Mini-me started the morning with my favorite refrain: "want make something!", which means she’d like us to cook something together. I was a bit bored of our regular muffin routine, so I pulled out Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s HomeBaking thinking of scones and settled on something related but a bit different, the "Welsh Cakes" you see above.
I don’t have the author’s permission so I can’t reproduce the recipe here, but the basic concept is somewhere in the neighborhood of a typical biscuit or scone, but with no baking powder or soda, and all the liquid coming from eggs. They are flavored with the usual sweet spices (nutmeg, cinammon, ginger, cloves) but also get a little spike of black pepper, and are baked like pancakes on the stovetop in a skillet instead of in the oven. The recipe called for currants but I was out, so we used chopped dried blueberries instead. The results were delicious: buttery, both moderately flaky and tender, and with a fairly intense flavor unscathed by the typical chemical aftertaste from the leavenings. According to Wikipedia, this unleavened variation is more correctly known in Wales as a "Llech Cymreig".
Alford and Duguid’s strong point is to bring together a big group of recipes via a theme and tie them together with photos and tales of their travels. I’m a big fan of all of their work. The HomeBaking book focuses on rustic baked goods from around the world. Nothing in here is meant to be pretty in the way of fancy pastries, but they all have an earthy and honest beauty that is easy to appreciate.
That said, there were a couple of nits I might pick with this particular recipe. First, it calls for 2 extra-large eggs. It is pretty much a universal standard that recipes use large, not extra large. I just used 2 large and they turned out just fine. If it had called for 3 XL, I probably would have used 4 L. Also, it tells you to roll them out 1/4" thick, and that you will get 12 or 13 cakes. I don’t think they measured, because a full 1/4" would only give you about 8-10 cakes. I find this is the case with many recipes that call for dough to be rolled out, and you have to use your own experience as a baker to see how thick they should really be.
Notwithstanding these pet peeves, both the book and this recipe are outstanding.