Grandma’s Welsh Cakes

November 7, 2011

Grandmas Welsh Cakes 650

If you’ve read my “About” page then you know that my first name is Angharad. What you might not know is that “Angharad” is a Welsh name, (with a meaning that makes me blush) and that my Dad is Welsh, making me half English and half Welsh.

My grandparents lived in Wales my entire life and so I spent a great deal of time staying with them and running amok on the beach near their house. I’ll be going back to Wales in less than two weeks to visit and while my grandparents are no longer alive it means a lot to me to spend time in the place they called home.

I used to love the fact that you could see the sea from their balcony. My parents, sister and I spent countless days walking down to the beach with buckets and spades in the summer, playing in the rock pools and swimming in the cold sea. In the colder months we would rock climb for hours, mum and dad helping me take the bigger steps (I grew up with the nickname “little legs”), and watch the waves crash into the rocks as the tide came in.

I don’t remember my Grandma baking that much but one thing that stands out in my memory are her Welsh cakes. Welsh cakes are like small English scones, traditionally made on a bakestone. I asked my Dad if he had Grandma’s recipe a while ago and recently, as he and my mum were sorting through some things, he discovered this:

My Grandma’s original Welsh cakes recipe, written on the back of a cardboard tea box for my Mum. The note scrawled on the flip side brought tears to my eyes immediately.

In case you can’t make out the writing it says, “From Mum, with love. Remember, no currants for Angharad.”

I forgot that I used to hate (with quite a passion) any kind of dried fruit when I was little. I don’t remember my Grandma noting this fact about me but of course, as any loving relative would, she did, and enough so to write it as post-script to her recipe.

I don’t cook with lard these days, or margarine for that matter, but we always had lard in the fridge at home growing up. I didn’t cook much then but I did always use it to grease the pan for a fry-up. For the sake of my Grandma’s recipe I wanted to stay true to the original. That leftover lard is going to make killer pie crusts, I tell you what.

I added a couple of extra notes in the directions to help those unfamiliar with this kind of recipe and some additional notes at the bottom of the post for American readers.

WelshCakes

This recipe means a lot to me and I hope to be making it for my children and my grandchildren some day. I hope you’ll try it too.

Grandma’s Welsh Cakes

These little scone-like “cakes” are not overly sweet and despite my protestations as a little one, the currants add something really important – just a certain je ne sais quoi – some added sweetness. They really are delightful alone (with a cup of tea) but if you have a sweeter tooth, spread them with butter or jam.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz flour (1 cup plain/all purpose flour)
  • 8 oz self raising flour (1 cup self rising flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 oz margarine (1/4 cup)
  • 2 oz lard (1/4 cup)
  • 3 oz castor sugar (6 tbsp finely granulated sugar)
  • 2 oz currants (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp mixed spice or nutmeg (see recipe note, below)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • a little milk

Directions

  1. Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub the fat (lard and margarine) into the flour mixture with your fingers until it’s crumbly. Mix in the currants. Add the egg and mix into a stiff paste (as you would for short pastry). If it’s a little dry, add the splash of milk. You should have a soft dough, ready to roll out.
  2. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut into rounds using whatever tool you prefer (I used little mason jars!)
  3. Bake on a lightly greased griddle or thick-based frying pan over medium heat, for about 3 minutes a side, until they are golden-brown, crisp, and cooked right through.
  4. Serve with warm butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with a little more granulated sugar.

Some recipe notes:

– I have listed the British measurements first here, unlike my modus operandi. The American equivalents of measurements and/or ingredients are listed in parentheses.

– Self rising (or self raising) flour can be made at home with plain/all purpose flour by adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to every 1 cup (128g) of plain flour.

– “Mixed spice” is not the same as “all spice”. It’s similar to what Americans know as “pumpkin pie spice” which is what I actually used for this batch. You can see my post on how to make your own pumpkin pie spice here.

Enjoy!

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart) November 7, 2011 at 8:47 am

Remember, no currants for Angharad. Best. Ever. Lovely post, dear. Perfect, in fact.

