As much as holidays are about celebration, they are also about tradition. I come from a very close family that values togetherness above all else this time of year and nothing puts me in the holiday mood as much as time with them.
I will never forget the Christmas Day blizzard where my cousin took a Jeep and picked up every family member so that even if we could not get home, we would spend Christmas Day together. But more, I will never forget the smell of plum pudding and white sauce. And I will never forget Welsh cookies.
My grandmother’s name was Myfanwy, and along with her Welsh heritage came many traditions, but none more important than her Welsh cookies. Generations of miners in Wales took these “cookies” with nutmeg and currants to work every day and that tradition continued when they came to Pennsylvania to work the large anthracite coal mines. They’re not made like traditional cookies and definitely don’t taste like them either, as they are cooked on a griddle like pancakes. The resulting cookie has a biscuit-like flavor and texture that combines the best characteristics of pancakes, shortbread and biscuits.
Welsh cookies have been called by other names—bakestones, Welsh cakes, griddle scones—and the ingredients are simple, but the process is tricky. While my grandmother had taught a slew of family members, it was my turn to learn a few years ago.
With my Mom, Wifey, some cousins, an aunt and a 5-year-old, we began our lesson. Gram would oversee everything and serve as supervisor (even stopping to playfully throw dough at us every now and then). Yet even with her oversight, it took us some time to perfect the cookie.
With the first few batches, some of the cookies burned, some were too thick or too thin and some just weren’t “quite right.” And then, there it was: nothing was or ever has been as good as the first perfect cookie that came off the griddle, which we split up and all tasted as Gram smiled and gave her approval.
Though we didn’t end up with many cookies that year, the experience was so great that we tried again the next December and the December after. Gram has since passed away, but we have continued to break out her cookie cutter and rolling pin each year as our family welcomes more and more young ones to learn the secrets of her Welsh cookies.
Welsh Cookies ( Myfanwy’s Way)
Here’s My Grandma Miff’s recipe, as I learned it. If you want more specific measurements try here.
2 c sugar, dash of nutmeg, 1 lb lard, 7-8 c flour, 1/2 lb margarine, some salt, 6 tsp baking powder
Mix above ingredients by hand. In a separate bowl beat 6 eggs and add enough milk to equal 2 cups. Make a well in the dough and add milk mixture, a box of currants and additional flour. Mix until soft, roll out and cut with cookie cutter. On a hot griddle cook on both sides until done.