Eccles Cakes

These cakes have been made for the Eccles Wake for hundreds of years. It is said that their first commercial success came when Mrs Raffald, who was to the eighteenth century what Mrs Beeton was to the nineteenth century, gave her own secret recipe to a favourite servant girl as a wedding present. The girl went to live in the town of Eccles and made and sold the cakes so successfully that she made a fortune for herself and her husband.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (½ kg) short pastry
  • cup (120 g) currants
  • ¼ cup (30 g) finely chopped mixed candied peel
  • ¼ cup (60 g) castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Method

Put the currants, peel, sugar, butter, nutmeg and allspice into a saucepan and heat gently until the ingredients can be stirred together. Turn the mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Roll out the pastry to about ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick and cut into 4 inch (10 cm) rounds. Put 1 tablespoon of filling on each round, gather up the edges and pinch well together. Turn each cake over and press (without rolling) with the rolling pin to flatten; make a small slit in the top crust.

Place the cakes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 400°F (200°C, Gas Mark 6) for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and cool on a rack.

,