Eccles cakes hold a special place in my heart. We had a dear family friend, Eunice, who’s Eccles Cake recipe was the very best. Eunice and her husband Jeff, became a third set of grandparents to my brother and I, feeding our love of travel and our stomachs.
Eunice was a keen baker and cook and I still have her hand-written letters which she would sign off with one of her signature recipes or a cutting of an unusual recipe that had caught her eye and wanted me to try out and report back the end results to her in my own written letters. Her recipes and letters are some of my most treasured possessions.
Every family holiday we went on, we made sure that a postcard was sent to Eunice and Jeff, noting our adventures and sights seen as well as local food savoured. When they both passed away a few years back, we received a box that contained all the postcards we had sent them and had been treasured for nearly 25 years, from my child scribbles to gap year adventures. Whilst traveling now, I still take a pause as a postcard stand and think I should be sending one to Eunice and Jeff.
Eunice swore that New Zealand butter was the finest around and should only be used when making shortbread or Eccles cakes or any baking really. I try to use New Zealand butter when making one of her recipes for nostalgic reasons but if you can’t get your hands on some, the best you can get will work.
When I was little, I thought these buttery sugary treats were called Ethel’s cakes mishearing the name with her Lancashire accent, which due to Eunice’s amazing sense of humour and good nature, they were then renamed for our visits with a chuckle. Whatever you call them, Eccles or Ethel’s, there is something indulgent about the buttery sugary shard of puff pastry studded with rich vine fruits and spice. Often served with a wedge of crumbly sharp Lancashire cheese, don’t trust me, give it a go and get back to me.
Eccles Cake Recipe
- 40 g Unsalted Butter New Zealand!!
- 200 g Currants
- 50 g Mixed Peel
- 100 g Light Muscovado Sugar
- 1 tsp of each Ground Cinnamon, Ground Ginger and Ground All Spice
- 1 Orange zest
- 600 g All Butter Puff Pastry If you have time of course homemade is much better
- 1 Free Range Egg White
- 75 g Golden Demerara Sugar
- If you’re making your own puff pastry, make it now to allow time to rest before rolling. If using shop bought, if pre-rolled, remove from the fridge for 30 minutes before starting to allow it to soften and make it easier to use. If not pre-rolled, roll the pastry to a £1 thickness and able to cut out 12 12cm in diameter circles from the dough. Set aside.
- Oven to 200C and line two trays with parchment paper. In a large pan, melt the butter. Take off the heat and add the fruit, spices, zest and sugar until well mixed.
- With water wet the edge border of a pastry, add a good tablespoon of filling to the centre and pinch the edges close to seal in the filling. With the seal at the bottom press on to the prepared trays, flatten until an oval and the fruit starts to poke through. Repeat with the remaining pastry discs and filling.
- Cut two little slits in the surface in each of the cake in the middle and brush each with the egg white and liberally sprinkle with the demerara sugar.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a deep golden colour. Leave to cool for 10 minutes to let the sugar settle and cool slightly until warm.
- Can be served with sharp crumbly cheese, preferably a Lancashire wedge.
Would you eat yours with cheese?
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