Forgotten food

In 1986, my mom and I moved from prairie Alberta to the suburbs of Vancouver. For the longest time, I divided my life into two distinct periods—before BC (in this case, British Columbia) and after—and mentally filed away my experiences accordingly.

Naturally, the move meant a lot of changes. Some were immediately obvious to 6-year-old me (suddenly I didn't ride a big orange bus to school), some took a few years (the trusty blue pick-up was eventually traded in for a four-door family car), and still others became apparent only over time (like what we ate).

In the streamlined version of history that resides in my head, we drove into the Rockies eating cream of potato soup and came out the other side munching on greens and bagels. In reality, our diet gradually evolved to suit our new life (one that didn't include men working in fields or tending to cattle, a 20-kilometre car ride to the nearest major grocery store or drinking water hauled up pail by pail from a well by the side of the road) and the evolving times (hello low-fat craze of the late '80s/early '90s).

Overall, I'd say it was a positive change. But every once in awhile one of those forgotten foods will pop into my head unannounced and demand to be reconsidered—usually with good reason.

That was the case for these welsh cakes. A forgotten food worth remembering.

Welsh Cakes
2 cups flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup salted butter + extra for cooking
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/4 rounded teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 egg

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and lemon zest.

Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the raisins. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until a dough begins to form. Use your hands to gather the mixture into a ball, as you would pie pastry.

Preheat a griddle to 360 degrees Fahrenheit or heat a frying pan on the stovetop over medium heat.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch. Cut into 3-inch rounds.

Lightly grease the heated griddle or frying pan with a slick of butter. Fill the pan with welsh cakes. Cook the cakes until lightly browned on the underside, flip and repeat (about 2-3 minutes per side). You may have to adjust your stovetop temperature as you go. Lightly re-grease between batches.

Source: Mom's recipe file.

Notes: The original recipe calls for 1/4 butter and 1/4 lard, a flat 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/3 cup currants (rinsed and drained) and no lemon zest.