Eccles (rhymes with ‘freckles’) Cakes are little pastries that hold a filling of spiced currants with a sparkling, crunchy sprinkling of sugar on top. They are named for the town of Eccles in North West England. Fun fact: in 2008 in the town of Salford at the Salford Food and Drink Festival, the world’s largest Eccles Cake was made, and weighed in at 123 pounds 14 ounces!
Eccles Cakes are traditionally made with puff pastry. In my recipe I use Buttery Pastry Dough instead, still light and flaky. They also traditionally have two or three parallel slits cut into the tops. I opted instead to make two C-shaped cuts… two C’s for Eccles!
The “mixed spice” blend that bathes the currants includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and coriander. The consensus in our house is that these cakes taste like Christmas. They are a unique, sweet treat to enjoy any old time. After all there are plenty of traditional treats made with cinnamon and nutmeg for the holidays, like Ginger Cookies and Molasses Cookies. So Eccles Cakes should certainly get the spotlight during the rest of the year.
Another fun fact: this is the 9th Doctor, Doctor Who that is. And he’s played by Christopher Eccleston! I wonder how often he’s asked whether he likes Eccles Cakes.
They (the cakes) are especially pleasing for breakfast or afternoon snack, alongside a piping hot cup of coffee or tea.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup dried currants (I found these at my regular grocery, by the raisins)
- ¾-cup granulated sugar
- ¾-teaspoons Mixed Spice Blend
- Buttery Pastry Dough recipe, chilled
- 1 egg white
- ¼-cup decorating sugar (if you don’t have this use granulated instead)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and position the rack in the center of the oven. Line a large baking sheet (18” x 13” half sheet pan-sized) with parchment paper.
- Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted stir in the currants, the ¾-cup of sugar and the Mixed Spice Blend. Add two tablespoons of water and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the fruits are coated and softened: about 5 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick stir in a little more water. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out half of the Buttery Pastry Dough to a thickness of 1/4″. Cut out 5″ circles from the dough. (I have a Pastry Guide from Talisman Designs that makes this easy. You can also use a small bowl, saucer, or whatever you have on hand as a guide to cut the circles.) Reroll the scraps and cut out more circles until all the dough is used.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of fruit filling into the middle of a dough circle. With floured hands, pull up the edges of the circle to the center to make a little pouch. Pinch the dough at the top to seal it, and tuck the seam down. Carefully turn the cake over in your hand and gently push the cake down to flatten it. Place the cake on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough circles, placing them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Use a very sharp paring knife to cut two or three slits in the top of each cake. Traditional Eccles Cakes have parallel cuts; on mine I make two C-shaped cuts (two c’s for Eccles!)
- Beat the egg white in a small dish with a whisk. Brush each cake with the beaten egg white. Sprinkle the decorating sugar over the tops. Place the cakes onto a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with water.
- Bake the cakes for 13 to 15 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. Transfer the finished cakes to a cooling rack.
- While the first batch of Eccles Cakes bakes, you can take out the second half of the pastry dough and repeat steps 3 through 7 to make the rest of the cakes.
- I highly recommend devouring these while they’re warm! They can also be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Makes 15 Eccles Cakes