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Best Snacks From the UK: Welsh Cakes and Rock Cookies
Origin of the Welsh Cake or Rock Cake
Welsh cakes are cookies that are very like scones and have also been known as "bakestones" in Wales, coming from the cooking technique used. This snack or dessert was cooked on what was called a "bakestone", which was a cast iron griddle or a large flat stone set atop a cooking fire.
Originally cooked on a griddle or flat stone over an open fire, these cookies have been popular since the 19th century in Wales, a small country just west of England. They are a big hit with visitors at various church fairs and farmers markets, but are just as popular at high tea.
Welsh cakes are made from flour, butter, eggs, and sugar, with the addition of currants, raisins or both. They can be prepared as small drop cookies in the oven, or as circular cutouts in a greased cast iron skillet. They are both delicious, and you can add any spices you like, or use other dried fruits.
Dried cranberries are very good in them, as are dried cherries. If you use artificial sugar, decrease the baking time by about ¼. There are so many variations possible, that I try something new each time I make them.
He that would be a leader must be a bridge.— Old Welsh Proverb
Welsh Cakes, Rock Cakes, or Scotch Rocks
- 1 cup flour
- 1 stick butter (some cooks still use lard)
- ½ cup sugar (white sugar, but light brown sugar is also nice, or a combination of the two)
- 2-3 oz. milk
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon mixed spices if desired
- 1 egg (You may substitute 1-2 tablespoons of apricot jam for the egg if you wish.)
- ¼ cup raisins or currants
- Honey if desired, to drizzle on top.
- Cream the sugar and butter together.
- Separately, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices
- Combine both mixtures and mix together well.
- Beat the egg separately until light yellow and add to the mix. Stir well.
- Add enough milk to moisten and make a smooth mixture. Let dough rest a few minutes.
- Roll the dough out on a floured board to about ½ inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter or the mouth of a clean drinking glass.
- Cook the rounds on in a greased cast iron skillet or on a greased griddle for 3 minutes on each side, until a golden brown
- Cool on a cooling rack and sprinkle with sugar, and spices if desired. Drizzle with honey if you'd like.
If you would like to make drop cookies and bake them in the oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake on a greased cookie sheet for approximately 8 - 12 minutes, until golden brown.
Welsh cakes can be served hot, topped with clotted cream, crème fraiche, or whipped cream, or cold and dusted with confectioner's sugar and cinnamon.
These classic cookies are often served on Saint David's Day, every March 1, when celebrants parade and raise red and yellow banners in honor of the pilgrimage he made all the way to Jerusalem, possibly as early as the 7th century.
When I make this treat, I prepare several variations: cinnamon and nutmeg dded to the the mix, sometimes just a little ginger or some grated lemon rind, sometimes candied fruit as is used in a fruitcake, sometimes some broken pecans. They are all good.
These treats can also be eaten like scones, split and spread with jam and/or butter and served with hot tea.
Gentle child, slumber in peace;
Dragons and centaurs will guard your sleep.
Stars in heaven shining oh so bright --
There will be your guiding light.— Old Welsh Blessing
Clotted Cream and Creme Fraiche for the Cookies
- 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 c. whipping cream
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- Combine all ingredients and do NOT refrigerate. Set bowl on the counter for 8 hours or more and allowing it to clot (become thick).
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Sugar to taste
- Combine all ingredients, set on counter to clot and thicken.
- Store covered in refrigerator after thickening.
- 1 cup whipping cream warmed to room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon buttermilk warmed to room temperature
- Using a clean glass jar with a lid, place the whipping cream and buttermilk inside and cover securely.
- Shake the jar for 15 seconds.
- Set the jar on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours until thick (stir once or twice).
- Stir your thickened creme fraiche well and refrigerate it for 6 hours or overnight before serving. Keep it covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.