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Imen McDonnell November 7, 2011 at 9:02 am

Gorgeous, gorgeous post Angharad. I’ve never had welsh cakes and they look and sound yum. You must be so excited to return to Wales. Safe journey….cherish your time. xx

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tina November 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

such a lovely story. i’m going to try making them!

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Jen abbott November 7, 2011 at 10:18 am

Love those surprises in hand-written recipes. Very sweet post.

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Kelli November 7, 2011 at 10:26 am

Tears. What a perfectly beautiful post.

I just went through my Mom’s things this past week. So emotional, especially her recipe box.

Glad you are taking a trip back home. Hope you have a wonderful time. Thank you for sharing yourself and recipes with us.

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shefzilla November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

My Mum “lived” in Wales during the war when the kids were shipped off from London. To this day she remembers with great love those days, and that place. It’s on my bucket list to visit, fo sho.

I’m gonna make these, and share them with my kids.

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Jen @ Jen and Company November 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Love the recipe. Love the story. Love the “no currants” And I really love the lard!

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hthrevr November 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

the note made me tear up too! there’s something so special about
grandmothers.

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Laurie Jesch-Kulseth @ Relishing It November 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm

What a beautiful post, Angharad! Just loved reading it so much. Also, want to make those delicious little cakes, margarine and all. Thanks for sharing.

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Kari @ bite-sized thoughts November 8, 2011 at 1:44 am

I feel so privileged to share in your recipe – and more than a little excited because my English streak (although I don’t have a Welsh one, and I live in Australia) remembers and loves these cakes, or at least a variation thereof. Thank you :)

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Alyssa November 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this story and recipe. The recipes of our grandmothers’ always hold such flavorful memories!

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Jen {The Wholehearted Life} November 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Beautiful post, Angharad! I have big fat nostalgia tears rolling down my cheeks (adorable cheeks in the pic btw!).

I’m mostly Welsh (little bit of Scots and English thrown in), grew up in a very Welsh community in WI, and was surrounded with all things Welsh when growing up…including Welsh Cakes made by my grandmother.

It was an annual tradition around Gymanfu Ganu time…we would dress up, go to church and sing Welsh hymnals; then my grandparents would host the after-party where everyone in town and the guest Conductor would convene for these cakes and conversation.

My grandmother is on the brink of passing away and I haven’t had these cakes in YEARS! I’m going to make them in honor of her and my heritage…thank you!

And I love the story behind this post…my grandmother gave me a box recently of all the scrips and scraps of things she saved from my years growing up…things I didn’t even remember I’d been involved in until I rifled through the box. She’s not a very expressive person but with that box, I knew just how much she really did love me.

And there go the tears again :).

Thanks, Angharad…I needed to read this.

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Angharad November 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I’m floored by the loveliness of all these comments, thank you all.

As I said on my Facebook page earlier, comments like all of these represent the real allure of food & food blogging for me: memories around food are so powerful and sharing them brings people together in ways I never expect and always love. Thank you!

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Claire November 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I forgot these even existed!

I remember making them on Guide/Girl Scout camp when I was about 11. We used to build a tiny fire under an empty catering size can of beans and use the top as the griddle. Always the best meal of camp.

Very sweet post, inspired to make my own grandmother’s baked treats…

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amy g November 9, 2011 at 7:38 am

Lovely! I printed the whole story -I usually just do the recipe and photos. You are so fortunate to have this from your grandmother! I’m going on retreat in a few weeks and these will be on the Sunday morning menu! Thank you, thank you -asg

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Kate November 9, 2011 at 9:52 am

I love posts like these. The memories, the nostalgia, and having those treasured pieces of the past, like your Grandmother’s writing on the box. I have many of these myself, recipes written by my Mom and Grandma, ones I likely will never make but I can’t bear to part with them.

Having this bit of your past is a lovely, lovely thing. Thank you for sharing it.

