Sunday, March 6, 2011

Welsh Cakes

I love the month of March--St. Patrick's Day, the beginning of Spring, this year, Ash Wednesday and Mardi Gras and now I've added, St. David's Day--Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant, The Feast of Saint David.  Saint David is the patron saint of Wales and falls every year on March 1st, in remembrance of his death  in 589.  However, it wasn't until the 18th century that Wales declared it a national holiday.  I'm proud to say that the United States recognized it as a national day of the Welsh in 2003, and displayed the red, green and white colors of Wales on the Empire State Building in honor of Saint David.

In Wales, on this day, the people wear either a leek or a daffodil on their lapel.  The symbolism of the leek relates to the Welsh wearing one to distinguish each other from the Anglo-Saxon enemy.  Although, I love leeks, I think the wearing of a daffodil on my lapel would be more appealing!  In the poem, Armes Prydain, the anonymous author prophesies that the Cymry (the Welsh people) "will unite and join an alliance of fellow Celts to repel Anglo-Saxon--A lluman glan Dewi a ddyrchatant (And they will raise the pure banner of David.)"

I found this recipe for Welsh Cakes on the King Arthur website and after reading the ingredients and directions, I thought, "they remind me of a cross between a scone and an English muffin."  Two of my favorite things to bake in the morning.

As Spring unfolds with new beginnings, let's remember all the special people in our lives that have touched us.  On March 1st, one of Kelly's dearest friends passed away from breast cancer.

Karen was diagnosed just a little over a year ago and I remember, all to well, the call from Kelly telling me.  The last time I saw Karen was at Kelly's wedding in May, 2006.  She and Kelly had been best friends since 1994, when Kelly moved back to California after graduating from Mount Holyoke.  Karen wrote a brilliant tribute to Kelly last year on her blog, "Lil Hateful," for her memorial and I wish I had the words to return the gesture--that was Kelly's department.  Simply I will say, two beautiful women taken too early, but together again.  My thoughts and prayers go with her family, knowing how hard this is to understand--love you, Kare Bear.

Welsh Cakes

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats or diced
3/4 to 1 cup currants
2 large eggs with enough milk to yield 3/4 cup liquid

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Work in the butter until the mixture is fairly evenly crumbly; a few large pieces of butter can remain.  I like to do these two steps in my food processor, then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.

I measured the currants into a small pan and just barely covered them with orange juice. 

I find plumping dry fruit for recipes prevents them from drying too hard during baking.  Let cool slightly before adding to the flour/butter mixture.

Add the milk/egg mixture, mixing until everything is moistened.  

Turn the sticky dough out onto a well-floured work surface and divide in half.  Shape each half into a thick, 4" to 5" disc.  Cover one of the discs with plastic and refrigerate.  Leave the other on the floured work surface.

Roll the soft dough into a 9 1/2" circle; it should be about 1/4-inch thick.  Be sure to life up the dough and flour underneath it as you roll, so it doesn't stick.

Use a 2 1/2" to 3 1/2" biscuit or other round cutter, cut the dough into circles.  Gather the scraps, cutting until you've used all the dough.

Heat an ungreased skillet over low-medium heat; an electric frying pan or skillet, set at 325F-degrees works well.  I used my All-Clad griddle and set the burner(s) on medium/low.

Fry the cakes for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side, until they're golden brown and cooked all the way through.  It best to fry one sample cake first, to see if your pan is the right temperature.

Transfer the fried cakes to a rack to cool.

Repeat with the refrigerated dough.  Cut the circles, then let them warm at room temperature for about 30 minutes before frying.

Dust the finished cakes with cinnamon-sugar or superfine sugar; or split them, and spread with jam.  A pot of tea is the perfect accompaniment.  Yield: about 2 dozen 2 3/4" cakes. Enjoy!

A couple of years ago, I started donating to the Vera Bradley Breast Cancer Foundation, when Kelly was first diagnosed.  Unlike some charities, 100-percent of your donation goes to research, none to administering the foundation. This has become important to me--finding a cure to this disease that has taken so many woman from their families, too soon.  If you would like to learn more about the Vera Bradley Breast Cancer Foundation, go to their website. 



  1. Today I was looking for papers to do taxes in our firesafe box and I randomly came across a card Kelly had made with you with a pink ribbon on front thanking us for donating to the 3-day Avon walk she did long before she and Karen were diagnosed. The last picture on your blog was at y2k when Kelly and Karen stayed at my apartment in NYC for the millenium. Will try to remember the good times when sad at their leaving this world too soon.

  2. i will light a candle in honor of her this evening.

  3. I was so sorry and saddened to hear about Karen. I went back to Karen's blog and read again her tribute to Kelly. At the end of the writing, Karen wrote: "I'm alone without you, but together with you always. I miss you." I cried then as I do now at such a poignant statement. This insidious disease, breast cancer, has taken so many young women from their families too soon and I pray for a cure.