Sunday, January 24, 2016

WELSH CAKES and the WISE WOMEN

Join Mystery Lovers' Kitchen in welcoming guest Cathy Ace, who writes two delightful mystery series (I've read them!). She was born in Wales, so this recipe is as authentic as it gets.

Thanks for having me along today, ladies. I’m delighted to have the chance to share a recipe that’s been in my family for generations. Welsh cakes are traditional tea-time treats in Wales, and every home will have its own recipe for ‘the perfect Welsh cakes’. (Everyone swears theirs are the best!) With that in mind, I’ll mention some alternative choices up-front: I use currants whereas some will prefer sultanas – if that’s a switch you choose to make, don’t add the sultanas until after you’ve rubbed the flour, salt and sugar to the breadcrumb stage…sultanas will squish; also, I use all butter, while I know many people (my mother included) prefer to use all cooking margarine, or half and half; finally, some will use the same amount of sugar as butter, but I find this too sweet, hence the slightly reduced amount.



Ingredients:

lb all-purpose flour
7 ozs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
6 ozs currants
7 ounces chilled, cubed butter (I prefer slightly salted)
1 medium egg
Milk (as necessary)
Flour for rolling out
(Makes about 40 cakes, using 2 inch-diameter cutter)

Equipment:

Bakestone (this is a large, flat disk made of cast iron – you’ll find most Welsh households have one. It’s placed directly on the heat. When I migrated to Canada I carried mine in my suitcase – it takes a lot to separate a Welshwoman from her bakestone!)
Alternatively – cast iron griddle or cast iron pan
Fork
Cutting ring – your choice of diameter – I used 2 inches, fluted edge is traditional
Rolling pin
Metal spatula/slice for flipping while cooking

Method:

1) Bring bakestone/griddle to high heat, then turn down to low – heat needs to be constant when you’re cooking

2) Mix flour, salt, sugar and currents together



3) Rub butter into the mixture until you achieve a breadcrumb-like consistency
4) Make a well, crack in your egg




5) With a fork, whisk the mixture into the egg, adding milk as you go to produce a dry-ish mix that just hold and squashes together




6) Place in a mound on a floured surface, roll out to about one quarter of an inch thick
7) Cut rounds and place them on a large, cold plate



8) Put one cake on your griddle to test temperature – the heat needs to brown the cake without burning it. You flip it over just once, then cook until it’s no longer squishy – meaning the center has cooked. This test allows you to work out temperature and timing. Usually the first one doesn’t work out too well, which is why you try just one, rather than loading the griddle.

9) Load the bakestone/griddle and turn cakes just once.



10) Allow to cool.
11) To be served cold, without butter, jam, or anything at all – they are perfect just as they are!



Either store in an airtight container for a week, or freeze (for up to three months) and allow to thaw naturally.


I'm delighted to offer a giveaway--a copy of The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer. Leave a comment below and I'll choose one winner (randomly!). US and Canadian comments welcome!


ABOUT THE BOOK: In the second WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery, THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER, Henry, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth, is getting married. One of the troupe of Morris dancers due to lead the duke and his freshly-minted duchess from the church to their stately home has disappeared, threatening this critical (to the local community) Welsh wedding tradition. The four women of the WISE Enquiries Agency – one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English, hence the acronym, who are softly-boiled but utterly professional private investigators working out of a converted barn on the spectacular Chellingworth estate in Powys, Wales – are aided and abetted by Althea Twyst, the dowager duchess, as they investigate the case and try to save the day. As a part of the wedding festivities the Young Wives’ Group in the village of Anwen-by-Wye, led by the indomitable Marjorie Pritchard, have to produce a couple of thousand Welsh cakes. Marjorie’s militaristic planning of the task is quite spectacular! 


This charming sequel to The Case of the Dotty Dowager will delight M.C. Beaton and Jeanne M. Dams readers as the lively ladies use their individual talents to track down their quarry.” Library Journal, January 2016. The book is released in February 2016, and can now be ordered at your local bookstore, online, or at your local library. (NOTE: In April 2016, Cait Morgan Mystery #7, THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE, is published.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cathy Ace was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, and worked in marketing communications for decades across Europe. Having migrated to Canada in 2000, she now lives in beautiful British Columbia, where her ever-supportive husband (and two chocolate Labradors) ensure she’s able to write full-time. Cathy writes two series of mystery books: the Cait Morgan Mysteries, and the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. Her fourth Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair, won the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery.


