Whether guests have joined us for a personalised AGA cookery class or simply ‘escaped to the pantry’ for some time out in the Dorset countryside, they all seem to fall in love with the flexibility that the AGA simmering plate offers. Even if you prefer a conventional stove, this simple recipe, which we have developed to celebrate the ‘Patron Saint of Wales’, is easy to replicate at home using a heavy based frying pan or a griddle.
Saint David’s Day is held on the 1st March, which falls on a Sunday this year. We suggest that you either make these savoury cakes for a lazy brunch and serve with wilted spinach topped with a poached egg or for a a warming high tea with lots of butter.
For our recipe, to make a eight Welsh cakes using a 7.5 cm (3″), we used…
A 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
75g (3oz) butter cut into cubes
50g (2 oz) grated caerphilly or Welsh style cheddar such as y fenni (omit the mustard powder if you are lucky enough to find this variety of cheese)
1 small leek, washed thoroughly and chopped finely – cooked slowly in a knob of butter and a tablespoon of oil until soft but not coloured.
1 medium free range egg – beaten together
1 tablespoon milk if necessary
First of all prepare the leek and set aside to cool. Measure the flour, mustard powder and butter into a bowl and rub together to form a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. Add the grated cheese. Alternatively combine together in a food processor and mix together.
Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in a bowl. Add the cooled leeks and combine. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the beaten egg. Mix together to form a stiff dough, adding the milk if necessary.
Preheat your lightly greased griddle on the AGA simmering plate or conventional hob.
Roll the dough out on to a floured board to a thickness of 1 cm (1/4 inch) and stamp into rounds. Cook in batches on the griddle, turning often to ensure even cooking.
Enjoy warm with herb butter and a pot of tea OR serve for brunch with a poached egg and wilted spinach or purple sprouting broccoli.
Take care cutting out the savoury cakes, the high quantity of fats will make the dough sticky but do not be tempted to add too much extra flour as this will make them dry when cooked.
You can bake the Welsh cakes directly on to the AGA simmering plate or use bake-o-glide, however, we find that the a griddle helps to diffuse the heat so that the cakes do not cook too quickly and ensures even cooking. If you do not have a griddle use a heavy based non-stick frying pan.
Welsh cakes are best eaten on the same day as you make them, or freeze for another day. Take care when cooking as the addition of cheese make the cakes brown quite quickly. You will need to turn them regularly to ensure even browning. If you have an AGA you may decide to transfer them to a baking tray and slide them on to the fourth runner of the roasting oven for the last few minutes of cooking.
If you prefer traditional, sweet Welsh cakes then take a look at our recipe.
We love growing fresh herbs from seed and then gathering these from the walled garden and potager to snip straight into a seasonal recipe. At the moment we have chervil that has over wintered very successfully under the shelter of the red brick wall, as well as a little Italian, flat leaved parsley under the kitchen window. Combine these herbs in equal measure with a few chives, that are just peeking through and add to softened butter that has been allowed to reach room temperature. Taste for seasoning and then roll in a piece of grease proof paper to store in the ‘fridge for up to a week, or freeze for three months.
If you have the time and some double cream that is approaching its ‘use by date’ then to save wasting it, by simply over process in your stand mixer or food processor until the buttermilk is separated and the butter fat has come together in a mass. it will look a little like scrambled eggs. If you are planning to store the butter, it will need washing well in ice cold water so that all of the buttermilk is removed. Taste and season with freshly ground sea salt.
Use the buttermilk within 24 hours and make scones, pancakes or muffins.