I've come across so many evocative descriptions and mentions of food and drink consumed at dusk when it's cold and dark outside and the lamplighters are at work, that I could write a chapter about twilight tea-time were I to think about an adult version of Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. There would be references to Virginia Woolf's Diaries, and the snug tea hosted by Wemmick in Great Expectations at which 'a haystack of buttered toast' is served. There would be mentions of crumpets, pikelets, pots of tea and pots of gentleman's relish, hearty Dundee cake and spicy gingerbread, and coverage of muffins and the muffin-men who would ring a bell to let householders know they had just-made muffins and crumpets for sale (just reading Elizabeth David's brief recollections in English Bread and Yeast Cookery transports me to a different era).
And I'd need to find a novel (or poem or play, if necessary) in which Welsh cakes are served, because a dusk chapter would have to include them. Welsh cakes are incredibly easy to make and can be on the table just twenty minutes after getting the mixing bowl out which is good because they are undoutedly best eaten fresh and warm. Traditionally, they contain currants, but any dried fruit or fruit mix works just as well.
For the cakes
225g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
75g-150g currants or whatever dried fruit is to hand such as mixed dried fruit, raisins or sultanas (quantity according to preference)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
You will need
A 6/7cm round cookie cuutter
A griddle or flat, heavy pan
- Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
- Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and dried fruit and stir to mix.
- With a fork, mix the egg with the milk in a small bowl.
- Add to the mixing bowl and with your hands or a knife, bring the ingredients together to make a soft, damp but not sticky dough. If it is too dry, add a tiny amount of milk.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out to 1cm thick. Cut out rounds, rerolling the trimmings as necessary to make more rounds.
- Heat the griddle over a medium heat. Grease very lightly with butter.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the cakes in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are puffed up and a deep golden brown on each side. Take care not to burn them on too high a heat.
- Remove the cakes from the griddle and place on a wire cooling rack, sprinkle with sugar and serve.