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tilley's aberffraw cake


Aberffraw cakes with tilley

Aberffraw is a small village on the Isle of Anglesey in Northern Wales where Aberffraw cakes originate from. The shortbread cookie's shape is created from imprinting the dough on the back of a small queen scallop shell. The shells were historically found on the shores of Aberffraw. Aberffraw Cakes are translated to Teisen Berffro in Welsh.  The second name for these cookies is "Cacen Jago" or St. James Cakes because they utilize a scallop shell which is the iconic symbol of the pilgrimage to St. James Basilica in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Tilley's cakes are based on a shortbread recipe with a simple 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to caster sugar. Growing up, Tilley won first prize in Aberffraw for making these delicious cookies at her town agricultural show. 

Aberffraw cakes recipe: 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
*Makes 12 cookies
Aberffraw cakes directions:
*scallop shell needed
makes 8-10 cakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (165°C)

  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until fine crumbs are formed. Continue to rub and knead until a smooth dough is formed. If your dough is too dry and is not sticking together add a bit more butter or a squeeze of orange or lemon juice, about a tablespoon.

  3. Grease a cookie sheet with a light layer of butter.

  4. On a flat working surface, mix a bit of flour and sugar together and set aside. This will be used to coat the outside of the scallop shell so that the dough doesn't stick to the shell. Coat the shell with the flour & sugar before molding every cake.

  5. To shape the cakes, take a golf ball sized amount of dough and press it at the base of the coated shell. Press evenly until the dough is about 1 cm thick. Flip the shell over and let the cake fall into your hand. You might have to pull at the edge a bit for the cookie to fall from the shell. Place the cake on the greased baking sheet.

  6. Bake the cakes for about 10-15 minutes or until they are a light golden brown on the edges. *Since all ovens have different hot spots, check on the cakes about 5 minutes after baking to see if some are getting too brown on the bottom. Rotate the pan if needed. 

Aberffraw cakes ingredients:

This recipe is a simple shortbread recipe shaped on scallops. The below ingredients are for 8 medium sized cakes.

  • 1/4 cup (58 g) of Superfine Sugar or Caster Sugar  +1 tbsp extra to dust the shell

  • 1 stick (116 g) of Salted Butter (about 1 stick) at room temp.

  • 1 1/4 cups (174 g) of All Purpose Flour + 1 tbsp extra to dust the shell


*The dough is made using a 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to sugar by weight so you can scale up or down quite easily. If you are using a very dry flour you might need more butter.

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