They're called cakes but technically they're pies—and we love them whatever they are. There are 101 recipes for Eccles cakes, but whether they use lard-based pastry or puff, omit allspice or include nutmeg, they are all sugar-coated, crisp pastries containing dried fruit and a heady old English spice mix. To be really good, they should have a crunchy pastry coating and a moist, dense, highly spiced filling. This version is sure to bring a smile to the lips in the depths of winter.
for the pastry
for the filling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Rollout the pastry on a lightly floured surface to make a large sheet about 1/8 (3mm) thick. Cut out 9 disks about 5in/12cm in diameter. Allow to stand while you make the filling.
Melt the butter and sugar together in a small pan, then stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Place a large tablespoon of filling in the center of each of the pastry disks, Brush the edges of the disk with a little egg white. Working round the disk, take a section of the pastry between your thumb and forefinger and fold it into the center. Take the next section and fold it into the center, overlapping the previous fold, Press down to seal it. Continue until you have gathered up all the edges and have formed a parcel. Flip the parcel over and, pressing down gently with the palm of your hand, shape it to form a perky-looking, plump oval. Slash the pastry twice on the top, brush with egg white, and sprinkle with demerara sugar:
Place the cakes onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. There is lots of sugar in the filling, so watch out that it doesn't boil out of the pastry.
This page created July 2009
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