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Saturday, 20 November 2010

Welsh Cakes from Leon's New Cookbook

Welsh cakes are something I have been meaning to make for a while, so when I was thumbing through the new book 'Leon: Naturally Fast Food' by Henry Dimbleby & John Vincent, I was please to see a recipe for them.

But before the book there was Leon, a chain of fast food restaurants, founded on the twin principles that food can both Taste Good and Do You Good. The first one opened in Carnaby Street back in July 2004 and was named the Best New Restaurant in Great Britain at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. There are now 9 restaurants in and around London, serving over 50,000 people a week! The book 'Leon: Naturally Fast Food' hopes to bring some of their 'food heaven' to us at home, and many of the recipes do just that.

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A peek into the book

Split into two parts, the first section of the book is called Fast Food and contains recipes for dishes that can be conjured up in 20 minutes or less. I was a little confused about this though, because many of the recipes in that section (apart from a few at the beginning) have timings that indicate more than 20 minutes if you include the preparation and the cook times. Having said that, the recipes come with tips, alternative ingredients and interesting little notes, plus there is a key with recipe icons to tell you if the recipe is gluten free or vegetarian for example.

The second section is titled Slow Fast Food, and has recipes for dishes that can be prepared in advance and then quickly reheated when you need them. You will also find a bonus feature towards the end of the book, which includes a little from behind the scenes at Leon and some recipes from the Leon managers.

Leon: Naturally Fast Food is not your usual glossy, glamorous cookbook, but it is extremely colourful and lovingly written. Quirky features include a stickers page, hilarious photos and the recipe for 'upside-down apple & cardamom tart' is actually printed upside down - I thought I had a dodgy copy at first! Leon is a book which is meant to be read, thumbed through and explored. It is a book with easy, happy, fun recipes, and there are many ideas on a theme with plenty of variations to the recipes.

Other recipes I have bookmarked to try include the mini knickerbocker glory (page 36), Saturday pancakes (page 46), Burmese spicy cabbage (page 54) and Dalston sweet potato curry (page 99).

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Anyway, back to the Welsh cakes. These are sometimes known as griddle scones and are traditionally cooked on a hot baking stone, I used a cast iron frying pan and that worked perfectly. They are flavoured with sultanas, raisins or currants and can include spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. They are circular and may be served hot or cold, with butter or jam.

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Cutting out the Welsh cakes to cook them

Hannah's Welsh Cakes
Adapted from Leon
Note: This recipe didn't mention to use any milk along with the egg, I found that the egg alone didn't quite make a dough and I used a large egg, maybe my butter wasn't soft enough. If you have the same problem, I suggest to add some milk a little at a time until the mixture binds together to make a soft dough.

Makes about 16, depending on the size of your cutter

230g self-raising flour
110g butter
85g sugar
55g sultanas, currants or raisins
1 egg
A little milk if you need it

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and rub the butter in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. You can use a food processor for this if you like.

Add the sugar and dried fruit and mix well. Beat the egg and add to the bowl mixing well until a dough ball forms. You may need to add a little milk, see above note.

Knead for a minute and then roll the dough onto a floured work surface. The dough should be just under 1cm thick. Cut out circular shapes with a 7cm (2¾") biscuit cutter.

Heat up a lightly greased non-stick or griddle pan and gently fry the cakes on both sides for 6-8 minutes, being careful not to let them burn.

Serve warm with butter, or dredge them in caster sugar.

Leon cookbook cover

The book can be bought directly from Octopus Books or from Amazon. There is also another Leon book called Leon: Ingredients and Recipes.

Leon Book 2: Naturally Fast Food
£20.00 / Hardback, 308 pages
Publisher: Conran Octopus Ltd
September 2010
ISBN 9781840915563

With thanks to Fiona at Octopus Books

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.
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16 comments:

Louise said...

oh lovely my gran used to make these they were gorgeous hot or cold and especially with cream cheese :)

Snooky doodle said...

these look interesting and yummy :)

Kavey said...

Ooh these look good. I have the book and am planning to make something from it soon. I'd been wanting to bake today but didn't get around to it...

bellini valli said...

Well here is something I need to try Nic. Love the sultana and raisin cmobo.

nic@nipitinthebud said...

I'd not heard of 'Leon' restaurants/cookbooks until today and you're the second person to give them a glowing review. Worth investigating, although I'd rather thumb through a Cherrapeno cookbook ;o) ever thought about it?

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

this has sealed the deal that the 'Leon' cookbook is going on the Christmas must have list... lovely cakes!

Ananda Rajashekar said...

This is so good, will so give it a try!

Vanille said...

Oh, I'd love to have those Welsh cakes for breakfast this morning !

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I always mean to get a copy of a Leon book, I do love eating in there - and so does my son, he is totally in love with their meatballs!

Chele said...

Lovely! They look fantastic. this book has surely got to be the book of the month for bloggers, it has been so popular.

Antonia said...

I love Welsh Cakes but for some reason only ever eat them when on holiday in Wales. I have never tried to make them but now I have a good recipe, perhaps I will! Yours look so good.

grace said...

hello, welsh cakes, it's nice to meet ya! they look great, and i'm all for any excuse to break out the cast-iron. :)

mangocheeks said...

As a Welshcake by birth, I adore eating the real Welsh cake, but they must be warm - melt in your mouth.

Just purchased this book, I have to admit I do prefer the first more.

mangocheeks said...

PS I agree with Nic of Nip in the Bud, ever thought about a Cherrapeno cookbook?!

Choclette said...

This does sound like a fun cook book and you've done a good write up about it. Welsh cakes have been on my to do list for a long time, so good to have another nudge.

Jeanne @ CookSister said...

Oh I love Leon - I have their pvs cookbook but not this one (yet!). These look delicious :)