Eccles cakes

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • For

    10

    small

Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

Eccles cakes are traditionally 10 cm (4 inches) wide. I’ve given the option to make a small version that is half the size, but feel free to make larger ones.

Ingredients

For the quick puff pastry

  • 240 g ( oz) butter, cut into cubes no larger than 1 cm (½ inch)
  • 240 g ( oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 130 ml (4 fl oz) ice-cold water
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash
  • coarse white sugar or raw (demerara) sugar

For the filling

Method

Put the diced butter in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and place in the fridge if you have space.

Take the butter from the freezer and the bowl from the fridge. Toss the butter in the flour so that the butter is coated with flour. This will prevent sticking.

Pulse the mixture twice for 1 second. Add half of the cold water and pulse three times, then add the rest of the water and pulse six times.

Dust your work surface with flour and take the dough out of the bowl. Push the dough flat with your hands but do not knead it – the small chunks of butter that are visible in the dough must be preserved and not be blended with the flour.

Dust the dough with flour and pat it flat into a square with a rolling pin. Fold the dough in three parts like a letter, pat it down lightly with the rolling pin and then fold it in three again, but in the opposite direction. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The dough will be marbled with the butter and that is the intention. Repeat the folding and chilling step three times.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roll out the dough until it is 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Cut out circles from the dough using a 9 cm (3½ inch) cutter for small cakes or an 18 cm (7 inch) cutter for large cakes. Brush the dough circles with the egg wash and place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each small round or 2 teaspoons in the middle of each large round. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling like a purse. Push the dough together with your fingers to seal it, then turn the parcels over with the seam underneath. The tops of the parcels should look perfectly smooth.

Place the parcels on the baking tray and cut three slashes in the top of each. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the Eccles cakes in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Serve as a sweet cake or with cheese. Lancashire cheese is traditional, but blue cheeses work wonderfully as well.