Eccles Cakes aren't really cakes, they are pastries or 'turnovers', but who am I to quibble when they taste this delicious?
What is an Eccles Cake?
So firstly, let' address what an Eccles Cake actually is. Its a parcel of flaky pastry filled with currants, candied peel, brown sugar and spices. It called an Eccles Cake because that is where they are from - Eccles in Lancashire.
I was never really a big fan of Eccles Cakes when I was younger, but that's mainly because I don't really like currants, and I can't stand candied peel. I mean, seriously, why does that stuff even exist? However, I really liked the idea of them. Spiced fruit surrounded by crumbly, buttery pastry.
So, now I'm older, and I realise I don't have to play by the rules, I decided to make my own Eccles Cakes but elevate them. Mine don't have the dreaded currants and definitely don't have the peel (bleurgh). Instead mine are filled plump sultanas and cranberries, coated with brown sugar and cinnamon. Because I think it's a match made in heaven.
I also think I might try fig and honey, or even date and dark chocolate in the future - watch this space.
Eccles Cakes Ingredients
Eccles Cakes are traditionally made with flaky pastry. Now, it's not that I can't make flaky pastry, but it is a bit of a faff. All that chilling, rolling and folding....life is just too short. So I bought ready rolled puff pastry from a supermarket. However, what I would say is that it's always a bit too thick, so I usually take my rolling pin to it to make it a bit thinner.
If you want a more traditional vibe, then go ahead and make your own flaky pastry!
As mentioned before inside is where the fun bit is. There are several different ways to make the filling. I have worked in a small, traditional bakery, where they mix cake crumbs in with currants, brown sugar and spices. It gives a lovely moist, sweet interior.
However, I went for coating the dried fruit in a mix that didn't include any extra cake crumbs. I didn't think it would mix as well with the sultanas and cranberries, and after doing my research didn't find any other recipes that used it.
I added Cinnamon and Mixed Spice to the fruit, which was just perfect. But you can leave that out, or mix it up for something else - totally your choice!
Folding and Patting Your Eccles
There is a technique to getting a good shape to your Eccles. I was taught this at the bakery, and after making several hundred (probably several thousand) I can now fold and pat down 150 Eccles in less than an hour.
Some recipes say you should start with a pastry round, but that is nonsense, and also a waste of pastry.
Take a square(ish) piece of pastry and place your filling in the centre. Bring up and join 2 opposite corners in the middle, and then the other 2 corners. This should leave you with creases, that you also bring up and pat into the centre. Once all the corners/folds are in place you hand on the centre and push down, squishing any bit lumps out flat - to be honest it's probably easier to watch the video below.
Turn the Eccles Cake over, and make sure it's a good round shape. Cut 2 slits in the top to let the steam out, give it an egg wash and sprinkle in sugar before baking.
Elevated Eccles Cakes Recipe
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 Baking Sheet
- 75 gms Light Brown Sugar
- 0.5 tspn Cinnamon
- 0.5 tspn Mixed Spice
- 15 gms Unsalted Butter or Baking Spread
- 75 gms Sultanas
- 25 gms Dried Cranberries
- 2 tspn Lemon Juice
- 1 Packet Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
- 1 Egg for eggwash
- 2 tspn Granulated Sugar
- Preheat you oven to 180c fan, 200c, 400f, GM6
- Line a baking sheet
- In a mixing bowl mix together the Light Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Mixed Spice
- Add the butter/baking spread and cream together
- Mix through the Sultanas, Cranberries and Lemon Juice and put to one side
- Unroll the packet of Puff Pastry and cut into 8 square (one cut length ways, and 3 cuts width ways)
- Take one square of puff pastry and roll it out a little more.
- Place 1 heaped tablespoon of fruit mix into the centre of the pastry
- Fold opposite corners over and press down
- Fold the other corners over and press down
- Fold the 4 creases into the centre and press down - you should have a round(ish) shape.
- With the palm/heel of your hand press down hard to flatten the bunched up pastry in the centre of the cake. Turn quarter of a turn, Flatten again, and continue until you have s flat, round shaped cake.
- Turn over, and cut 2 slits into the top
- Repeat this process with all 8 squares of pastry
- Place onto your baking sheet and brush with an egg wash
- Sprinkle with sugar
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.
For more on the history of Eccles Cakes, there is a great BBC Travel Post you can read.