The Eccles cake is named after the town of Eccles, which is in the historic county of Lancashire and now classified as a town in the City of Salford, Greater Manchester. They are part of a Lancashire food tradition, with similar cakes being found in other parts of the County of Lancashire. Eccles cakes were traditionally eaten with Lancashire cheese.
It is not known who invented the recipe, but James Birch is credited with being the first person to sell Eccles cakes commercially.
Eccles cakes do not have Protected Geographical Status, so they can be manufactured anywhere and still labelled as “Eccles” cakes.
More of a round, flat pastry than a traditional cake, with a currant filling sandwiched between flaky, buttery layers, the Eccles cake is a British institution. (It is no surprise that it goes extremely well with a cup of tea).
As kids we used to call them “flies’ graveyards!”
1 oz unsalted butter
4 oz. (2/3 cup) currants
1 oz. (¼ cup) candied mixed peel*
½ level teaspoon nutmeg or mixed spice if you can find it
2 oz. soft dark brown sugar
frozen puff pastry, thawed
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Melt butter in a small pan; remove from heat. Add currants, mixed peel, the nutmeg or mixed spice and brown sugar; mix well.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a saucer (5 inch) as a guide, cut out eight circles. Divide the fruit mixture between the circles. Brush edges with water and draw them to the center over the filling, seal well.
- Turn the cakes over and roll gently into circles with rolling pin. Should be about 3-1/2 inches round.
- Spread some granulated sugar on a small plate. Brush tops of Eccles cakes with water; invert onto the sugar and press down lightly. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make three (1 inch) diagonal cuts on top of each.
- Bake on shelf just above center of oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool on wire rack.
*Candied Mixed Peel is made from orange and lemon peel.