Eccles cakes are yet another exotic English treat recommended by our friends Dave and Michele. They sounded good to me, but I’m ambivalent about making them now because these are little pastries filled with currants and candied peel, but that’s winter food, and it’s summer. We have beautiful fresh fruit; why bake with preserved fruit? I guess the answer is “Because Michele suggested it.”
The recipe Michele sent calls for “flaky pastry,” which apparently can be flaky pie crust, puff pastry, or something in between. I used something in between, quick puff pastry (also called rough puff pastry or blitz puff pastry). This is a lot like flaky pie crust except it has a lot more butter: You use equal weights of flour and butter, and you use less water than I normally do for flaky pie crust. You roll and fold the dough just as you do for regular puff pastry, and it doesn’t puff so dramatically as puff pastry, but it does puff and it’s very flaky.
Preheat the oven to 220℃ (425℉)
Have chilled and ready: 500 g flaky pastry (a batch of flaky pie crust dough for a double crust pie will do nicely)
25 g melted butter
100 g sugar
50 g candied peel
200 g currants
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and butter and cook over a medium heat until melted
2. Off the heat, add currants, candied peel, nutmeg and allspice
3. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry thinly and cut into rounds of about 0.5 cm thickness and 10 cm diameter
4. Place a small spoonful of filling onto centre of each pastry circle
5. Dampen the edges of the pastry and draw the edges together over the fruit and pinch to seal
6. Turn over, then press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the cakes
7. Flatten and snip a V in the top with scissors. Place on a baking tray
8. Brush with water and sprinkle with a little extra sugar
9. Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes (220°C) or until lightly browned round the edges
10. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
I found a few points in this recipe that could be improved editorially. The ingredients list says “melted butter,” but you cook the butter and sugar over medium heat until melted. Am I melting the sugar, then? I didn’t melt the butter first, and what I ended up with wasn’t liquid: The butter melted, but the sugar stayed granular. I decided that was okay and went with it. The ingredients list says “nutmeg,” but the directions say “nutmeg and allspice,” and nowhere does the recipe say how much. I used ½ tsp of each just to cover my bases. As for how much filling to use in each pastry, I’m not sure how much a “small spoonful” is; I went with about half a tablespoon.
These were pretty tasty, and I’ll definitely make them again in the cold weather.