Great Welsh Bakes

Potato Bread

Wales is justly famous for the variety of its cakes and breads, which can be made out of virtually anything – from potatoes to seaweed! Regional specialities incorporate local delicacies, and there are also several standard bakes that are common to the whole country. For centuries, people cooked on a griddle or bakestone, and many delicious sweet and savoury bakes can still be cooked this way, or using a heavy frying pan as a substitute.

Welsh Cakes (Picen ar y Maen)

Welsh cakes are a relative latecomer to the national diet, when fat and sugar were added to basic griddle bread in the 19th century to produce a kind of fried scone. Traditionally made of fat, flour, sugar, salt, currants, egg, and milk, the art of a perfect Welsh cake is to brown it quickly, cooking both sides to a crisp texture while the centre remains moist.

Bara Brith

Bara Brith is Welsh for ‘speckled bread’ and is a traditional oven-baked fruit bread that used to be made with yeast. Nowadays it's more commonly made without, and consists of mixed dried fruit soaked overnight in strong tea, stirred into a mixture of flour, spices, dark brown sugar and egg. This delicious, sticky tea bread is ideal for filling that hungry gap between lunch and dinner.

Honey Cake (Teisennau Mel)

Honey was always more plentiful than sugar in the country, although modern recipes combine the two in equal parts. There are many local variations, and the cake can be made as a large loaf or small muffins, which are traditionally eaten on St David's Day. Other ingredients of this yummy tea-time treat include flour, cinnamon, milk and an egg.

Teisen Lap

Teisen Lap is similar to Welsh cake and was traditionally an ‘ordinary’ cake, baked on a dinner plate on the range. It was cooked for farm workers returning from the fields and for the coal miners of south Wales, who could carry it underground. The name describes the cake's texture, as llap (or lap), means wet or moist, but the mixture must also be relatively thick to stay on the plate! Two or three eggs and milk are added to fat, flour, sugar, mixed dried fruit and nutmeg.

Aberffraw Biscuits (Teisen Berffro)

One of the most distinctive bakes in Wales is the Aberffraw Biscuit, or Berffro cake, which originated in Anglesey. They are a kind of shortbread that was first baked back in the 13th century in a scallop shell, or alternatively as a symbol of the scallop that pilgrims wore. The flat half of a queen scallop shell was used to imprint the motif, and these biscuits are now gaining global recognition, being in commercial production by the Aberffraw Biscuit Co. The simple recipe is a 3:2:1 ratio of plain flour to salted butter to fine caster sugar.

Potato Bread (Bara Tato/Poten Dato)

This bread is native to Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire, where potatoes were a staple crop. It used to be baked overnight in a cooling bread oven, but today can be cooked on a griddle or in a heavy frying pan. The ingredients are very similar to Welsh cakes, substituting mashed potato for the egg.