This is a very famous and very old Welsh dish going back hundreds of years, and which has varied very little over time. The recipe we are following comes from 1867 and was written down by Augusta Hall – it comes from her book which is said to contain the recipes communicated to ‘The Traveller’ by the ‘Welsh Hermit’ of the Cell of St Cover in Gwent … “Once upon a time, not very long ago, there was an aged Welshman who lived in a house cut out of a rock adjoining the cell and opposite the Well of St. Cover (in Gwent). He was always called the Hermit (Meudwy) by his Cambrian countrymen, and had been remarkable in his youth for acquiring a practical knowledge of whatever art he deemed it useful to understand”.
Within this amusing and strange book is a recipe for Caws Bobi, (or Caws Pobi – a more common name) which is a Welsh version of ‘Cheese on Toast’ or Welsh Rabbit or Welsh Rarebit, (depending on how you think it should be spelt or pronounced). In 1867 Augusta Hall says this dish was recognised as the ‘celebrated national dish of Wales’. Whether this is true or not, other dishes should probably claim that title, Caws Bobi is a wonderful dish, particularly if made with Welsh Cheese.
Caws Wedi Ei Bobi Recipe
Enough for 2 people.
- 4 thick slices of fresh bread
- 200g Caerphilly Cheese
- 60g butter
Cut thick slices of bread (3cm thick) from a fresh loaf. Put them under the grill to toast on both sides until golden brown. Scrape butter over the tops of the bread and then lay a slice[s] of welsh cheese over each toasted bit of bread so that each buttered surface is covered. Put the toast back under the grill until the cheese melts and slightly blisters. Serve hot.
Should this dish be called Bobi or Pobi, Rabbit or Rarebit? Different spellings and pronunciations down the years have made this an almost impossible task to sort out. To add to the mystery the Welsh fondness for ‘caws bobi’ was first recorded by Andrew Boorde, an English Tudor Physician, in his work, ‘Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge’, published in 1548 A.D. “The second chapytre treateth of Wales … I am a Welshman and do dwel in Wales … I do love cawse boby, good roasted cheese …”
From ‘The First Principles Of Good Cookery’ Published in 1867
By: Augusta Hall
This celebrated national dish of Wales will appropriately conclude the present collection of recipes, which were especial favourites in the cell of the Welsh Hermit, and which, in honour of his Principality, is here given in the original language as well as in English. Welsh toasted cheese, and the melted cheese of England, called ” toasted cheese,” are as different in the mode of preparation as is the cheese itself; the one being only adapted to strong digestions, and the other being so easily digested that the Hermit frequently gave it to his invalid patients when they were recovering from illness, and found that they could often take it in moderation without inconvenience when the appetite and digestion were not sufficiently restored to take much, (if any) meat, without suffering – the same observation will apply to the Welsh sheep’s milk cheese without toasting, which can often be taken with bread or biscuit and a glass of cold water, with benefit by invalids with weak digestions.
WELSH TOASTED CHEESE.
Cut a slice of the real Welsh cheese made of sheep and cow’s milk, toast it at the fire on both sides, but not so much as to drop; toast a piece of bread, less than a quarter of an inch thick, to be quite crisp, and spread it very thinly with fresh cold butter on one side (it must not be saturated with butter), then lay the toasted cheese upon the bread and serve immediately on a very hot plate; the butter on the toast can, of course, be omitted if not liked, and it is more frequently eaten without butter.
CAWS WEDI EI BOBI.
Torrer darn o gaws Cymreig gwneuthuredig o laeth defaid a gwartheg, pober y ddwy ochr o flaen y tan ond nid cymmaint ag i ddiferu; eraser tafell o fara (llai na chwarter modfedd o drwch) yn grych, a thaener ymenyn newydd oer yn deneu iawn ar un ochr iddo (rhaid iddo beidio cael ei lenwi o ymenyn), yna rhodder y darn caws pobedig ar y bara, ac anfoner ef i’r bwrdd ar ddysgl boeth yn ddiattreg. Gellir peidio rhoddi ymenyn ar y bara crasedig, os dewiser, ac yn amhf bwytteir ef hebddo.