It's been a while since I've seen her.
A French-Welsh burst of light and beauty,
She possessed the most sparkling golden green eyes
and a cloud of fluffy white curls
that danced a razorblade wit waltz
and laughed to make playful even the darkest corners...
Stealing the heart of a young man, many moons ago,
never to be forgotten.
Her family embraced "The English side," as she put it,
And so, she became the latest in a line of roses
once a year
the (in)famous Plum Pudding,
A thousand-pound ring of suet and raisins
filled with her bright smiles
and topped with a thick rum sauce.
I do believe my child self was it's one and only fan.
My grown-up self could never comprehend it.
I tried, many, many times
to lighten it up
make it healthy
without animal sacrifices
The results were unfailingly disastrous.
(This vagabond's myriad kitchens have witnessed the attempts. I am fairly certain ovens have guffawed when I left the room.)
So, in honor of ma belle-mére, my beloved grandmother Margaret, I offer you, gorgeous Readers, my Vixen twist on an altogether different classic: The Welsh Cake. A gorgeous little nibble to accompany your tea, with it's pagan roots in Celtic post-ritual feasting.
My kind of treat.
The traditional versions are made with, of course, major butter and sugar. That part was easy enough to fix. Texture, though...therein lay the challenge. Welsh Cakes have a semi-dense consistency, but are cooked on a super-greased griddle, so they end up being somewhere between a scone and a crumpet. Sort of.
And then there's the Rolling Out Of The Dough.
Mostly...no patience. Hungry. Now.
So, I've tried these two different ways: the first involves dropping spoonfuls of dough onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet, and baking for about 20 minutes. This version is crispy, like a cookie.
The second, which I'm really fond of, is made in a pan, stovetop, with coconut oil. I love this because it's light and fluffy, kinda like a little pancake. Or a Madeline.
Mmmmm. Totally doing this.
Welsh Moon Cakes
- 1 C All-Purpose Gluten-Free flour
- 1/2 C xylitol
- 1/2 C vegan butter (try to get the olive oil/flax kind-steer clear of soy if you can)
- 1 flax "egg" (1 Tbsp ground flax meal + 3 Tbsp pure water.)
- 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk, more as needed
- 1/2 C organic raisins
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp vanilla, extract or powder
- Zest of 2 lemons or 10 drops lemon essential oil
- Generous pinch each of nutmeg and cloves
***Please do not share with your animal friends, as xylitol is toxic to them.
First, make the flax egg. Whisk together the flax meal with the water in a cup, and let it rest somewhere.
Now, sift the flour. (I know. But at least you don't have to grate cheese.) Rake in the vegan butter with a pastry cutter-thingy (above) or a fork until the mixture becomes crumbly. Now add in the xylitol, spices, lemon, and raisins. Mix it. Next goes the flax egg, gelled by now, and the first 1/2 cup of almond milk. Whisk it all together until smooth and a thin enough consistency to spoon out. Add some more almond milk if you need.
Heat some coconut oil - about a teaspoon - into a skillet. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the heated pan, and let them brown on one side. Flip! Now brown on the other. You may need to add more coconut oil and mess with the flame so they don't overcook.
Eat these warm. They store well in an airtight container in the fridge (or even freezer), but do pop them in the toaster for a minute before you bite in. The flavor is superb! Really, really good. The lemon puts it over the top. I love freshly zested citrus, but Loves, let me tell you, essential oils are the way to go. I use the culinary grade, super-high quality oils from Contessa. Exquisite zing.
I wanted these to have a purrfectly round moon shape, so, of course, at the last minute I went flying out of the Lair to a kitchen shop, madly in search of some kind of mold or cookie cutter that would work with a skillet. What was I thinking? I grabbed something called an Egg Mold, and headed home.
So, the Egg Mold. Very large round object with a little wooden-topped handle. Wooden handle. On a hot stove. Not brilliant. But I tried it. I rubbed it with coconut oil, poured in some dough, and let it go...
Then I got so distracted by a photo a friend sent of Mick Jagger in a bottle green velvet jacket that I burned the test cake.
I'm so easily sidetracked by pretty things.
We always shared a love of the Moon. As a child, she would take me outside to see the night-blooming flowers wink at us as the summer evening air would caress our faces. In those moments, there with her, everything was right in the world.
Late Spring would have brought her a birthday.
Bon anneversaire, dear Lady.
You are missed.