Wales has a rich culinary tradition. If you’d like to try baking a traditional cake recipe from Wales, try one of our favourites – below.
About Welsh baking
Historically, the country’s main occupations – agriculture and mining – meant that there were a lot of famished Welsh men arriving home at the end of the day. This produced a culinary tradition that included hearty breads, cheese and stews. On the coast, fishermen and cockle-pickers brought in plenty of seafood, and one famous regional treat was ‘Laverbread’ – seaweed blended with oats and formed into patties. Baking was also very important.
Wales became famous for its salty butter, and the leftover buttermilk was often used by farmers’ wives in their baking. The unique ‘bakestone’, or griddle, was used in many households. It was a cast iron hotplate that could be used to cook Welsh Cakes (below), Pancakes, bread and oatcakes.
Teisen Fel – Honey Cake
When sugar was an expensive import, honey was commonly used in home baking. This simple cake is flavoured with the honey, so use an interesting or Welsh variety if you can find one. The sprinkling of nuts is optional and not traditional.
- 480g (8 fl oz or 250ml) honey
- 75g (3oz) unsalted butter
- 350g 12 oz self-raising flour
- 3 eggs
- 45ml (3 tbsp) milk
- Zest of half a lemon
- Optional: flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts, to sprinkle over the top
Put the honey and butter into a saucepan and warm gently until they are melted together. Cool for five minutes. In a small bowl or jug, beat the eggs and milk, then whisk in the melted butter and honey. In another, larger, bowl, sift the flour and sprinkle over the lemon zest. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to gradually stir in the flour, until you have a smooth batter.
Spoon the cake batter into a greased and lined, 9” cake tin, and if you like, sprinkle the top of the cake mix with almonds or hazelnuts (which are more traditional to Wales). Bake at 160 degrees C, gas mark 3 for 60-80 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out cleanly. If you like, drizzle extra honey over the cake when it comes out of the oven. Cool slightly before serving.
The First Branch of the W.I. started in Wales, and this recipe is an old-fashioned favourite. Welsh nans kept cast iron griddles alongside the cooker, ready to brown a batch of Welsh cakes at short notice.
- 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
- 75g (3oz) caster sugar
- 110g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 75g (3oz) sultanas
- Pinch of salt
Weigh out the flour and rub in the fat using your fingers, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, salt, and sultanas.
Add a splash of milk at a time until the mixture begins to form a soft dough – stop as soon as it comes together, and knead to incorporate all of the flour.
Roll out the dough to about 3/4cm thick and use a fluted round cutter to make rounds. Preheat the griddle or cast iron pan on a medium-high flame, and cook a few of the Welsh cakes at a time, flipping them after about 5 minutes. When cooked they will be golden brown.