You can find out more about Cathy and both her series of traditional, cozy mysteries at her website (and sign up for her newsletter on the homepage) at: http://cathyace.com/
Follow Cathy on Twitter: @AceCathy


93 comments:

  1. The Welsh cakes look yummy! Thank you for the recipe.

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    1. You're welcome, Jen. They really are yummy, and I had to make a LOT to do this photography :-)

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  2. Yummy! They look perfect for the cold and snowy January day - with a cup of tea and a good book, of course! Thanks for sharing your recipe and the details about your series which sounds fun, too (I love the idea of/acronym of the WISE Enquiries Agency)! Nicole :-)

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    1. Hi Nicole - they're perfect whatever the weather (but I accept I am biased!)I'm glad you like the acronym - it's fun to write about four strong, yet markedly different, women

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  3. Welcome, Cathy! I visited Wales quite a few years ago and loved it, although I can't recall having had tea anywhere, alas (I did, however, learn a new way to fold socks at a laundromat in Caernarvon). Now I'm coveting a bakestone. I love the way you've given your WISE women different backgrounds.

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    1. Never having been in a launderette/laundromat in Caernarvon (that must be quite a tale!) I probably fold my socks just like anyone else (or maybe there's a WELSH way you discovered and I've always been doing it!?). It's fun to create four such very different characters, and to spend time with them.

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  4. Welcome to MLK Cathy! it's wonderful that you are Welsh through and through and don't need to make up the details. I want a bakestone now too...

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    1. Thanks for having me to visit; it's been a pleasure. And I have a secret hiding place for my bakestone - so don't go getting any ideas!

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  5. Pat (patdupuy@yahoo.com)January 24, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    The Welsh cakes look delicious. Your WISE women detectives series is a great premise. I have to look for the books now!

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    1. Hi Pat - I'm glad you like the look of the Welscakes...and of course I;m delighted you like the premise for the WISE Enquiries Agency books. I hope you're able to find them and enjoy them :-)

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  6. The Welsh cakes sound delicious and I'm delighted to be introduced to a new series.

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    1. What a great "handle" you have, PlumGaga! I hope you enjoy meeting the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency :-)

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  7. The Welsh cakes look delicious. The series is new to me, and I thank you for the chance to win. Dmskrug3@hotmail.com

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    1. Hello Daniele - I'm so grateful to THESE lovely ladies for allowing me to reach out to people, like you, who know and admire them and their work, but who haven't met MY ladies yet. I hope you enjoy spending time with the women of the WISE Enquiries Agecny some time soon - with a Welsh cake to nibble on when you do :-)

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  8. These look yummy and a new series to try! Thanks for the chance!
    karen(dot)kenyon(at)rogers(dot)com

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    1. Hi Karen - I promise you they ARE yummy! And I hope you get to try them, and meet the woman of the WISE Enquiries Agency soon :-)

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  9. I *love* that you brought your bakestone with you. You clearly had your priorities straight. Love the recipe and will definitely be trying it! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Krista - oh yes, the years spent getting it to the point where it always works well would all have been lost if I'd left it behind! Happy baking :-)

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  10. Definitely a yummy looking recipe and I can't wait to read this book

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    1. Hi there - I'm so pleased you think both sound good enough , and fun enough, to try....and maybe you can even enjoy them together :-)

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  11. My Great-Great Grandparents were from Aberdare, Wales, so I loved seeing this recipe. Somehow, no recipes were passed down through my Grandmother, so I'm glad to have this one -- very special!

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    1. Hello Celia - I'm so sorry you don't have any recipes from your Welsh ancestors...by all means try this one, tweak it to suit, then have it as YOUR OWN! Maybe for St. David's Day?

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  12. Those Welsh cakes sound interesting. I look forward to this book.
    marlene.ezell@gmail.com

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    1. Hello Marlene - they're easy enough for anyone to make, even with children (though keep them away from the bakestone!) and I really hope you enjoy them, and the book :-)

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  13. I enjoyed your first book in the new WISE series and look forward to this second one. Great title...and you can educate some of the unaware about Morris dancers too!

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    1. Thanks kk - thanks for already having chosen to spend time with the WISE Women, and I hope you enjoy the second book. As for the Morris dancing - oh yes, it'll tickle your fancy, I'm sure :-)

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  14. I enjoyed your first book in the new WISE series and look forward to this second one. Great title...and you can educate some of the unaware about Morris dancers too!

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    1. Not wanting to leave this duplicate comment hanging....THANKS kk :-)

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  15. Anew series to me and sounds good. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

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    1. Hello Rosie - I'm so glad you like the sound of it, and hope you enjoy meeting the WISE women :-)

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  16. I so enjoyed the first WISE Enquiries Agencies mystery, and I've been looking forward to this new one, Cathy. I seem to be gravitating toward Welsh things these days. I'm currently reading a novel set there, and I've added Wales to my dream trip to Great Britain. I think it's a very loyal act to have brought your bakestone with you, a commitment to you Welsh heritage. Thanks for the recipe and pictures.

