It’s St David’s day, the patron saint of Wales. From where we live, we can look across the Bristol Channel, and there is Wales! There used to be paddle steamers, chugging backwards and forwards between Weston and our friends across the water, bringing tourists and day-trippers; before then, back as far as is known, there was trade across these waters… even further back, there was only shallow water any people could walk across the fertile marshes from one place of higher land to another.
Nobody really knows very much about St David’s life; he’s called Dewi Sant in Welsh, and was probably born in Pembrokshire in about 500AD. He travelled throughout Wales, Cornwall, Britanny, Ireland and Jerusalem, where he was made an archbishop. he lived to be nearly ninety, and was buried in what became St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, which became an even more popular place of pilgrimage after he was canonised in 1120AD. The cathedral is in a small city called St David’s, Tyddewi in Welsh.
It was our conversational English class today, and as well as our friends from Poland, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Moldova and Chile, we had a new friend from Colombia. One of our teachers is Welsh and she waved some daffodils, the Welsh national flower, at us, and told us a little about her national day. I had brought some leeks, the Welsh national vegetable – does any other country have a national vegetable? It was only as she and I were chatting later, that she suddenly thought she should have made some Welsh cakes… well, I’m not Welsh, but here is a recipe I have used:
Welsh Cakes – Picau ar y maen
- 8 oz plain flour
- 4 oz butter (if you only have margarine you can use that, but butter is better!
- 3 oz castor sugar
- 2 oz currants (add a few more if you like – my dad always said they were the finest flavoured of all dried vine fruit!)
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp milk
- rub the butter into the sieved flour, salt, baking powder and mixed spice until it is fine and like breadcrumbs
- mix in the sugar and currants
- add the egg and then enough milk to make a firm not sticky dough – don’t knead it, just pull it together
- roll out to about ¼ inch thick and cut into 2 inch circles
- heat a griddle or dry frying pan and cook each little cake for a few minutes until golden brown on each side – be careful you don’t have the griddle too hot, you don’t want to burn the cakes or have them too cooked on the outside and doughy in the middle
- cool and then sprinkle with castor sugar and eat on their own or buttered (if you can’t resist them they are very nice while still warm!!)