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Wonderful Welsh cakes

Welsh  Cakes I don’t know what the weather has been like in your neck of the woods but after a glorious week of sunshine, it rained most of the weekend. Ideal weather for some baking (and eating)!  I keep a box in which I throw recipes I come across that are interesting and that I might want to try.  The other day I was rummaging through it and I found a handwritten recipe for Welsh cakes which was handed down to me by one of my former work colleagues.  She is Welsh and whenever she used to go to Wales for a visit her mother would make a batch of these babies for the office and that is how I discovered them.  Surprisingly I had never tried to make them so this weekend I got the flour, sugar and butter out and I gave it a go, much to the delight of my husband.

The best way to describe Welsh cakes is to say that they are the size of a cookie, but thicker and consistency wise they are in between a pancake and a scone.  Traditionally they contain spice (cinnamon or mixed spice) and raisins.  It is a very simple dough to make but what takes some time is baking them: they are cooked on a griddle (or in a pan if you don’t have a griddle).  They are not overly sweet; it is the powdered sugar at the end that gives them a sweet touch.

The recipe below makes 30 to 40 of them (depending on their size) and they keep a couple of days in an airtight container.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams of self raising flour
  • 80 grams of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (you can also use mixed spice)
  • 300 grams of butter
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  • 150 grams of raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of milk (any kind – full fat, semi skimmed or skimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons of normal flour

Instructions

Welsh Cakes

  • Mix the self raising flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
  • Cut 250 grams of butter into 1-2 cm squares.
  • Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use your hands to rub the flour and butter together until you get small crumbs. This is the same technique that is used to make crumble topping, but here you need to ensure that the crumbs are quite small.
  • Add the raisins and mix.
  • Crack open the egg in a small bowl and beat it slightly till the yolk and white is combined and then incorporate the egg into the dough.  At this point you will already notice that the dough will come together but it will need some additional moisture.
  • Of the two tablespoons of milk add one and work the dough some more, if the dough is still a bit too dry or not all the flour is incorporated, add the second tablespoon of milk.  At this point you’ll obtain a cookie like dough, which is slightly dry and will crack easily: don’t worry this is the way it should be.  Once the dough has come together, it is not necessary to knead it any further.
  • To make the roll out process easier, cut the dough in three equal parts.
  • Put some of the normal flour on a clean kitchen surface and put some on your rolling pin.  Roll out the dough until it is about 1 cm thick.
  • Take a cookie cutter and cut out shapes.  Repeat this until you have used all the dough.
  • Put a pan on medium heat and let a little bit of butter melt in the pan (like maybe 15 grams of butter).  Don’t use too much butter, the goal is merely to grease the pan and add some flavor to the cakes.
  • Once the butter is melted you put in a batch of Welsh cakes and fry/cook/bake them for 3 minutes each side.  You will see that after 3 minutes they will have a nice brown crust and then you flip them over.  Don’t be tempted to cook them longer as they will burn and turn out dry.  Ideally they should still be a bit moist in the center.  If you want to do a test run, you start out with one cake and see how it goes.
  • Let them cool down and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I hope you enjoy these cakes as much as we did.

Let’s eat!

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Crunchy apple tartelettes

Processed with MoldivI don’t think there is an original recipe for apple tart.  Everyone’s recipe is slightly different and has often been handed down to them by their mother or grandmother.  Depending on the choice of apple, the pastry and the flavorings (cinnamon, vanilla extract, lemon zest, hazelnut cream) the end result will vary.

I love to use puff pastry because of its crunch and when it comes to the apples I choose the sweetest variety on hand.  Making the pastry yourself is an option, but it is such a pain that I always use the store-bought version which works perfectly.  I love making small, almost cookie size, apple tartelettes as it accentuates the crunch of the pasty against its sweet filing.

Ingredients

For the compote:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

For the tartelettes (makes about 10 tartelettes):

  • 2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry (about 230 grams per sheet, ready rolled out)
  • 4 sweet apples (I use Jona Gold apples)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar per tartelette
  • 1 tablespoon of apricot jam
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • 1 egg

Instructions

Compote

  • Peel, core and finely dice the two apples.
  • Take a large saucepan and add the apples, sugar, water and cinnamon.
  • Stir to combine all ingredients.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down to medium heat, let simmer for approximately 15 minutes, during this time the apples will soften and the liquid will thicken to a syrup like consistency.
  • Let the mixture cool down.
  • Blend the mixture till smooth.

Tartelettes

  • Peel the apples. Cut them in half and take out the core.  Then slice the apples (medium thickness) into half moon shapes.  If you notice that they are too big in comparison to the circles you’ve cut (see further) you can half them.  Take into account that as the apples will bake in the oven the slices will shrink slightly.
  • Take a sheet of puff pastry. Leave the second sheet in the fridge; it is easier to work with the pastry when it is cold.  Only take it out when you are going to make the tartelettes.
  • From each sheet of pastry, cut out 5 circles of 12 cm. I have a cookie cutter of this shape, if you don’t, you can use a small plate and cut around the plate.  The size might be a bit different, so you might not end up with 10 tartelettes.
  • On each circle of pastry spread out 1 tablespoon of compote, leave about a cm between the compote and the edge.
  • On top of this arrange the apple slices in a circle.
  • Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on the apples.
  • Roll up the edge of the pastry to ‘close up’ the apple tart to ensure it holds the filling. If you feel like it you can pinch the pastry all around so you get a nice shape.
  • Put the egg in a bowl and whisk it. With a small brush put some egg wash all around the edges of the folded puff pastry, this will ensure the pastry turns a nice golden color when it bakes.  For decorative purposes you can sprinkle some sugar on the egg wash (and even some toasted almond flakes for extra crunch).
  • Put them in a preheated oven of 150°C for about 45 minutes. It is important to bake the tartelettes slow so the apples cook all the way through.
  • Once the tartelettes are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool down.
  • Mix the apricot jam and the water and brush a thin layer of this paste all over the tartelette (over the filling and the edges).  This will give it a nice shine.

If you prefer making the pie-size version of this apple tart, which takes less time and is as delicious, you just need one sheet of puff pastry and fill it with the compote and apples as per the instructions above.

Let’s eat!

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