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brandi November 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

this is such a precious post, and the cakes look perfect.

i don’t cook with lard either, but some recipes just shouldn’t ever be changed.

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Stacy November 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

Cannot wait to try these, half for the authentic yummy recipe and half for the nostalgia factor. Grandparents were so hugely influential in our lives too and from his Grandma/Grandpa’s dining chairs to the copy of our church’s cookbook from the early 70’s from my Grandma’s bookshelf now on mine — it’s all proof of who we became. Love. It.

Best –
sp

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Colin December 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I am so happy I’ve found your website! I had a British grandmother and have very few of her recipes, but many wonderful memories. I live in Ohio, in the US and will frequent your recipes!

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Sharon December 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Beautiful post. My dad’s family is from Wales, and i have been blessed to have been able to travel there and spend time getting to know my Welsh kin, and admiring the most lovely country I have ever seen. Welsh cakes are such a happy memory of time there, and I am definitely going to make your grandmother’s recipe. thank you so much for sharing your story and your recipe! I live in Missouri, USA, but a big part of my heart is in beautiful Wales…

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Angharad December 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for sharing such a lovely comment. It’s so nice to hear from others with Welsh heritage – it really is a beautiful country! I hope you love the Welsh Cakes as much as we did…

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Robbie Sutton January 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Gosh it is so nice to find this recipe. They look exactly like the ones an old neighbour made for me in Australia. Thanks!

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Caroline January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Dear Angharad,
Just read your recipe for Welsh cakes (I live in Chepstow South Wales UK). Noticed you had put 8oz plain flour and 8oz self-raising flour for the ingredients; your Grandma wrote if using 8oz plain flour, add baking powder OR use 8oz self-raising instead (just like shortcrust pastry).
I use my Great-Grandma’s recipe…my grandchildren love my Welsh cakes too!

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Christine January 29, 2012 at 1:04 am

I enjoyed reading your post, and plan to make these little cakes soon. Loved the hand written recipe from your grandma.

Mixed spice appears to similar to “koekkruiden” or “speculaaskruiden” that we use in the Netherlands for making cookies etc.

Thank you for sharing!

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Sonja March 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I loved your post about Welsh Cakes. I lived in Wales for a year doing study abroad in college and fell in love with Wales and Welsh Cakes.

Have you managed to find currants in the U.S.? I’ve wanted to make Welsh Cakes, but was never sure of how to find currants or if I could substitute with raisins. It’s good to know that they can be made without the currants, but as an adult, that’s my favorite part. I’m in Chicago, so it certainly seems somewhere in this big city should have currants.

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Angharad March 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Hi Sonja, so cool to hear from someone in the U.S. who has lived in Wales! I’d love to know where you were based. In my mind currants and raisins are interchangeable so go ahead and use raisins!

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Angharad Evans September 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I came across your site through your ‘lavender tea cake’ what a beautiful recipe cant wait to try it! and now this!

it was only a few weeks ago I was in Wales with my Nain, and she showed me how to her version of welsh cakes! Such a simple little event but its something I know ill always remember and think about when I make them.

(Its funny your Grandmas recipe not looks just like the one my Nain has pinned on her cupboard door) The only differences in the recipe is 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice and 3ozs Currants!

Thanks for Sharing! (ill be forwarding you website to my sister Rhian) x

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Peter Godfrey December 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

Where by is that beach? Are the pictures on N Wales or S? Is there a difference in the recipe?

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Angharad December 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hi Peter,
The beach is in Porthcawl, south wales. By your question I think you mean are there different Welsh cakes recipes in the north and south? That I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for! I only know my grandma’s…

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Claire March 12, 2013 at 1:44 am

thanks so much for sharing this. I grew up with my nan and her mum, who was forever making welshcakes. I have tried other recipes but none came anywhere close to that taste of my childhood. I want to make them as I had them so my little boys can know some of their welsh heritage. I long for her recipe, but she couldn’t write and I was too young when she died to think of the importance of writing it myself. I think these are close as she came from Port Talbot and always spoke of Porthcawl. She did always wrap hers in a tea towel so they kept on cooking. Then stored them with a slice of bread!

