Eccles cakes. In my opinion – they’re not cakes, or even biscuits – they’re pastries!
We watched the Great Sport Relief Bake Off recently and one of the celebrities’ challenges was to make Eccles cakes. Whilst watching, Justin started going on about how much he loves them and why haven’t I made them yet.
To be honest, they’ve not really been on my baking radar. For one, they involve pastry which I’m not fond of making. For two, they’re just pastry with currants. But, to placate him, I agreed… and I always need the pastry practice!
I zig-zaged around the web and amalgamated a few recipes I found there. Most called for candied peel and/or orange juice, neither of which I like, to be added to the currants. I’m often a recipe purist but not in this case!
Remember a couple of paragraphs ago I said Eccles cakes are ‘just pastry with currants’? How wrong was I? They were flaky, fragrant, buttery & delicious… and NOTHING like the dried up old things you find to buy in the supermarket.
Cakes & Bakes: Eccles cakes
- for the puff pastry
- 225g/8oz strong flour
- 225g/8oz slightly-salted butter, straight from the fridge, cut into 1½cm cubes
- 4tbs cold water
- 1tbs lemon juice
- for the filling
- 15g/½oz butter
- 100g/3½oz currants
- 50g/1¾oz golden caster sugar
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp ground nutmeg
- to finish
- drop of milk to brush the pastry
- 1 egg white, beaten to glaze
- 10g granulated sugar
- Put the flour and 225g/8oz slightly-salted butter into a food processor and pulse about half a dozen times. Just enough to combine and not cream the butter completely
- Empty mixture out into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the cold water & lemon juice
- With your fingerss, bring the mixture together just enough to form a loose ball of dough
- Empty mixture out on to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out into a rectangular shape
- Fold the dough into thirds along the long end and roll out into a rectangle again
- Repeat the last step another two times before wrapping in cling film (Saran wrap) and putting it into the fridge for about an hour
- In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the 15g/½oz butter and remove from the heat
- Add the currants, caster sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and combine well
- Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7
- When the dough has cooled, remove from the fridge and roll out again to about a 3mm/?in thickness
- Using a 10-12cm/4-4¾in-diameter cookie cutter ( I didn't have one big enough so used a small glass bowl ) cut out 12-15 rounds
- With a pastry brush, one at a time, brush the circumference of each round with milk, put a teaspoonful of the currant mixture in the centre and carefully fold up the pastry to the centre
- Flip over and gently flatten with a rolling pin until you just about see the currants through the pastry
- Make three, small parallel scores on the top before putting it on to a greased 39cm/15in x 27cm/10½in baking tray
- With a pastry brush again, egg wash the top of each pastry, sprinkle with granulated sugar and put the tray in the oven
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown
- Remove from the oven, allowing to cool on a wire rack before demolishing with a cup of tea! :-)