Sly Cakes

Traditional English sly cakes are not cakes at all, but squares or fingers of puff pastry stuffed with a mixture of dried fruits and chopped apples. If the sultanas and currants have been given a preliminary soaking in brandy, rum or whisky the end result will be even nicer, but this is optional.


  • 450 g/ 1 lb puff pastry
  • 2 cooking apples
  • 60 g/ 2 oz butter, plus more for greasing
  • 60 g/ 2 oz muscovado sugar
  • 225 g/ 8 oz sultanas or currants
  • 60 g/ 2 oz mixed peel
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
  • icing sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of 1 cm / ½ inch, then trim and cut into 2 equal rectangles. Put one of them on a lightly greased non-stick baking tray.

Peel, core and dice the cooking apples, then fry them in the butter. When golden and starting to soften, add the muscovado sugar and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sultanas or currants, mixed peel and allspice.

Spread the mixture on the pastry rectangle on the baking tray. Put the other rectangle on top and press down gently. Cut a neat cross-hatch with a scalpel or sharp knife, then cut almost all the way through the top pastry to make 16 squares and brush with egg yolk.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, when the pastry will be well risen and golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool, before cutting along the indentations into squares. Finish by dusting with icing sugar.