CCJ Reports

The story behind Welsh cookies

Welsh cookies aren’t as widely known as sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies. For the most part, if people have heard of the Welsh cookie, that’s more than likely because it’s part of their family history. What started as a means of a quick breakfast and snack for Welsh miners has turned into a family tradition.

The Welsh cookie was a popular meal replacement in the 18th and early 19th century made by the wives and mothers of coal miners. The cake was fast to make and even faster to eat, which is good for mine workers who didn’t always have the conditions that allowed them to have time to properly eat.

The mines were damp, poorly ventilated and badly lighted, birds were used to detect methane gas and subject to frequent collapse. In early days donkeys with boys as handlers were used to haul coal wagons,” said Gean Harris, my grandfather, remembering what his father told him about the conditions he and his fellow miners worked in.

My family’s connection to the Welsh cookie on my mother’s side, her grandfather, great-grandfather and the men of the same generations worked the mines in Wales and then mines in America when they migrated in the 1930s.

So many of generations were needed for “King Coal” according to British Heritage Magazine because the Welsh mines became the world’s largest producers and were responsible for powering the Royal Navy for the 19th and early 20th century.

But now my family and most of the other coal mining families have moved onto other professions. My great-grandfather was the last to mine, but the Welsh cookie has stayed in our family from my great-great grandparents to my mom and her sisters and onto me, my brother and cousins.

The Welsh cookie isn’t used for miners food now. It’s more of a traditional food and holiday food now. My great-grandmother would make them when the grandchildren would visit but now my mom and I make them around Thanksgiving and Christmas and if we visit any family for the holidays.

That turn into a holiday treat is what gives the ‘Welsh cookie’ the cookie. The Welsh cookie originated as a Welsh Cake because the ingredients are similar to that of cake or bread. But unlike cakes, they weren’t baked, instead, the Welsh Cake was fried on a griddle

Whether it was made by loving and worrying wives for their miner husbands or it’s made by families for the holidays, the Welsh cookie is a staple of Welsh culture and is made as a way to celebrate that culture.

Welsh Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of boiled then soaked raisins that have been pressed for 24 hours
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients by hand and then roll out and cut with biscuit or cookie cutter.
  • Heat on a griddle or hot plate at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until light brown on both sides.

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