Sunday, 26 February 2017

Eccles Cakes

Eccles Cakes are named after a town in Lancashire, England.  They are made with a flaky pastry, though some people use puff pastry, and have a spicy currant and chopped peel filling.  I really like Eccles Cakes, and especially the lovely flaky pastry.  I make mine with all butter, using a recipe from BBC Good Food, though varying the technique slightly.

The recipe above says it will make 8 but, depending on size, you can get more than that. Instead of cutting my pastry to 12cm circles I used a 10cm (4 inch) cookie cutter.  That allowed me to actually make 18 Eccles cakes, of a reasonable size.

As I had cut out smaller rounds than recommended in the recipe, I kept an eye on them as they baked in case i needed to remove them sooner than suggested for the larger ones, but 20 minutes was an ideal time for them to colour nicely and to cook the pastry right through.

They taste great, the lovely buttery and flaky pastry and the rich, fruity filling are ideal to be eaten whilst still warm.  But they are also great when completely cooled down.  They are not overly sweet either, since there is no sugar in the pastry, just in the filling.  I just love them and can hardly stop eating them.


Eccles Cakes
Eccles Cakes - Video
Ingredients:
For the pastry
  • 250g block cold butter, cut in cubes and placed in the freezer to go very hard
  • 350g plain flour
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 100ml iced water
For the filling
  • 25g butter
  • 200g currants
  • 50g mixed chopped peel
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger and ground allspice
  • zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  •  3tbsp of orange juice
To glaze
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp preserving sugar, or granulated sugar if you don't have preserving sugar
Method:
  1. Melt the 25g of butter in a saucepan.
  2. In a bowl mix the currants and chopped peel together.
  3. Add the spices and the muscovado sugar and mix again.
  4. Add the lemon and orange zest, and the orange juice and mix again.
  5. Pour in the melted butter and mix for a final time until all is combined.  Then set aside until needed.
  6. Tip flour into the bowl of a food processor with half the butter and pulse to the texture of breadcrumbs. 
  7. Pour in the lemon juice and 100ml iced water, and pulse to a dough. 
  8. Tip in the rest of the butter and pulse a few times until the dough is heavily flecked with butter. It is important that you don’t overdo this as the flecks of butter are what makes the pastry flaky.
  9. On a floured surface roll the pastry out to a neat rectangle about 20 x 30cm. 
  10. Fold the two ends of the pastry into the middle , then fold in half . 
  11. Roll the pastry out again and refold the same way 3 more times resting the pastry for at least 15 mins each time between roll and fold, then leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins before using.
  12. Heat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F and line one or two baking trays with parchment paper.
  13. To make the cakes, roll the pastry out until it’s just a little thicker than a £1 coin and cut out rounds about 12cm across, use a smaller cutter if you dont want large ones, I used at 10cm cookie cutter. 
  14. Re-roll the trimming if needed, and cut out again.
  15. Place a good heaped tablespoon of mixture in the middle of each round.
  16. Brush the edges of the rounds with water, then gather the pastry around the filling and squeeze it together . 
  17. Flip them over so the smooth top is upwards and pat them into a smooth round. Flatten each round with a rolling pin to an oval until the fruit just starts to poke through, then place on a baking tray. 
  18. Cut 2 little slits in each Eccles cake and brush generously with egg white and sprinkle with the sugar .
  19. Bake the Eccles cakes for 15-20 mins until  golden brown and sticky. 
  20. Leave to cool on a rack and enjoy while still warm or cold with a cup of tea. If you prefer, Eccles cakes also go really well served with a wedge of hard, tangy British cheese such as Lancashire or cheddar.

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