L—R: Ann Romney’s wrong Welsh cakes; my perfectly baked right ones.
In the campaign’s latest attempt to remind us that the Romneys are just like the rest of us, Mitt’s “body man” recently tweeted a photo of Ann Romney baking “her famous Welsh cakes” for delegates in Tampa. She reportedly tweaked a recipe handed down from her Welsh grandmother. No! This is wrong!
As a Welsh man (born in Cardiff) who spent his childhood burning the roof of his mouth on Welsh cakes sneaked off the cooling rack a minute too early in the kitchen of his paternal grandmother’s rural Welsh home, I’m here to tell you that Ann Romney’s cakes are no good. No good at all.
First things first, here’s a recipe very similar to my grandmother’s for proper Welsh cakes. Now, Ann’s dough looks okay — it’s the right color and appears to be the right consistency, though I would suggest using more raisins — but the way she used that dough is incorrect. Ann’s problem is size: Her cakes are far too thick. You need to fry Welsh cakes just so — long enough to see a rich brown color on the outside and, crucially, to cook through the whole mix, but without burning the crust. There shouldn’t even be a “crust,” really. This means getting your pan or skillet’s temperature just right, and making sure the cakes are correctly sized — about the size of a coaster, ideally about a half-inch thick, and certainly no more than a full inch. (Here’s a handy picture of some of my pre-cooked cakes, which I took with me to show off my cultural heritage while visiting my boyfriend’s family last Thanksgiving. Everybody liked them.) Ann’s cakes look to be between two- and three-inches thick, which means their centers will be almost certainly stay raw if she’s avoiding burning the outsides. The only way she could salvage them post-skillet would be to cut off the inevitably blackened edges afterward. And that’s cheating.
Welsh-cake purists like myself also object to the use of electric mixers, like the one you can see on Ann’s pristine kitchen countertop. The cakes retain a better, more earthy consistency if you use your hands; it’s also more fun to knead them, and you get to lick the dough off your fingers afterward.
A Washington Post reporter described the cakes as “delicious.” To be as blunt as a true Welsh person should be, this is unlikely. Ann, if you’d like a lesson in how to bake these cakes properly, I’m available. I’ll even buy us matching aprons emblazoned with the Welsh flag.