Thursday, October 22, 2015

Welsh Culinary Treats.

I don’t believe I have ever featured Welsh recipes before – have I? This blog is a week away from its ten year anniversary, so I must remedy the omission. Without further delay, and with no commentary whatsoever as life has been busy enough this last week, I give you a short selection from a very short glance over the literature:-

The Rhyl Journal of 11 May 1895 felt it worth noting that a recent edition of a London magazine featured some Welsh recipes:-

The Housewife (20, Bride Street E.C) for May is quite a Welsh number of this interesting magazine. …. The magazine is well illustrated, and its content useful and sensible. We quote one of the Welsh recipes supplied by “Shanet”:- PORRIDGE - Porridge in Wales usually goes by the name of llymru, meaning some- thing crude or sour, and is a very popular supper dish in agricultural districts. The Welsh meal is finely ground, and is allowed to steep tor several days in water (a thick creamy mixture resulting called siccan); sufficient of this is stirred with the handle of a wooden spoon into boiling and salted water and boiled for twenty minutes or half an hour. It is poured into small shallow soup plates for each person, and placed round the table, each person having a small basin containing cold milk, into which he dips each spoonful before eating. Some make a hole in the middle of the plateful and pour the cold milk in that. It is very wholesome, and considered good for children. Oat- meal was formerly largely used in Welsh cookery, and it is to be regretted that the fashion is going out here, as elsewhere. Welsh oatmeal cakes, once so popular, are dying out of knowledge because the younger housewives do not learn how to make them. They are thinner than the Scotch cakes, and are made of finer meal, and cooked on a bakestone.

Another Welsh staple of previous times was barley bread:

Method of making Barley Bread:
In Wales, and some of the western counties, barley bread, occasionally varied by oaten, has been for ages the staple food of the lower orders; and in some districts ryemeal is mixed with the former, or with coarse wheaten flour, which not only increases the bulk, but gives an agreeable sweetness, much relished after a little use. There are two modes of making barley bread practised in Wales; either by raising the dough with leaven, in the same manner as wheaten, and baking large loaves, or by making the meal into cakes, or what is usually called plank bread, because the cakes are baked upon a circular flat cast-iron of about eighteen inches diameter, and a quarter of an inch thick, called a plank. In the last process, the meal is simply wetted with water, kneaded a little, and fashioned out by hand into single cakes, or sometimes in a pile, some dry meal being placed between each cake. Country girls are very expert at this, and will mould as fast as a couple of planks can bake them. The oat cakes are made much in the same way, but thinner, and placed on edge before they are cold around the chimney; they are curled by the heat, and then placed in rolls, one inside the other. Except in time of harvest, the peasantry seldom or never have a taste of wheaten bread; but as Burns says -

"Buirdly chiels and clever hizzies,
Are bred in sic a way as this is."

And the natives of the districts where this humble fare prevails are remarkable for health and vigour, being far superior in physical capacity to the population of manufacturing districts, whose bread diet is of a much finer quality.
The Magazine of Domestic Economy (London, 1840)

And another variation on the Welsh staple grain theme:

Welsh Cakes.
Long before the world war created a shortage in the world’s flour supply the sturdy Welshwomen used oatmeal in their cakes. A recipe handed on from mother to daughter in all the old farmhouses is the following simple mixture for making dainty little cakes: Four ounces of flour (wholemeal is very often used, fresh from the grinding stones of one of the water mills) two ounces of coarse oatmeal, two ounces of sugar, two ounces of lard, with a pinch of carbonate of soda or baking powder. These are mixed together with a little milk or buttermilk or water, and the paste rolled to about half an inch thick on an oatmeal-floured board. With a cutter this is cut into rounds, which are put into a hot oven and baked till a nice brown. They eat very crisp and short, and if it is to be had a little butter makes them into cakes “fit for a king.”

Brecon County Times of 28 March 1918.

No comments: