I am welsh, therefore I had these on a regular basis as a child and loved them. Traditionally, they were cooked on a ‘bake-stone’ or an iron equivalent. This is what my mother and grandmother used, heated directly on a gas hob… but there are plenty of alternative methods for the more modern cook.
If you have an Aga or similar range, you might have a griddle, which is perfect.
Basically, you need something heavy that will hold a constant dry heat in order to make these rise as they are not cooked in the oven!
Any heavy based frying pan will do, although not ideal. The heavy Le Creuset pans are the best, pan-wise.
Whatever you are using, start getting it hot now – a medium heat. You will also need the following ingredients.
500g plain flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
A good pinch of salt
250g of diced cold butter – and extra to line the griddle/pan
200g of caster sugar (unrefined if possible) – plus some extra for dusting if you want
180g of sultanas or currants (I prefer sultanas, but currants are the more traditional choice. You can also leave them plain if you like, with no fruit at all, which my wife prefers)
3 eggs – large fresh and organic if possible
80ml full fat milk
Sift the flour and baking powder into a deep mixing bowl. Throw in the salt too. Dry whisk this until well combined.
Add the cubed butter and either use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, or use a processor to do it.
Either way, you want something akin to breadcrumbs as a result. It can take a while in a processor, on a slow to medium speed, but it does work. Don’t rush it as the flour goes everywhere (I’ve been there).
Then add the fruit and sugar and mix these in well, by hand, so they are distributed evenly throughout.
Beat the eggs lightly and add to the flour mixture (make a well in the centre for this).
Add about 20% of the milk and start incorporating this into the flour.
Keep adding 20% more, mixing, then another 20%, until the whole lot is mixed in and you have a ball of soft dough.
Flour a clean work surface and your hands – be generous – this is a sticky dough.
Grab a golfball size of dough and roll it into a ball, using the floured surface.
Squash the ball into a 1 cm deep cake shape; manipulate with your hands to get a shape approximating a circle.
Put this to one side and make a few more; however many you can fit on your griddle/pan.
Once you have a batch, wipe a little butter on the pan/griddle just to make sure they don’t stick.
Drop the cakes one by one onto the pan/griddle. Cook them for about 4 minutes on each side – this will depend on the cooking medium and the temperature – so watch the first batch to see how quickly they brown as they do burn easily. Flip them over once one side is done – watch them rise too; that is the dry heat making the baking powder kick into action. You want to make sure they don’t burn, but are cooked in the middle.
Whilst they are cooking, make your next batch ready to go into the pan/on the griddle.
Transfer the cooked ones onto a wire rack to cool and dust with caster sugar if you like.
Serve sugared, or with butter, you can use cream and jam like a scone, honey is great too. I prefer just butter.