Today is the 1st of March. While the weather is still a little cold and unpredictable there’s definitely a feeling of Spring in the air and little by little the days are getting noticeably longer. Daffodils (“cenin pedr”, the national flower of Wales) begin to flower and the countryside glows yellow.
Today is also the day we celebrate St David’s Day, the patron Saint of Wales, celebrated on the 1st of March in memory of the day he died in 589 AD. His final resting place, St David’s (“Tyddewi’), in Pembrokeshire, Wales, was a popular pilgrimage destination throughout the middle ages. Today, it is still a popular site for tourists as it is set within the picturesque Pemborkeshire coast, close to the famous Whitesands Bay. St David’s was granted city status in 1994 due to the presence of the awe-inspiring cathedral in the heart of the community. We highly recommend you visit!
St David’s day is traditionally celebrated in Wales and although it is not an officially recognized bank holiday we certainly make sure we celebrate! Children dress up in the traditional Welsh dress (one of my favourite days of the year when I was little), sing traditional Welsh songs (Calon Lan is always good!), and eat traditional Welsh food. Leeks ("cenin") are the national emblem of Wales and are an important ingredient in one of our most treasured dishes – Welsh rarebit. Other foods we enjoy on this day include Welsh cakes, bara brith, cawl, and ponch maip (though I think this is mainly a North Wales thing).
Below is a recipe for Welsh cakes for you to try.
225 g plain flour
85 g caster sugar
½ tsp cinnamon (though I usually add a full teaspoon)
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
100 g butter cur into small pieces (you can also try 50 g butter and 50 g lard for a more traditional recipe)
50 g currants
1 egg, beaten
splash of milk
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Add the butter (and lard if using) and rub through the fingers until all the chunks have disappeared and you are left with a crumbly mixture. TIP: cover your fingers in flowers before starting and every time you start to feel the butter dip your hands back into the dry mixture.
- Add the egg and work into the mix to form a dough. If the dough is too dry add a splash of milk. In the end it should have the same consistency as short crust pastry. TIP: don’t overwork the dough – it makes the Welsh cakes more tough.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it has a thickness of around 1 cm
- Cut into the circles using a flour coated cutter. I like smaller Welsh cakes (4 cm diameter) but you can also make larger ones.
- Grease a heavy frying pan with butter and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh in batches for around 3 minutes per side until golden brown. As soon as they’re cooked sprinkle with more caster sugar.
Best enjoyed warm from the pan with a nice paned (cup of tea). Enjoy!