I have fond memories of these little pastries from my childhood. Mom would bake them in her electric frying pan. We would wait patiently by the kitchen counter for the first tender, sweet little cakes, and devour them with butter or jam. Welsh cakes are like a scone, flaky and tender; but they are cooked in a skillet, which gives them a crispy golden exterior. The dough goes together quickly, so you can make them for breakfast or a late afternoon snack (with tea, of course). An electric griddle or skillet with a temperature control makes easy work of producing your Welsh cakes. I used a well-seasoned cast-iron pan and found that I had to adjust the heat and move the cakes around a little to ensure even cooking. Do a test cake first (much like with pancakes) to determine the right level of heat. Sprinkle the finished cakes with a little sugar and eat them warm, with butter and sweet, summer fruit jam.
(makes about 18 small cakes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons cold lard, cut into 1/2-inch pieces *
1/3 cup currants
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup cold milk
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Blend the butter and lard into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the currants. Add the beaten egg and enough milk to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly and gently. Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds with a cookie or biscuit cutter. Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350F (or a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-low heat). Butter the surface lightly and cook the Welsh cakes for about 3 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown. They should be soft in the middle but not doughy. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with granulated or confectioner’s sugar. Serve warm. Once they are cool the cakes can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for several days, or frozen.
*If you prefer, use 8 tablespoons butter and omit the lard)
(adapted from “The Joy of Baking”)