Vegan Welsh Cakes
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! (Happy St David’s Day!) I love these traditional little Welsh treats which are synonymous with 1st March and the prospect of spring just around the corner. Despite being sold every day of the year in every bakery in Wales, it’s Welsh law (sort of) to make Welsh cakes on St David’s Day and it’s just one of the many days of the year I crave them, although I did spend my twenties pretending Dydd Dewi Sant didn’t exist. I was still haunted by toe-curling childhood memories of being forcibly dressed in a traditional Welsh Lady costume and paraded through the grounds of Cardiff castle by my Nan. Japanese tourists took photos of Nan taking photos of me, a six-year-old trussed up in a scratchy costume and stovepipe hat, visibly dying of embarrassment and sitting sulkily on a mossy rock whilst loosely holding a bunch of daffodils. I can smile about it now and while I would never impose unwanted fancy dress costumes upon my own London-born daughter (she only wants to be a rabbit anyway) I have been quick to introduce her to Welsh cakes – sweet little discs of dough cooked until golden and sprinkled with caster sugar. Somewhere between a scone and a biscuit, there’s nothing quite like a Welsh cake.
My mother-in-law makes some of the the best Welsh cakes I’ve ever eaten, and since going vegan I have really missed them on our trips to Wales. I had to give vegan Welsh cakes a bash, and I’m super happy with the recipe below which is simply based on my late Nan’s recipe for Welsh cakes (I posted it a couple of years ago here). Turns out you don’t need the egg at all – a splash of any non dairy milk will work just as well, and the butter is replaced with no effort whatsoever by any vegan butter (or coconut oil if you prefer to use that – see the notes below). Totally trad Welsh cakes are made on a bakestone but I just use a decent heavy frying pan and it works fine.
Makes about 12 Welsh cakes – just double up if you need more!
150g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp salt
75g Stork (block, not tub) – or any dairy-free sunflower spread*
75g caster sugar
45ml (3 level tbsp) any non-dairy milk
*Coconut oil works well too. Use the refined kind, unless you don’t mind your Welsh cakes tasting coconutty. You will only need 50g of oil and you’ll need to add an extra tablespoon of milk. The texture of the Welsh cakes will be the same as if you’d used vegan butter/sunflower spread, but will lack a bit of a golden colour and flavour. I’ve tried both versions multiple times and personally I prefer ones made with vegan butter.
Measure the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt into a mixing bowl and give it a stir. Add the Stork (in chunks) and rub together until you have a sort of chunky sandy texture. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir it all together.
Now pour in the milk and use a spoon to bring the mixture together. When it starts to clump (there’s got to be a better word for this but I can’t think of it!) add the raisins.
Bring the dough together with your hands – you should be able to make a ball without too much effort. Roll it out to a thickness of just under 1cm. Cut using a round cutter, about 2.5″/3″. You should get around 12 Welsh cakes from this.
Use a large, heavy-bottomed non-stick frying pan (or a bake stone if you’ve got one, lucky you if you have!) and cook 4 or 5 at a time on a medium heat for around 3 minutes on each side, or until they look nicely golden – like a cup of strong tea – on each side. They will still look very soft on the sides (if you know what I mean) – that’s ok. They firm up as they cool so don’t over-bake, otherwise you’ll end up with a really dry Welsh cake. Place the hot cakes on to a plate and immediately sprinkle caster sugar all over and leave to cool. Keep cooking until you’ve used up all the dough. I don’t oil the pan first and I’m not sure what the outcome would be on a surface other than non-stick – if you’ve tried it, please let me know in the comments below!