This time of year there is no seasonal fruit, except for champagne rhubarb, and so we have to turn to stored apples and pears or dried fruits. Some people don’t like dried fruits, but I am a definite fan, and thought an attempt at the classic Eccles cake was well overdue. There has been a bit of a disagreement in the house as to whether the recipe in English Food is actually a true Eccles cake or not – Charlotte reckons it should be made with puff pastry and Griggers (and me!) reckons a lard shortcrust pastry. A quick look in the Dairy Book of British Food gives an extra point to Charlotte. Does anyone know the true answer? Give me your opinions on this one please! I’d hope it is a lard-based answer as that seems more Northern English to me. Griggers says that if it made with puff pastry, you have a Banbury cake, which is Southern English. Oh well, we may never know.
Makes 10-12 cakes.
First of all, make some pastry using 4 ounces of lard and 8 ounces of plain flour. While it rests in the fridge make the filling: melt together an ounce of butter with 2 ounces of caster sugar, then stir in 4 ounces of currants, an ounce of candied peel, plus half a teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and allspice. Leave to cool. Roll out the pastry and cut out circles around four inches in diameter. Place a spoon of the currant mixture in the centre and bring in the pastry by its edges so that you can pinch them together. Turn the cake over and gently roll them to flatten them slightly. Make a hole in the centre, brush with a little egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake at 220⁰C for about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.
#226 Eccles Cakes. Whether they are true Eccles cakes or not, these were delicious. The filling was rich, but wasn’t too sweet and I liked the spice element (which I thought wasn’t in an Eccles cake). It also reminded me how good lard shortcrust pastry is. If you’ve never tried one – give it a go. 7/10.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
#226 Eccles Cakes
Posted by Neil Buttery at 8:56 PM
Labels: 7: Teatime, 7.2 Cakes and Tarts, cake, currants, dried fruit, north-west england
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Eccles cakes - yes!!! I grew up in the northwest, & seem to remember them being made with both kinds of pastry, but with puff pastry being more common. I started trying to find out more about this online, & almost every recipe has puff pastry. I did, however, find one source suggesting that the cakes with shortcrust pastry are in fact Chorley cakes.
In "Currants", a poem by Tony Harrison, he describes the Eccles Cake as his "petite madeleine" & describes his father, a baker, making them. Great Leeds poet.
I thought if it was puff pastry = Eccles Cake, shortcrust pastry = Chorley Cake! When I lived in Chorley, the cakes were all shortcrust :-D
No question. If it's not lardy shortcrust it's not an Eccles. There was a TV show on earlier this week - M Portillo playing trains in the Midlands. Stopped off in Eccles and toured the cake works. We all saw them being made - nothing flaky nowhere. All floury, lardy and sugary.
As ever, thanks for your blog . . . .
Also thanks - as ever - for your comments. i'm glad you agree Eric. Anth: I thought a Chorley cake was just a small Eccles cake
Nope Chorley cakes pretty much the same size as Eccles cakes from memory - they have both in the Chorley Tesco! The Eccles cakes that come from the factory on Hyde Rd near the Apollo have puff.
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