The city and county of Swansea in Wales has a great number of tourist attractions, form galleries and museums, to beaches and castle ruins. But any sojourn to Swansea will be deemed incomplete unless one gets a chance to sample the mouth watering Welsh Cuisine. Even among this cuisine, the recipe that is very popular and equally delicious is that of Welsh Cakes. These tiny little cakes are a must have for all and sundry, and more so for the food lovers. In Swansea the Welsh cakes happen to be among some of the oldest and traditional of dishes, so to taste these cakes here where the recipes have been passed down since generations makes them much more appetizing.
The Welsh Cakes are not merely rich in taste; they have an equally fascinating history. Their cooking procedure counts among some of the oldest known methods of making cakes. These cakes were made in the old times using a cast iron griddle. This bakestone was put over open fire, and the cakes were cooked over them. This was before the baking technique became actively used. Due to the apparatus used to cook them, Welsh Cakes are also known as Bakestones or Griddle Cakes.
Their other name is Welsh Miner Cakes, which reflect the historical fact of Wales being a major mining nation. Welsh Cakes, whose ingredients were easily available and were also filling, constituted the miners’ lunch and hence the name. These cakes are usually served alongside the afternoon tea, and not just in Wales but in many other places all over the United Kingdom. As they are an accompaniment of the tea, they are sometimes also referred to as Welsh Tea Cakes.
In Swansea almost all bakeries and confectioneries have Welsh Cakes on their menu. They are best served hot. Tasting the delicacies as they are taken off the grill, and to experience the sweetness melting in your mouth is a sensory experience all food lovers must indulge in, especially those with a sweet tooth. But the most popular place for those who want to taste the typical and traditional Welsh Cake in Swansea is the Swansea Market. Guaranteed to be delectable, the Welsh Cakes served in the various stalls of Swansea Market amid charming environs are bound to leave you with an appetizing memory.
Located in the middle of the bustling city, the Swansea Market has a rich history of its own. It has a tradition that can be traced back to hundreds of years, and it also happens to be Wales’ largest indoor market. There are many eating joints and bakeries among the Market’s stall that serve the delicious and freshly made Welsh Cakes all the day round. Many different kinds of these cakes are sold here, leaving you spoiled for choices.
Welsh Cakes are usually round in shape, but could be given any other shape depending on one’s choice or the occasion. For instance, heart shaped Welsh Cakes are very common and popular. They are often gifted at wedding or engagements. A circular cake is usually half inch thick and the diameter is one or two inches. Many innovations and variations in the traditional recipes of Welsh Cakes are possible. Sometimes these depend on the location, and change regionally. But whatever the experimentation, the mouth watering quality of Welsh Cakes remains intact and these cakes with slight variations in their recipes are made available in bakeries and eateries across Swansea.
There are some ingredients which remain common to all Welsh Cake recipes. The experimentation is usually done among the fillings and toppings. The basic cookie like cake is made using flour, sugar (usually caster sugar), baking powder, butter, eggs, and spices (these are optional, but usually cinnamon is used). Raisins, sultanas, currants are also generally used.
While serving them, caster sugar is usually sprinkled atop. It not only adds to the taste, but also serves in making the Welsh Cakes more appealing. Jam and bread are sometimes used depending on your preference. Apples, different kind of berries for instance strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, cream, chocolate, coconut, vanilla dried fruits are some of the most common ingredients that are used for filling the Welsh Cakes.
Different cooking procedures are employed and specific ingredients are used to enhance certain specific features or textures of the Welsh Cakes. For instance if the dough prepared to cut out the cakes is mixed before hand with grated apples, the cakes’ moistness can be retained for longer. Using plain flour results in crispier outsides.
They can be dipped in chocolate, or be stuffed with chunks of chocolate or other fruits. Using more baking powder will make it appear fluffier. Some bakers also use ingredients that are unorthodox for traditional recipes and ingredients of Welsh Cakes. These ingredients are used to give a different flavor to these cakes. Cherries, lime, white chocolate, lemon, dry fruits like almond etc are used to create atypical but no less appetizing treats.
Worldwide there are innumerable lip smacking desserts; many of the Welsh sweet dishes too are very tasty. But the care that goes into making them, there crispy outsides and molten, or spongy insides, the vivid flavors all make Welsh Cakes a league apart. Eating the warm and delectable Welsh Cakes while strolling through the Welsh landscapes in Swansea is something all travelers should remember to do. For all food lovers, a visit to Swansea has to include tasting this native sweet snack, after all Swansea means Welsh Cakes.