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    1. Hello Kathy - I'm so chuffed that you've already met the WISE Women...and that you liked them enough to want to visit them again! To be honest, bringing the bakestone wasn't a huge decision - they'd have had to tear it away from me after having spent to many years getting it perfectly seasoned! But, you're right, it would be difficult to get one anywhere other than Wales :-)

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  17. I'm always pleased to discover another author of the fun mysteries and especially with a Celtic bend. I can't wait to get into your WISE series. I expect the women to become my favourite characters.

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    1. Hello Pat - I'm pleased to meet you here, and hope you enjoy meeting the WISE Women - they're fun :-)(Yes, I know I'm biased!)

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  18. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

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    1. Thanks - anyone with "Booklover" in their handle is someone I hope will enjoy meeting the WISE Women :-)

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  19. This book sounds fascinating and intriguing. Love your books. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I'm so glad you like the sound of it...and since your handle is "traveler" I have a feeling you'll enjoy visiting Wales :-)

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  20. The Welsh cakes have made me hungry. Thanks for the
    chance to win. Do some cakes come with the book?
    Carol Smith
    penelope223(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hello there - thanks for entering, but I'm afraid Welsh cakes are something best made with a dollop of your own love in them ;-)

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  21. Thank you for sharing your wonderful tea time recipe. The book sounds intriguing; thank for the opportunity to win it.

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    1. Hello MaryAnn - I'm really happy th share my recipe...and glad you like the sound of the book :-)

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  22. Delectable Welsh cakes. Interesting book that would be enjoyable. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Love the handle...and I tried to bring the WISE Women to life in a delectable way too ;-)

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  23. Oh, I certainly need to check out this series! It sounds SO interesting!! Thank you for the opportunity. I'm buying book one in anticipation of winning the second one! 😉

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    1. Hello Cheryl - so pleased you've discovered the WISE Women...and what a splendid idea to get the first book to prepare for the second. Thank you so much :-)

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  24. Thank you for the give away. suefoster109@netzero.net.

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    1. You're welcome - and thanks for entering, Sue :-)

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  25. Those look tasty! Looking forward to The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer.

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    1. Trust me - they are extremely addictive as well as tasty, Brooke! :-)

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  26. Oh, Cathy, The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer sounds just up my alley. I've seen Morris Dancers and was lucky to stay at Ruthin Castle many years ago. I really look forward to reading this series.The recipe sounds scrumptious, too! Thanks for the opportunity to win the book.
    CocoIhle(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hello Coco -WOW, what a great thing...to stay at a castle, and a Welsh one at that! And Morris dancing is great fun to watch. Happy reading :-)

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  27. Can't wait to try the recipe and read the book. Thanks for the chance to win. Jlsbookclub(at)nc(dot)rr(dot)com

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    1. Good luck with the recipe, Jeanne, and I hope you have a chance to read the book :-)

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  28. What a great post.I enjoyed The Case of the Dotty Dowager and the love how you came up with WISE Enquiries Agency. After talking my library into this book I'm hoping they will add book 2 but will see a copy is added even if it's mine. Ruth Nixon ruthenixon@sbcglobal.net

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    1. Thanks for choosing to spend time with the WISE Women - I'm so glad you like them! Good luck with getting your library to get this book as well :-)

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  29. I've not heard of Welsh cakes before---but they do sound tasty. I'll have to try the recipe and see if I can master it. Thanks for the contest.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Sue - I'm pleased to have the chance to introduce Welsh cakes to those who don't know them (the WISE Women too!)

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  30. This recipe sounds wonderful. I'm going to give it a try. I can't wait to read the new book!

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    1. Good luck with the recipe, Kay - and I hope you enjoy the book too :-)

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  31. Oh, these do sounds treat!
    I can totally understand bringing prized cookware along. Who knows what one might find (or worse, NOT find) in a heathen new country?
    And your WISE group is a very clever idea.

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    1. You're right Libby - Canada's a lovely place, but bakestones are a little unusual...besides, years of use meant it was at it's "sweet spot" in terms of seasoning! I'm glad you like the idea behind the WISE Women :-)

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    2. And I am impressed with the fact that you have responded to each comment.
      Well done!

