Hunt is on for first world Welsh Cake Champion

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WELSH CAKES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS... Pictured is Linda Jones with Gerraint Hughes from Jones crisps who are sponsoring the event.

The hunt is on for the first-ever world champion Welsh Cake maker.

Bakers are being invited to show off their culinary skills at the inaugural Jones Crisps World Welsh Cake Championships in Llandudno in November.

WELSH CAKES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS… Pictured is Linda Jones with Gerraint Hughes from Jones crisps who are sponsoring the event.

The contest on November 17, organised by Welsh-based Jones Crisps, will celebrate the rich heritage of one of Wales’ favourite culinary treats, with entries expected from bakers around the globe.

The cook who is crowned Traditional Welsh Cake Champion will bag a year’s supply of Jones crisps, plus £150 and a specially-made trophy, while the winner of the Alternative Flavour Welsh Cake will win £50 and a case of Jones Crisps.

The contest, part of the popular Llandudno Christmas Fayre, will be held at the town’s  Trinity Church, and is being run in partnership with Bodnant Food Centre Wales, Go North Wales, Llandudno Chamber of Trade and Merched y Wawr.

Registration has to be in by November 12. Entries, with a sample of four cakes, need to arrive at the church hall between 5pm to 7pm on November 16  while postal entries must land at Jones Crisps head office in Conwy’s Riverside Business Park by November 16. Each entry must be accompanied by a list of ingredients showing clearly what has been used to bake the Welsh Cakes.

Delyth Jenkins of Ffos y Ffin near Aberaeron, Ceredigion, will lead the judging panel.  A keen Merched y Wawr member and cook, Delyth won last year’s Jones Crisps Bara Brith World Championships and her winning bake is now on sale to the public.

Geraint Hughes of Jones Crisps said: “I love Welsh Cakes and I want to celebrate the very best that Wales has to offer.

“For me, it’s a real taste of Cymru and something that we should be proud about. It’s a simple snack made from butter, flour, sugar currants and eggs, though  it’s known by a variety of names in different areas of Cymru, such as Picau ar y Maen, Pice Bach, and Theisen Radell.

“Also, some cooks like to add extra spicing or ingredients to their recipes, so we’ve added an Alternative Flavour class, as well as the Traditional category. For example, recently in her BBC2 cookery show Nadiya Hussain, winner of the Great British Bake-off, added her twist to Welsh Cakes by adding fennel seeds and a blueberry coulis – though it did lead to some raised eyebrows here in Cymru.

“This competition is all about fun so we are expecting some wild and whacky tastes for the Alternative Flavour section – I’m sure the judges will be up to the task to sampling the entries, no matter how unusual.

“We are expecting entries from across Wales and also around the world. When we held the World Bara Brith Championships last year, we had entries from Japan and Australia.

“Though many people will be bringing their fresh-baked entries along on the evening before the contest, those cooks living further afield can mail them to our head office in Conwy.

“In addition, Merched y Wawr will be working on getting multiple entries to Llandudno on time – so I’d urge people to get in touch with their local branch for more information, or by visiting merchedywawr.cymru.

“Also, where possible, we’d prefer that people use local produce to ensure that their cakes are as Welsh as possible.”

Merched y Wawr member Linda Jones from Rhiwlas near Bangor will be working with fellow branch members to encourage people to take part.

Mrs Jones, who was a home economics teacher at Ysgol Glan y Mor in Pwllheli before teaching food technology at Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen, loves cooking up a batch of Welsh cakes when her grandson Tomos, three, and his six-year-old sister Nel visit.

The 70-year-old mum-of-two said: “I’ve taught hundreds of children over the years how to make Welsh Cakes, and I look forward to making them with my grandchildren.

“I always think Welsh Cakes are at their best, eaten when they are just warm from the pan, sprinkled with sugar. Obviously, it’s just an occasional treat but one that really is a taste of home, and so easy to make.

“I like to use good locally made butter, such as that from Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, and I sieve the sugar with the flour and spices – that makes it much lighter. Also, mix in the egg with a knife, not a spoon, as it gives a much better crumb.”

Jones Crisps is the only crisps company based in Wales and owned by Welsh food entrepreneurs. The crisps are made with 100% Welsh grown potatoes. Each crisp is hand cooked in high oleic sunflower oil, to produce excellent old fashioned crisps with a proper thick crunch and punchy flavours. Jones Crisps is proud to support outdoor events across Wales including the Cardiff Triathlon, Slateman, E-tape Eryri and Jones Crisps Anglesey Half Marathon.

For more details on the Jones Crisps World Welsh Cake Championships visit www.madryn.co.uk or call 01758 701380

Visit www.madryn.co.uk for an entry form and details about the competition and where to send it.

Linda’s version of Welsh Cakes

Ingredients 225g self-raising flour, ½ tsp mixed spice, pinch of salt, 100g butter, 50g currants, 75g caster sugar, one egg, a splash of milk.

Method Sieve the flour, sugar, spice and salt into a bowl. Cut up the butter and rub into the flour mix until it forms breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and pour into the bowl, then using a knife bring the mix together to form a dough – it should look similar to shortcrust pastry. If it’s a little dry add a splash of milk, only if needed. Roll out gently until ¼in thick  then cut the cakes out with a 2in cutter, using the plain side. Warm a flat griddle or frying pan on a moderate heat on the hob, and wipe with butter. Cook the cakes for three minutes on each side, serve sprinkled with caster sugar.