Not everyone may be familiar with Eccles Cakes unless they are British, and that's a shame. These small, fruit-filled pastries are a must-have for an afternoon tea session but aren't always easy to make. Unlike most cakes, Eccles Cakes are made from baked flaky pastry rounds filled with fruit like currants, sugar, butter, and spices, and that only summarizes it.

The flaky pastry alone is the challenging part given that it consists of a laminated dough similar to puff pastry. The latter is made by folding and rolling dough over large amounts of solid butter to create layers.

The former differs by substituting shortening for the butter to produce a flakier dough for the Eccles Cakes. Fortunately, these specifics aren't always required for these kinds of recipes.

Firstly, there's no mandate on the type of laminated dough required so regular puff pastry will do just fine. Secondly, since this is going to be a super simple recipe, it will call for ready-made puff pastry straight from the grocery store instead of homemade pastry. For those daredevils who want to make their flaky pastry from scratch, that's being saved for another recipe.

The recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz puff pastry dough sheet
  • Two tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Five oz dried currants
  • Two tbsp Demerara Sugar
  • One pinch cinnamon
  • Water and castor sugar as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Do not boil. Set to cool for a bit
  2. Pour the butter into a bowl. Stir all the other ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Place the pastry over a flour-dusted surface and roll out to one sixth inch thickness. Cut out discs with a four-inch cutter.
  4. Transfer a tablespoon full of the filling to the center of each disc and brush the sides with water. Fold the edges of the disc into the center to seal in the filling and flatten the discs to three inches in diameter with a rolling pin.
  5. Wash the tops of the unbaked cakes with water and dip into castor sugar. Cut three tiny slits in the tops of the unbaked cakes with a knife to reveal the filling. Set aside for 30 minutes
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cakes turn crisp and golden brown in color.
  7. Set to cool on a rack for a few minutes. Serve with tea.

Makes eight to 10 Eccles Cakes.

Variations

  • Chorley Cakes: Substitute shortcrust pastry mix for the puff pastry dough sheet
  • Banbury Cakes: Substitute a four-inch oval cutter for the round cutter in step three
  • Meat Cakes: Substitute four ounces of cooked mincemeat and two tablespoons of cake crumbs for the filling.

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