This is a recipe for Cacen Goch, a wonderful Welsh Treacle Cake from Bardsey Island, where it is also known as ‘Tamad’. This was eaten very often as an afternoon cake, and it is very moreish, tasting fruity, buttery and sweet. You can see why it was so popular, it is simple and quick to make; and with a dollop of whipped cream it goes very well with a cup of tea or coffee and lasts well if stored correctly.
Bardsey Island, where this Cacen Goch treacle cake comes from, is called Ynys Enlli in Welsh, and it is the legendary ‘Island of 20,000 saints’. It lies only 2 miles off the northern Llŷn Peninsula in the Welsh county of Gwynedd, and it can be seen on a clear day right down the Welsh coast as far as Aberystwyth. The Welsh name means ‘The Island in the Currents’, although its English name refers to the ‘Island of the Bards’. Both King Arthur and Merlin are reputed to be buried in a cave on the island, but today the island is one of the best places to watch rare sea life and sea bird life, particularly the grey seals, who appear in many local legends.
Cacen Goch Recipe
Made without eggs or raising agents the cake will not rise very much when baked so be sure to check after 45 minutes whether it needs longer or if it is ready to come out of the oven, do not over-bake this cake, it can dry out quickly.
- 300g Plain Flour
- 100g butter (softened and cut up)
- 180g of mixed dried fruit
- 3 tbsp of black treacle (molasses)
- 80g brown sugar (demerara)
- 1 tsp of ground mixed spice
- 100ml of milk
First grease an 18cm cake tin
Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingers to make a ‘breadcumb’ texture. Add in the fruit, spice, and sugar. Mix these in with a wooden spoon, then add in the treacle and mix further. Add in a little of the milk until the mixture becomes easy to stir, but not too ‘wet’, add more if a little dry.
Preheat the oven to 180C
Pour this mixture into the prepared cake tin – Cacen Goch will not rise much, so you can safely fill a small cake tin or individual cake tins almost to the top without worry – and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check it is done after 45 minutes by pushing a skewer into the centre and see if it comes out clean and hot. Leave to cool for ten minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. This Cacen Goch treacle cake can be eaten on the day but also can be stored in an air tight container for a week.
Serve warm, with a dollop of whipped cream, or cold as a slice of cake on its own, or with apple preserve.