Mum made them to the family recipe and grandma was a particularly prolific baker of them. It wasn’t until she was in her nineties that mum persuaded her to write the recipe down – for which I’m very grateful indeed.
In my memory now they were always around when I was growing up – a cup of tea and a bakestone.
Grandma used to send batches with me when I went to uni, always layered up with baking paper in a recycled biscuit tin. She knew, without ever needing to say it, that having a tin of cakes to hand round in those first couple of weeks was a great way to kick off new friendships. And there was many a fuzzy-headed morning when a breakfast of strong tea and a few bakestones was the only thing that got me out of bed and through the day.
It was also the first time I’d lived outside Wales and this was a welcome taste of home at a time when I was rediscovering my appreciation of Welshness.
Grandma’s sadly no longer with us – the last time I went to visit I took her a batch of bakestones I’d made for her. It’s her recipe and I think it’ll always be my favourite thing to cook.
4oz mixed fruit
1lb self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg (beaten in a cup, topped up with milk)
1. Soak the fruit in warm water
2. Mix together the sugar and flour
3. Rub in the marge to the flour/sugar mix. Drain and add the fruit.
4. Gradually add the egg/milk, mixing by hand until you have a dough that is firm enough to roll out (I’ve never used up a whole cupful)
5. Roll out to just under 1/2 inch thick before cutting out (traditionally with a fluted cutter)
6. Cook on a warm bakestone (low gas) until golden brown on the outside and cooked through in the middle
7. Dust with sugar
Grandma’s tips for prefect bakestones
1. Use a light touch when rubbing in and rolling out
2. Use “little man” flour. We worked out she means Homepride – the brand with the little man on the bag
3. Keep hands floured when handling the dough and cutting out
4. Always a warm bakestone – they’ll burn without cooking through otherwise
I don’t have a traditional bakestone – I use a wide, flat pancake pan, but any heavy, non-stick pan will do.
I prefer butter to marge in the recipe. Grandma thought this very decadent, told me off a bit but loved the end result!