Yes, I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of an Anglophile. And, with the holidays just around the corner, I don’t simply dream of a white Christmas, but a Dickensian one. I imagine a holiday with Victorian carolers strolling snow-covered cobbled streets, a cozy Cotswold cottage lit with candles and scented with crackling roast goose and steamy figgy pudding, pulling Christmas crackers with family and friends around the table, and nibbling treats like these very British Eccles cakes.
The Eccles cake may have been created about 20 years before Dickens was even born, yet these are just the type of sweetmeat I imagine gracing Mr. Fezziwig’s overladen Christmas Eve party table.
An Eccles cake is a small, heavily spiced pastry filled with currants and candied orange peel wrapped in a flaky (rough puff) pastry. The origins can be traced to the town of Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary, but now a suburb of Manchester. Weights are in grams, nodding to their British origin.
- 120 grams currants
- 50 grams candied orange peel, chopped
- 50 grams butter, softened
- 40 grams light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- Zest of ¼ lemon
- Juice of ½ orange
- 1 Tablespoon brandy Pastry
- 250 grams All-purpose flour
- 5 grams salt
- 250 grams very cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 125 milliliters ice-water
- 1 egg white, beaten
- Turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
- Stir together all filling ingredients in a small bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute until butter is melted. Cover and set aside for the flavors to meld and currants to soften. Refrigerate. Once cold, the filling should bind together without extra liquid. Drain if necessary.
- Pulse flour, salt and butter in a food processor until butter pieces are pea-sized. Gradually pulse in about 100-125ml cold water until mixture comes together into a dough. Do not overwork.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle three times as long as it is wide. Fold the top third down into the middle, then the bottom third up over the top, then rotate the pastry 90 degrees so the fold is now vertical. Roll out again and repeat then wrap in cling-wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding, rotating, rolling and folding one more time. Chill for an hour.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface a little thicker than 1/8th of an inch, then cut out rounds about 3 ½ inches wide. Put a half-tablespoon of filling in the center of each, then dampen the edges of the circle and bring the edges into the middle, pinching together to seal well. Put on a parchment-lined baking tray smooth side up, and squash slightly until flattened. Repeat with the rest and chill for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove pastries from refrigerator, brush with egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cut three slashes in the top of each and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden and well-risen. Allow to cool before eating – the filling will be hot.
Loved your yummy recipe 🙂
I’m British and I love eccles cakes although I’ve never made my own. I am now thinking I should have a go though!
Yum! These sound very tasty and festive!
These look so good! I’ve never had anything like them before, will have to try it!
Wow, so many yummy flavors going on there! I’ve never tried these before (or recall seeing them). They look perfect with a strong cup of tea!
Every year we go see A Chrismas Carol with a group of friends. These sound like the perfect snack during intermission.
Oh, I just love your vision of our Christmas, I’d be right there next to you singing carols! My father in law and I were just talking about the lack of tradition in celebrations today, especially in towns. Great job on such a classic recipe!
Love Eccles cake but I’ve never made a homemade version. You make it look easy to make..a delicious Autumn recipe
I can’t wait to try these! They look fantastic and I love the history on them. Pinned it!
you just described my ideal Christmas and this pastry sounds divine. I must make it so it will snow and some carolers will appear on my doorstep!
This recipe looks scrumptious!
I am going to have to try these! Thank you for sharing. I’m restoring my ca. 1884 farmhouse, and it’s given me more of an appreciation for Victorian recipes. I have an 1860s book of handwritten recipes I’m slowly working through on my blog. I am going to add this recipe of yours to my own personal Victorian collection! 😊
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