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.

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

      Delete
  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 :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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.

      Delete
  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...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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!

      Delete
  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!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 :-)

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

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

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 :-)

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 :-)

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 :-)

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 :-)

      Delete
  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!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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?

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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 :-)

      Delete
  13. I enjoyed your first book in the new WISE series and look forward to this second