Eccles cakes


  • Serves 10 people

  • 200 gm currants, soaked in hot water until plump, drained
  • 60 gm butter, melted
  • 50 gm brown sugar
  • Finely grated rind of 1 orange and juice of ½
  • 20 ml brandy
  • Pinch each of mixed spice and freshly grated nutmeg
  • For scattering: demerara sugar
  • Flaky pastry
  • 400 gm (2 2/3 cups) plain flour
  • 25 gm caster sugar
  • 175 gm chilled butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 50 gm chilled lard, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 75 ml milk
  • 1 egg, separated
01   For flaky pastry, sieve flour onto a work surface, then mix in sugar and 1 tsp fine sea salt. Scatter over butter and lard and cut into flour with a pastry cutter until roughly mixed (there should still be small lumps of butter and lard in the mixture). Whisk milk, egg yolk and 100ml iced water in a small bowl, form a well in centre of flour mixture, add milk mixture and mix lightly to incorporate. Bring together with the heel of your palm, pat into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (40-50 minutes). Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1.5cm-thick rectangle, about 15cm x 35cm. Fold short ends in to meet in the centre, then fold dough in half to form a book-fold. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just firm (20-30 minutes). Repeat rolling, folding and resting twice more. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
02   Combine currants, butter, brown sugar, orange rind, orange juice, brandy and spices in a bowl and set aside.
03   Preheat oven to 190C. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick, then cut 20 rounds with a 10cm-diameter cutter, re-rolling scraps. Divide filling among half the rounds, brush edges with water, cover with remaining rounds and pinch edges to seal. Gently roll with a rolling pin to spread filling evenly, brush with lightly beaten eggwhite and scatter with demerara sugar. Transfer to oven trays lined with baking paper and score tops twice with a small sharp knife. Bake until golden and cooked through (25-30 minutes), then serve warm or at room temperature.
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