Baby Cakes (Welsh Cakes)
Welsh Cakes. Baby Cakes. My Sunday school childhood cakes. Oh how I love these little mischievous hybrid pancake scones.
Welsh cakes are a Welsh tradition (obviously) and are often served with tea, or open faced with butter and jam. I have sweet memories of Welsh cakes. It’s amazing how one memory can shape your whole Sunday school experience. I remember the felt cutouts of Jesus and Mary and the Manger. And, for some reason, that felt figures were not very diverse. And that felt board was used for all Bible stories.
“So David picked up his slingshot…” Mrs. Hail, with her tight blonde curls and milky, sweet voice held the felt “David” in her hand. She always painted her nails bubblegum pink.
“That’s Joseph. Not David.” Someone (who?) piped up.
“Joseph and David look alike…so Joseph, I mean, ahem, David went to meet Goliath…” She had the best smirk.
“But he’s not picking up his slingshot. Can you make him?”
“Yes of course, okay, here we go, bending down to pick up—”
“He fell over.” Someone (who?) snickered.
“Okay, he did fall over. So! Let’s go have some Welsh cakes!”
Welsh cakes…what were those? The little heather green table that came up to my hips, held a plate of Welsh cakes, sitting on a sheet of once used wax paper.
“Daniel’s mom made the Welsh cakes. Make sure to thank her after Sunday school!” Mrs. Hail smiled, resting her fingertips against her forearms. Sighing, she went to clean up the scattered felt figures.
I picked up the little disc of dough and held it in my hand. Of course, being a child, it wasn’t long before I was nibbling the edges and savouring the exotic Welshness. Who was Welsh? How did he make these cakes? These weren’t cakes.
Immediately after Sunday school, I went and found Danny’s mom and with a burst of courage, I asked her how she made the Welsh cakes and if I could have the recipe.
“Wow, you want the recipe? Of course!” She smelled unlike my mother, who was always bathed in glorious flower and honey smells. Danny’s mom was a Baby Soft kind of lady.
“I wear Baby Soft too! My mum got me a bottle for my 7th birthday.” My first bottle of something smelly. I’m pretty sure Danny’s mom wore Vanilla Fields or some other brand of drug store perfume. Either way, she didn’t smell like my mum. And apparently, wearing Baby Soft was an insult if you were Danny’s mother.
Next Sunday, I received that recipe and tucked it away into my keepsake drawer. I never did make those glorious Welsh cakes. Neither did Danny’s mom. Welsh cakes were apparently a one time treat. I kept hoping for them, but we always had animal crackers after that. Blah.
Mrs. Hail is still a sweet memory of pink fingernails and blonde curls. About 5 years after that Sunday school class, she died from breast cancer. So I guess Welsh cakes commemorate the start of real life, of asking for things and the forming of opinions about people and thinking there must be a better way to tell Bible stories.
But alas, here they are. I have made them! If you haven’t tried them, make them. They are slightly sweet, satisfying and adorable.
My adapted recipe for:
Welsh Cakes, aka Baby Cakes.
- 1/2 cup oat flour (gluten free and cheaper than spelt)
- 1 1/2 cups spelt flour (if you must, you can use 2 cups of white flour)
- 1/2 cup sugar (I used a little under half a cup)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup chopped raisins (or currants)
- 1 tbsp. grated orange rind
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup almond milk
In a large bowl, combine both flours and mix well. Add sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in raisins and grated rind.
Beat egg with a fork. Add almond milk. Slowly add liquid into dry mixture, stirring with wooden spoon. Use your hands to gently blend dough together.
Flour clean surface and roll out dough to 2/3 cm thick. Cut into rounds with biscuit cutter.
Heat large frying pan on medium heat, until water sizzles, but doesn’t bounce around. Place baby cakes onto ungreased pan. Brown both sides of cakes, being careful not to burn, but also to cook the insides.
Cool on cookie rack. Serve with butter, jam, cinnamon or castor sugar!