Plant-based Welsh cakes for St Davids Day

It’s 1st March, St David’s Day. Not that I have any connections to Wales apart from a few fabulous holidays. But I do love Welsh cakes.

Made traditionally, Welsh cakes contain dairy (butter and milk) and eggs, so not so good for those who eat dairy or egg free. Fortunately, the recipe is simple to adapt, and easy to make. Dairy-free margarine makes a good butter substitute, and olive oil works well too for those who want to avoid altered fats or follow special diets. I’ve also used wholewheat flour and brown sugar, cutting down on refined ingredients.

Unlike scones, Welsh cakes are cooked on a griddle or heavy-based frying pan. Not that they are fried, just cooked gently on a low heat until lightly browned. They need to be quite thin so they cook through. You could at this point toss in caster sugar, as is traditional, but I’ve not done this to cut down on the sugar content – they still taste delicious. These are great to make with kids, especially on snow days like today (so much for 1st March being the beginning of Spring!).

Whilst making the sweet Welsh cakes, I started thinking about how they could be made into a savoury option. Leeks are the national symbol of Wales (apparently St David told his soldiers to wear a leek on their caps to distinguish them from the enemy), and so it only seemed right that they should feature in a savoury Welsh cake. I also added a little mustard and sage to complement the leeks. They taste great. They can be eaten warm with a little flaxseed oil, pickle or dairy-free cheese for lunch, or instead of a dumpling or potatoes to go with a simple vegetable stew.

Once made they can be stored in an air-tight tin for up to 4 days, or popped in the freezer and defrosted a few at a time. I really love both versions – see what you think. And enjoy a little bit of Welsh legacy, with a sensitive foodie twist!

Sweet Welsh cakes (makes 10)
225g plain wholemeal flour or gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
50g coconut sugar
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
grated lemon peel
60g dairy-free spread or 60ml olive oil
50g raisins, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes and drained
5 tablespoons dairy-free milk

Sift the flour into a bowl with the baking powder, spices, coconut sugar and salt. Add the grated lemon peel. Stir well to combine. Rub in the dairy-free spread or olive oil to form breadcrumbs, then stir in the raisins. Finally, add the dairy-free milk and bring together into a soft dough using your hands. Knead gently for a minute, then form into a round and place on a silicon mat. Roll out to about 1cm thick and cut out 7cm diameter rounds.

Pr-heat a heavy non-stick saucepan or griddle pan and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes or so on either side until lightly brown and firm. Eat warm straight away or keep for later – rewarm them in the toaster or on the pan. Taste great with a dollop of jam if you’re feeling decadent!

Savoury leek Welsh cakes (makes 8)
225g wholemeal flour/gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 leek, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon mustard
60mls olive oil
5 tablespoons dairy-free milk

Heat a small frying pan and sauté the leek for a few minutes until soft and lightly browned. Turn off the the heat and leave to cool. Sift the flour into a bowl with the baking powder, salt and dried sage. Add the leek and stir well to combine. Pour in the olive oil and mustard and mix together to form breadcrumb-like mixture. Finally, add the dairy-free milk and bring together into a soft dough. Knead gently for a minute then form into a round and place on a silicon baking mat. Roll out, cut and cook as above in the sweet recipe.

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