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Patricia May 29, 2013 at 11:18 am

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this post. My grandmother had Welsh in her heritage and the picture of your grandmother reminded me so much of her that it brought tears to my eyes. The handwriting on the recipe also looks like my grandmother’s as I have a recipe from her for Rhubarb Custard Pie (she made a lot of pies). I have never been across the “big pond” and originally from Ohio, USA but going to both Wales and Germany are on my bucket list (other side of my heritage is from Germany). I will be trying these when my daughter gets home as she loves an afternoon tea, unless she makes her fabulously light and delicate scones. Or perhaps we will have both! Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of these things. You’ve brought back some really fond memories for me this morning!

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liz June 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm

lovely!!!!! I am from Mumbles, just outside Swansea South Wales and will be using this fab recipe to enter the baking competition in the Gower show in August so fingers crossed I will do a good job xxx

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Angharad July 1, 2013 at 11:40 am

Wow, Liz, that’s great! You’ll have to let me know how you get on. My parents live in Llanharan and I can’t wait to tell my Dad about this.

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Elizabeth Glachan September 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hello Angharad, I live on the Northern Coast of New South Wales, Australia. My Mum recently passed away and my sister sent the family a recipe for Welsh Cakes which Mum used to make for us. We had a family of seven children, so Mum did quite a lot of baking over the years. Your recipe is slightly different from the one my sister has sent, I think my brother has Mum’s original recipe. I do remember her using lard when I was very little. I’ve got all the ingredients together and making them today. I loved Welsh Cakes with butter….yum! Thankyou for sharing your family recipe and the walk down memory lane.

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Elizabeth Glachan September 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Hello Angharad, I live on the Northern Coast of New South Wales, Australia. My Mum recently passed away and my sister sent the family a recipe for Welsh Cakes which Mum used to make for us. We had a family of seven children, so Mum did quite a lot of baking over the years. Your recipe is slightly different from the one my sister has sent, I think my brother has Mum’s original recipe. Am giving it a go today.

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Sandria December 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Just took these off the griddle. Excellent!

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heidi bennett February 25, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I live 10 mins from Porthcawl in Bridgend and run through rest bay (can tell from the photo – it hasn’t changed too much) 3 times a week.. beautiful place. I am going to use your grandmas recipe and my son and I are going to make some and enter our local schools ‘welsh cake’ competition for the Eisteddfod… I have even bought a dragon shaper!

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Angharad February 27, 2014 at 11:43 am

Heidi, what a lovely comment! I love hearing from people living nearby who find this recipe. I have such fond memories of Rest Bay – lucky you that you get to run there! Please let me know how you and your son get on in the competition! Hope you enjoy making them together.

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Marion L Stapleton Harley December 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Hi. My husband is Welsh & for years he & I have tried Welsh Cakes from various places in the hope we found some as good as his Mother used to make. We have never found any from whatsoever source. Neil never cooks but a week ago asked me to look up a recipe for Welsh Cakes. I found this one from Angharad – what a lovely name – giving us the one her Grandma made. Neil made his venture into the world of cooking last weekend when a dear friend visited our cottage in north Herefordshire. Well! An outstanding success. They were wonderful & have kept well – the few that remain uneaten. We need look no further find Welsh Cakes like those his Mother made. Thank you Angharad.

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Marion L Stapleton Harley December 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Hi. My husband is Welsh & for years we have tried to obtain Welsh Cakes as good as his Mother used to make. We never have, regardless from where we have tried in Wales & England. He never cooks, apart from making a very good fried breakfast. Last week he asked me to find a recipe for Welsh Cakes & I found this one from Angharad handed down from her Grandma. Neil ventured into the world of cooking last weekend. The resulting Welsh Cakes were marvellous. The few remaining are storing well in a biscuit container. We need search no further to find Welsh Cakes as good as his Mother made. Thank you Angharad for sharingthe recipe from your Grandma. Marion.

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