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There are many traditions and recipies unique to Wales, some of our favourites involve the use of a bakestone or slate slab. None more so than toffee or cyflath and no more so than at Christmas.
Making cyflath (also cyflaeth or cyflaith from the word llaith – wet or moist) was a family affair in many parts of Wales at Christmas. Many will remember their Nain or Mamgu making Cyflaith but how many of us still know how to pull toffee on a ‘llechen’ or slate slab? This is a classic recipe for cyflath but there are many local variations using dark brown sugar or also treacle.
At Goodwash we don’t like to miss out on a good thing so we’d like to share the art of pulling cyflath with you. And if you don’t have a slate hearth or slab handy you can use a marble worktop.
1.2kg of dark brown or demerera sugar
160 ml boiling water
45 mls fresh lemon juice
225 g softened salted Welsh butter
Using an enameled or stainless steel saucepan over low heat, gradually dissolve the sugar in the boiling water. Stir it continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. This usually takes from 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the lemon juice and the softened butter, and stir them into the sugar. Boil this mixture fairly briskly, WITHOUT STIRRING it, for 15 minutes.
Gently drop a teaspoonful of the mixture into a cupful of cold water; if it hardens at once, it has reached the required consistency (soft-crack stage).
Pour the mixture slowly onto a buttered slate slab or large flat dish. Do not scrape the saucepan clean as the scraping might turn the toffee back into sugar.
Use extra butter to butter your hands. Pull the cyflaith into long golden strands while it is still hot. This is a repeated pulling action, drawing the toffee out. This vintage video from Amgueddfa Cymru / Museum of Wales archive will help you master the process. Finally cut the cyflath into smaller bitesize pieces and leave to cool. This recipe makes about 1.5kg.
And good luck.
This poem celebrates the antics of Noson Cyflath (Toffee Evening).
Noson gyflath noson ddedwyd
Pawb a’i stori yn ei dro;
Nos gwneir llawer o ddireid;
Yma a thraw gan lanciau’r fro,
Noson hefyd sydd yn rhoddi
Gwir llawenydd ar bob tant;
Profi’r hynny pan fo’r cyflath
Wedi roi yn ‘sanau’r plant.
Cyflath evening, happy evening
Each with their tale to share;
An eve when mischief will unfold
By the folk of here and there,
An evening too that gives to all
A taste of joyful tidings;
See the proof, those happy eyes
The cyflath in the stockings.