My Dad was from Holyhead in North Wales. He left Holyhead to join the merchant navy in WWII and met Mam at the end of the war in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England. That’s where my sister and I were born and lived until we came to Canada. Our summer holidays were spent in Holyhead. Mam, my sister and I went for the full six weeks, and Dad followed for his two week holiday. We traveled by train to Manchester where we spent a few days with Dad’s sister and our cousins.

Holyhead was a wonderful place for two young sisters to spend their summers. Our Nain’s (Welsh for grandmother) house was about a five minute walk from the beaches and the Irish Sea. It was a safe place, so even though we were young we had a lot of freedom. It was a pretty quiet place as there were few cars in the fifties. Sunday was considered a day of rest. Nain cooked on Saturday. On Sunday cold food was served. Many of the Welsh went to chapel three times on Sundays. The Welsh have always been wonderful singers. I can remember walking by churches where you could hear the sound of singing outside.

There’s lots more about Holyhead that I’ll probably write other times. Today I want to share a recipe. March 1st was Saint David’s Day, the patron Saint of Wales. Every year, I make ‘PICE AR Y MAEN’, (Welsh Cakes) for Saint David’s Day. In South Wales they call them “South Wales Cakes’ and count them as their specialty. They were traditionally cooked on a bake-stone, but I cook them in cast iron frying pans. The recipe comes from an old Welsh cookbook.

I lb. (4 cups) plain flour 6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) raisins
1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon mixed spice or mace (optional)
10 oz. (1 ½ cups) butter 6 oz. (¾ cup) sugar
Pinch of salt 1 egg
A little milk

Mix together the flour and baking powder with the salt, then rub in butter. Add sugar, spice and fruit. Mix in the beaten egg and just enough milk (about 3 tablespoons) to make it the same consistency as a short crust pastry. Turn out onto a floured board, roll out and cut into rounds about three inches across and ½ inch thick. (I use a juice glass to cut them which is a bit smaller.) Cook over a medium heat in a lightly greased pan or bake-stone for about 3-4 minutes on each side. If they brown too quickly, lower the heat, for the inside must have time to cook thoroughly. I tend to cook them slowly over a slightly lower heat. Serve either hot or cold with butter, sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, jam or honey. Makes about 20 when cut to three inches.

These were always popular when I took them to school to share with the staff. They are still popular with whoever I share them with, and I know some cousins in Wales would love to have some.

The picture is Welsh doll in a traditional Welsh costume.

About the Author

Linda Calder is a retired teacher. She likes to write and enjoys spending time with her family. She also enjoys going on cruises, taking pictures and scrapbooking.