Most of the recipes I've done so far have been named after towns or regions. This is the first one named after an entire country, one in which I lived and/or worked for over 10 years.
The recipe I followed was the average of several ones:
- 8oz self raising flour
- 4oz butter
- 3oz sugar
- ½ mixed spice
- 1 egg
- sultanas/dried fruit
- a splash of milk
I put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulsed until it formed breadcrumbs. I then added the mixed spice and sugar and pulsed a few more times before tipping the mixture into a bowl. I added the fruit (a handful of sultanas and mixed berries) and egg and mixed well. I put a small splash of milk in to help it form a dough.
Traditionally, Welsh Cakes are cooked on a flat griddle (another name for them is Bakestones). I cooked them on our pizza stone for about 3-4 minutes each side.
It's been a few years since I ate a welsh cake (the last time I went to Cardiff) so I can't remember exactly how these compare. They tasted ok to me.
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This year my new recipe challenge is to make a regional cake or dessert for each letter of the alphabet. I will be concentrating on British places, with emphasis on places I have visited or which have any particular significance for me. Ideally each dish should come from (or at least be named after) the place in question.
My A to Z of cakes starts in Anglesey. When I was younger we used to have family holidays on Anglesey and we visited Aberffraw on several occasions. I remember swimming upstream in the river but staying in the same place due to the strong current, walking along the sand dunes and visiting the old church on the island just around the coast.
The Aberffraw Biscuit is similar to shortbread and is allegedly the oldest biscuit recipe in Britain. It is traditionally shaped in a scallop shell. I don't have any of those so I used a madeleine tray instead.
The recipe is fairly simple, consisting of just flour, butter and sugar. I used my food processor to cream together 100g of butter and 50g of caster sugar. I added 150g of sifted plain flour, a bit at a time, and pulsed the food processor until everything was mixed together. I had to tip it onto the work surface squash it all together to make a ball.
I broke off small pieces and pushed them into the individual hollows in the madeleine tray before baking the biscuits at gas mark 4 for about 15-20 minutes.
I tried one when they were still warm and the texture was quite soft and almost cakey, quite unlike a shortbread. When they cooled they became firmer but still didn't go as hard as a traditional scottish shortbread. This was a nice simple recipe to start the year but I'll be getting more ambitious with future desserts.
Earlier today we finished watching the Indian Doctor, which is a BBC TV programme which was on every day last week. I don't know why the BBC decided to show it during the day on weekdays, when it would be much more suitable as a Sunday evening show, and would almost certainly have higher audiences. At least there is the iPlayer on-line catch-up which let us watch it without having to bother setting the video.
The series features Sanjeev Bhaskar as the eponymous doctor, working in a Welsh mining village. The second series covered a smallpox outbreak in the village and features a lying hypocritical preacher, fresh from work in Africa, who tried to hinder the doctor at every step. I can almost imagine the Daily Mail newspaper working itself up to a fury over the storyline with its pro-vaccine and anti-christian sentiments.
The Daily Mail seems to be the UK representative of the American right wing, being very pro-christian and anti-science. The paper regularly contains stories dismissing global warning and sneering at any scientists who believe in it. It is also very favourable towards alternative medicine even when there is no evidence to support it, and regularly espouses the benefits of 'detox', even though the latter is based on myth and lies and is no better than simply eating healthily for a while.
At least the paper doesn't appear to have joined the anti-vaccine movement though. A quick search of vaccine related stories on the website all seem to be in favour of vaccines to prevent disease. For that we should at least be grateful.
Some photos from my trip into Cardiff today. We were at the Hamster Show which was held in neaby Radyr (congratulations to our Winter White hamsters who won the Dwarf Hamster categories apart from Best In Show).
This was my first time in the city and I was impressed by the place. Cardiff Bay seemed to be one continuous collection of cafes, bars and restaurants. The city centre itself was ok but I didn't have time for a thorough explore. It rained quite a lot while I was there so I had to be a bit selective with my photos and avoid too much washed out sky.
