So the time of 6 Nations is upon us again, countless hours of rugby watching and pub going on a weekend. Our household is very much split during this tournament - my husband is Welsh, my daughter is (technically) Scottish, and I am English. In honour of this annual celebration of national pride I am drawing inspiration from 2 traditional baked treats; the Welsh Cake and Scottish Shortbread.
Traditional Welsh Cakes
225g plain flour
85g caster sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g cubed butter
50g cubed lard
50g currants or sultanas
1 egg, beaten
Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the currants. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry - it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using round cutter, re-rolling any trimmings (you can experiment with different shapes if you dont have a round one; to date I've made rounds, hearts, gingerbread men and stars!). Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat - this is important because if you have the pan too hot the outside with burn and the dough won't cook evenly.
Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar.
Scottish Stem Ginger Shortbread
125g butter, room temperature
50g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped
50g caster sugar
150g plain flour
35g ground rice
2 tsp ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 150˚C. Mix all the ingredients, apart from the stem ginger, together in a mixer until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and briefly knead in the stem ginger. Roll out to 1cm thickness; shape into an 18cm square. Put in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up. Cut into 12 fingers.
Bake the shortbread for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and loosen the biscuits from the baking tray. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes, before transferring to a rack to cool completely.