A Sweet Treat – Eleanor’s Eclectic Eccles Cakes

So Eccles Cakes are from Eccles near Manchester. If you live in the North West, you notice how many places have tarts, cakes, pies and biscuits named after them. If I haven’t mentioned it before (and frankly I’m becoming a bit of a bore about it) I am a huge lover of afternoon tea. I love the hot teapot and the smell of brewing tea (I actually rarely drink tea as I no longer have much caffeine but I still love the smell), I love the doilies and the theatre of afternoon tea; cake plates, special silver knives, tea cups with saucers, a little tweezer thing for sugar lumps. This is all very much my kind of food. Now there’s dainty tea and I can’t wax lyrical enough about a cucumber sandwich but there’s also a more solid tea and I think Eccles cakes fall into the latter.

I had a bit of time the other morning and I wanted to make something that felt like a big deal but was actually rather easy and I fell upon Eccles Cakes. I do have the admission to make that I used shop bought puff pastry but I do often make either flaky pastry or rough puff and sometimes in a blue moon, real puff, but if you’re knocking these up for a sweet treat with a cup of tea, I would be actually a little disappointed if you didn’t use shop bought pastry.

This is also a brilliant recipe for using left overs, be it left over puff pastry, left over mincemeat, left over mixed peel or even left over butter if you’re making the pastry from scratch. In the UK, we waste 8.3 million tonnes of food a year (http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/about_food_waste) and whilst environmentally I’m probably awful this is costing each household in the region of £680 a year! Now I can happily imagine how many bottles of Chanel nail polish and a Mulberry bag that could stretch to!

If you’ve never eaten an Eccles Cake, you have to try them. The crunchy pastry and demerara sugar and the fruity insides are absolutely delicious. You can quite easily polish off a tray of these and I love them despite not liking raisins very much.

Eccles Cakes

  • 250g of puff pastry – rolled out thin
  • 75g of butter
  • 150g sugar (you could use soft brown or caster but soft brown makes it more treacly which is good!)
  • 150g currants
  • zest of one orange
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • a beaten egg to seal the pastry

to glaze:

  • milk
  • demerara sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or microwave.
  3. To this add all of the dry ingredients. Mix and leave to stand.
  4. Dust your worktop with flour and spread out your rolled pastry. Cut a circle about 8cm in diameter with a pastry cutter or around the bottom of a mug or glass.
  5. Take a pastry circle and place a 2cm round of filling in the middle, wash with egg around the sides of the filling and bring the corners of the pastry up into the middle sealing the little parcel with no holes.
  6. Turn the parcel upside down and roll a rolling pin gently over to flatten the top and pat into a round shape.
  7. Place these at a distance on a baking sheet and brush each with milk and sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.
  8. Cut 3 indentations into the top of each cake no longer than 1cm.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 mins or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling through the top.

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