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The Tesco near the Walsgrave Triangle has a bilingual sign in the 'ready meals' section. The thing is, we are about 60 miles from Wales (as the crow flies) so I don't know who the sign is for. I was unaware that Coventry had a significant Welsh-speaking population.
... but Waitrose thinks they are in England.
On a related note, we have just finished drinking a bottle of Asda Premium Gin. We first tried it in a Gin & Tonic but were disappointed with the flavour. When drunk on its own, it actually tastes really good but as soon as you mix it with something, the flavour completely disappears. Even adding a splash of soda water is enough to destroy the flavour.
We drive a long way to attend some hamster shows. Today we were at Radyr, near Cardiff. It seems wrong to drive so far then spend the whole day cooped up in a church hall. I decided to visit Caerphilly Castle.
After lunch, Emma joined me to visit the open air museum at St. Fagins. A lot of old buildings had been moved to the site. There were boards describing the buildings and giving their history.
Inside the old tannery building.
Most of the buildings were genuinely old but the 'Celtic Huts' were modern reconstructions.
We've had quite a tiring weekend. We were down in South Wales for a friend's wedding. The welsh weather didn't disappoint - it rained most of the time. The wedding was indoors so that didn't matter much. Apart from the bit in the conservatory where the roof leaked so there were buckets placed to catch drips.
It was a long drive down to Wales and back and I'm still feeling a bit tired so this will be a short post.
(Entry backdated to when the photo was taken)
A photo of the newlyweds having their first dance. I don't know about you, but I always think newlywed looks like it should be a welsh word or place name.
I spotted this on the BBC News site. From the page:
When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".
These pinhole photos were taken in the abandoned lead mines around Cwm Rheidol, in 2004.
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The mobile blood van was outside the office today so I popped down this morning to give them a pint or so. I didn't realise it had been over 2 years since I last gave any. I must have been out of practice which would explain why it took such a long time.
I first started giving blood when I was working in North Wales. When I went to Aberystwyth I decided to continue doing it. It was made easier by the blood donor service turning up on campus every few months. The first time at Aber was a bit confusing because they couldn't get my details from my blood donors card. It turned out to be an English issued card which was not compatible with the Welsh system. Although I'd only ever given blood in Wales, the vans in North Wales were run by the Liverpool service.
This week's episode manages to keep up the 'wierd quotient' of this X-Files/Men in Black hybrid. The story was about a bloke who had an 'alien eye' in his possession. He got run over by a car but his 'ghost' followed Gwen's investigation into his death.
Part of the episode was set at 'Aberystwyth University'. I thought: OK, they've got the name slightly wrong but we should see some shots of the town and maybe the Old College building. Instead what we got was an interior scene which was actually filmed in the National Museum in Cardiff. I don't know whether they failed to get permission to film at the University, or whether it was too expensive, or whether they were just too plain lazy to drive to another town to film. It was a bit disappointing but didn't detract from the episode.
Update: Since I wrote this, Aber has split from the University of Wales and is no longer University of Wales, Aberystwyth and is just Aberystwyth University, as shown in the programme.
When I was publicity officer for one of the university societies in Aberystwyth, everything had to be bilingual and we had to get all emails and publicity materials translated into welsh. I was warned not to use any machine translators on the Internet. This is a good reason why you shouldn't:
Cyclists have been baffled by a new road sign which warns: "Your bladder disease has returned."
The sign - in Welsh - was meant to tell them to dismount at roadworks. But council chiefs made an error using an online translator and confused the words 'cyclists' and 'cystitis'. Amended signs are now being put up as soon as possible in Penarth, near Cardiff.
Welsh speaking cyclist Matt Lloyd, 27, said: "I thought someone was having a laugh. I've never even had a bladder disease."
I read this in the Metro newspaper on the train this morning but the story was also covered on the BBC News website, where they have a picture of the sign as well.
An assortment of my photos from over the years. Viewing each photo will bring up details of location and sometimes the film used. Two of the photos (Nether Alderley Mill and Christchurch) were taken using Infra-red film.
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