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  32. I love new recipes...this one will definitely accompany my tea well. Book club will love it. kat8762@aol.com

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    1. I hope your book club enjoys the Welsh cakes, Kathleen...and check out the BOOK CLUB tab on my website for discussion points about all my books (and I am always happy to visit by Skype) :-)

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  33. Thanks for letting me know about the new series. I'm curious, is it set in current day or in the past?
    jenne.turner@unt.edu

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    1. It's set NOW....so you get to see how a stately home in Wales in the twenty-first century. The WISE Women are pretty good at using modern technology when they need to, too :-)

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  34. The Welsh cakes sound interesting. Hmm, I can see a mystery set around someone taking away a bakestone. mwahaahaa
    I loved the first WISE Women book and am looking forward to the second

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    1. Hello Liz - if anyone took my bakestone I might well see a murder mystery ensuing! Thanks for your kind words :-)

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  35. Loved the first book and can't wait to read this one. Wish you were closer to make the Welsh cakes in person. I could eat them all day. Thanks for the chance to win. doward1952@yahoo.com

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    1. Hello Doward, thanks ever so much for having already chosen to meet the WISE Women - I'm so pleased you enjoyed the first book! Honestly, the Welsh cakes are pretty easy to make ;-)

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  36. The Welsh Tea Cakes look so good, I will have to try to make them. Would enjoy reading your book, thanks for the giveaway.
    diannekc8@gmail.com

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    1. Hello Dianne - thanks for dropping by. I'm glad your taste buds are watering ;-)

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  37. The Welsh Tea Cakes look so good, I will have to try to make them. Would enjoy reading your book, thanks for the giveaway.
    diannekc8@gmail.com

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  38. The recipe looks great! Thanks for the giveaway! The book looks great, too!

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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    1. I'm glad you like the look of the recipe and the book, Elaine...they go together very well ;-)

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  39. Looks like a tasty recipe. Will have to try it. Thanks for the giveaway. kayt18(at)comcast(dot)net

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    1. Thanks, Kay - yes, try to give it a go - they are really very "moor-ish"! :-)

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  40. Will be making the cakes for sure. Got my Welsh side going. You are a perfect fit for MLK, good to see your face. I would Love to have a copy of your book, and of course,Morris Dancers are Cool.

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    1. Hello Sue - I am guessing the "Ellis" is the Welsh bit? Glad you think I fit here - I was delighted to be invited along as a guest. And, yes, Morris dancers are cool :-)

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  41. I know what i'm going to make for my mom date this week! Thank you so much for the recipe and the chance to win! utaker555@gmail.com

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    1. Hello Brittany - have fun with the baking, and I hope your mum enjoys them! All the best :-)

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  42. Not familiar with currants. Will have to give this recipe a try. Thank you. I also appreciate the chance to win the book. I am unfamiliar with this author and series and looking forward getting to know them. Della at deepotter@peoplepc.com

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    1. What an enigmatic handle! Love it. Well, "Not really", currants are more tart than raisins and are made from dried dark grapes as opposed to dried white grapes. Less squishy and less sweet than raisins. that's all, really. raisins would be a fine alternative. I hope you try the recipe - and the books, of course ;-)

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  43. These sound delicious! I'm definitely going to give this recipe a try. I've been wanting to read this series. I love cozies set in the U.K. How are you enjoying Canada? Twitter said you lived in Vancouver. I lived in Victoria, B.C. as a child from '71-'81. British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
    bpwoodfield@gmail.com

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    1. Hello Pamela - I really hope you enjoy the books - they are quintessentially British! Yes, I live near Vancouver in BC now, and I love it here. Ive visited Victoria several times - it's a lovely city with a British twist. Maybe that's why you like all things Brit? ;-)

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  44. It's been such a fun day - thanks to the ladies for inviting me here to share news about my books, and my Welsh cakes. Thanks to everyone who's commented so far (and those who will!) It's been just wonderful to follow along and "chat". :-)

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  45. I'll have to add these to my list of things to try. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! Kkcochran@hotmail.com

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    1. I'd be honored to know that either/both my Welsh cakes and characters have made their way onto your list of things to try :-)

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  46. I am another one that will try your Welsh Cakes they sound delicious...are they at all like scones? Love the sound of the new Book and that Cover is great.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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    1. Hello Marilyn - they are sweeter than scones, I'd say, and a good deal flatter! I like a plain scone, with lashings of raspberry jam and a decent slathering of real Devon clotted cream...but Welsh cakes are "less sinful" because they really can be eaten on their own :-)Glad you like the look of the book too

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  47. Thanks to everyone who participated - a winner's name has been drawn and I have connected with them via email. If that wasn't you - I'm sorry you weren't lucky on this occasion - but I hope you choose to hunt down the WISE Women in any case :-)

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