Why not?'.
So what started out as a learning experience also became something of an experiment as I decided to make Blueberry Welsh Cakes. This is what I did.
Blueberry Welsh Cakes (adapted from the Great British Book of Baking)
Ingredients (makes approx 24)
225g self raising flour
100g chilled diced unsalted butter
75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
40g dried blueberries
1 medium egg yolk
3 tbspns milk
You will need a 6cm round cutter.
First, soak the blueberries in a little hot water to soften them (I did this because they are bigger than currants and so a little drier, and as Welsh cakes cook so quickly I did not want big lumps of dry crusty berry). Once softened (after about 10 minutes) drain well and dry the fruit on some kitchen towel to get rid of the excess water.
Mix the egg and milk together in a small jug and put on one side.
Sift the flour into a bowl and then mix in the pinch of salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
Add the sugar and blueberries, and stir in. Add the egg and milk and using a palette knife, mix together to form a soft but not sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a depth of about 1cm.
Cut out circles from the dough to form the cakes. Keep going, re-rolling the trimmings if necessary, until all the dough is used.
Heat the griddle over a low-medium heat. Test cook one of the cakes by placing it on the griddle - each side should take about 2 minutes to cook to a nice dark golden colour, and the middle should be just cooked through (it will continue cooking once you remove the cakes from the heat, but this needs to be judged carefully as you don't want cakes that are undercooked, or overcooked and dry). Once you are happy with the temperature of the pan, you can start cooking the cakes in batches. So about 2 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the other.
Remove from the griddle and sprinkle both sides with some of the extra caster sugar.
These are best served warm from the pan.
I thought the blueberries worked pretty well in these. They aren't so sweet as the usual currants, and so you get the sharpness as a counterpoint to the sweet dough, but in a subtle way (I think I'd increase the blueberries to maybe 60g next time, as they were a bit on the scanty side). I did find it tricky to get my timing right cooking them though, and there were a few that came out too well done for my liking. They are so quick and easy to make, though, that I really don't know why I hadn't tried them before.