A recipe for Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Cheese Toast) inspired by our visit to the Fredericksburg Welsh Festival! Toasted slices of bread are covered with a cheese sauce and broiled until golden.
We had a busy weekend in downtown Fredericksburg, VA last month! My dad attends classes at the LibertyTown Arts Workshop and the group took part in an art festival on September 19th.
He set up his easel and worked on his latest painting (of Evan!) on the sidewalk alongside many other artists and entertainers.
Fredericksburg Welsh Festival
After visiting my dad and letting Evan critique his painting, we walked a couple of blocks over to the 26th Annual Fredericksburg Welsh Festival.
One block further was also the Farmers Market (definitely a busy and crowded Saturday).
The Fredericksburg Welsh Festival (no longer active) was put together by the Welsh Society of Fredericksburg. The first festival was held in 1989 and called the “Little Welsh Festival”. It has since become an annual event (final one was in 2019).
Wales (Cymru) is located to the west of England and is a part of the United Kingdom. Until the 20th century, Cymraeg (the Welsh language) was the predominant language spoken.
English is now the most common save for a few pockets in Wales, but the percentage of speakers has begun to increase in the last few years.
There was entertainment throughout the day, from music and dancers to a Bard (storyteller/poet) presentation, language lesson, and introduction to Welsh customs.
While we were there, the music group Iona was on the stage. Iona was founded in 1986 by Barbara Tresidder Ryan and Bernard Argent.
Their music includes elements of Celtic- Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Cornish, Breton, Asturian, and Galician, along with Appalachian, Cape Breton, and Cajun influences.
Tents lined the street with vendors showcasing various Welsh and Celtic wares. There was face painting and activities to keep young children occupied.
I particularly enjoyed checking out the different objects on display. This Coracle (Cwrwgl) is a small, lightweight boat fit for one person. It is used to maneuver the swift streams and rivers in Wales.
With its small size, it is easily able to be carried to and from the water. Coracles are now more common in the tourist areas in Wales.
The Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers Guild demonstrated their skills with weaving, spinning, and knitting.
Chris Pugh (Sir Blackwolf) of Medieval Fantasies Company had a booth set up with bows, arrows, armour, and other weaponry.
Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Cheese Toast)
There wasn’t much Welsh food available at the festival, so I looked more into Welsh cuisine at home and came across Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Rabbit). This dish even has its own day on September 3rd.
Contrary to the name, there is no rabbit involved. Toasted bread, rye or country-style, is topped with a melted, bubbly cheese mixture (generally Cheddar) seasoned with beer, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
Serve immediately alongside a light salad for a quick and delicious lunch.
Want to dress up the Welsh Rabbit a bit? There are a few different variations.
Add a fried or poached egg on top to make a Buck Rarebit.
A Blushing Bunny has some tomato soup blended into the sauce.
Crisp bacon or sliced leeks are also delicious additions.
A Few Tips
Use a bread sturdy enough to hold the cheese topping without falling apart.
Avoiding beer? It can be swapped for milk. Some even add a little heavy cream.
I seasoned the sauce with a couple teaspoons of mild mustard. Some recipes use mustard powder.
The sauce should be thick enough to spread across the toasted bread with a spoon. If the mixture is too thick to melt the cheese, slowly add a little more (not too much or it will slide right off the bread!) beer or milk.
Not all recipes call for broiling the cheese. Some just pour the hot cheese sauce over the toasted bread slices. If you do broil the cheese, make sure you completely cover the top of the bread. Otherwise, the bread will burn before the cheese gets a chance to bubble.
If you are broiling before serving, the cheese sauce can actually be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to spread on the toast and place under the broiler. Keep a close eye on it. The broiler works quickly.
For a little color, you can top the Welsh Rarebit with a little chopped fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or thyme.
Looking for more recipes with toast?
Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Cheese Toast) Recipe
Adapted from Amuse Your Bouche
Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Cheese Toast)
- 8 slices bread
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup (160 milliliters) beer
- 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) mild mustard
- 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces (227 grams) Cheddar cheese shredded
- Chopped fresh herbs for topping, optional
- Toast the slices of bread on each side using a toaster or broiler.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Whisk in the flour and cook until golden.
- Slowly whisk in the beer and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.
- Mix in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to season.
- Reduce heat to low and add the shredded cheese. Whisk until melted and smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and remove from heat.
- Place the toasted slices of bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with the cheese sauce, using a spatula or spoon to gently push the sauce to cover the whole surface.
- Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and turns golden in spots.
- Serve immediately, topped with fresh herbs if desired.