Traditional Eccles Cakes

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Traditional Eccles cakes are hard to beat! These homemade pastries are incredibly flaky & have a rich, fruity filling. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea or a wedge of cheese.

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Sticky, fruit filled pastries that are insanely good! Here, super flaky, rough puff pastry is filled with a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices, butter & zest. For an authentic Eccles cake, we’re making it all from scratch! These are just as good as shop bough & are surprisingly easy to make.

What Are Eccles Cakes?

Eccles cakes originate from Lancashire, which is in the north west of England. The exact date that these pastries started being made is unknown but nowadays they are available in supermarkets all over the country.

eccles cake filling
Seriously flaky pastry!

Rough Puff Pastry

For this recipe, the pastry of choice is a seriously flaky, homemade rough puff. This is similar to puff pastry in taste & texture but takes a fraction of the time to make. It’s also super easy! There’s less lamination involved & once made can be used for a variety of different dishes. From tarte tatin to sausage rolls & most importantly, these Eccles cakes.

The most critical part of pastry making is controlling the temperature. Make sure that the water is ice cold & half the butter is well chilled & the other frozen.

For a full, in depth guide to making rough puff pastry, head over to my seriously flaky rough puff pastry recipe on the blog.

Ingredients Used

Rough Puff Pastry

Similar to puff pastry in both taste & texture, rough puff pastry is incredibly flaky once baked. This pastry is surprisingly easy to make & the rich, buttery flavour works fantastically with the lightly spiced, fruit filling. If you’d prefer to use a ready made pastry, a block of puff pastry would work just as well.

Dried Fruit

You can’t make a batch of Eccles cakes without dried fruit!

Traditionally, raisins & currants were used in the filling, so we’re going to be doing the same. For extra flavour & to make the currants & raisins softer & plumper, we soak them in a generous amount of brandy or rum before using. If you’d prefer to make an alcohol free version, use extra fruit juice instead.

Lemon & Orange

We’re using the juice from an orange & the zest from both in this recipe. This cuts through the spices nicely whilst giving our filling an extra hit of fruit flavour.

The Spices

We’re going to be spicing up our filling with a small amount of cinnamon, ginger, allspice & nutmeg. This adds a warmth & depth of flavour to our Eccles cakes.

Sugar

For a deep, roasted, caramelised flavour, we’re using light muscovado sugar in our filling. If you don’t have light muscovado, light brown sugar will work as well.

Before baking our pastries, a sprinkling of demerara sugar is added to the top of each one. Once baked this gives our Eccles cakes a sweet, crispy exterior.

Butter

A small amount of melted butter brings the filling to the right consistency. It also adds a richness. As with most baking, it’s best to use unsalted butter so that we can control the salt content of our recipe.

eccles cakes ready for baking

How To Make Traditional Eccles Cakes

The full, printable recipe card for these Eccles cakes can be found at the bottom of this post!

Make The Pastry

First, we need to make the rough puff pastry. To do this, we mix plain flour & salt with chunks of butter. Enough ice cold water is added in, to form a dough then we transfer the pastry to the fridge for an hour.

Next, we grate frozen butter which is then laminated into the dough using a process involving rolling out & folding. To maintain the correct temperature, the pastry is chilled for 30 minutes between folds*.

Once laminated, the pastry needs to chill for at least 2 hours before using & can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Mix Filling

Making the filling is super easy! Simply mix the fruit with the alcohol, spices & zest then leave to soak for an hour. Then stir in sugar & melted butter, leave to cool slightly and it’s ready to use.

Assembling The Eccles Cakes

Using half of the pastry at a time (to stop it warming up too much), we need to roll it out to a thickness of 3mm. We then cut the pastry into 13cm circles using a large cutter or by cutting round a small plate with a sharp knife.

Next, we add a spoonful of filling, dampen the pastry’s edges with a splash of water then fold into the middle & pinch, to seal. Flip the pastry over & flatten down slightly using your hand. Transfer to a lined baking tray & repeat with the remaining pastry & filling. You should get 12 cakes in total.

Baking

Before we bake the pastries, we first need to brush egg white over each one. A sharp knife is used to cut a couple of small slits into the top of each cake then we sprinkle over the demerara sugar.

These are then baked until golden brown then left to cool completely. Serve with a cup of tea or a strong cheddar & enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use shop bought pastry?

A block of ready made puff pastry would be the best alternative. Make sure to roll it 3mm thick before using.

Can other dried fruits be used for the filling?

Absolutely! Sultanas would work well or for something a bit different, you could use cranberries or sour cherries.

How long will Eccles cakes keep for after being baked?

Kept in an airtight container, these Eccles cakes will last for 2-3 days.

Equipment Used

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Traditional Eccles Cakes

Traditional Eccles cakes are hard to beat! These homemade pastries are incredibly flaky & have a rich, fruity filling. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea or a wedge of cheese.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time20 minutes
Chilling Time3 hours
Total Time4 hours 20 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: English
Servings: 12 People
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Box Grater
  • Rolling Pin
  • 13cm Circular Cutter Or A Small Plate
  • Large Baking Tray
  • Wire Cooling Rack

Ingredients

Rough Puff Pastry

  • 250 g Plain Flour
  • 250 g Unsalted Butter Half Frozen, Half Refrigerated
  • 125 g Ice Cold Water
  • 1/2 tsp Table Salt

Filling

  • 175 g Currants
  • 125 g Raisins
  • 120 g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 60 g Unsalted Butter Melted
  • 1 Lemon Zested
  • 1 Orange Zested
  • 2 tbsp Orange Juice
  • 1 tbsp Brandy/Rum
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch Of Table Salt

To Finish

  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 tsp Cold Water
  • 2 tbsp Demerara Sugar

Instructions

Rough Puff Pastry

  • Cut the block of butter into two equal pieces. Refrigerated one half & freeze the other*.
    *The butter needs to completely frozen. This will take a least a couple of hours. I like to do this step the night before.
  • Next, place the plain flour & salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Cut the refrigerated piece of butter in half lengthways then slice thinly. Add to the mixing bowl & stir so that each individual slice of butter is coated in flour.
    Add in enough water to form a rough dough (start with 100g then add in more if required), being careful not too overwork the dough.
    Transfer to a clean worksurface & knead until all of the flour has been incorporated. Flatten slightly then wrap tightly in cling film & leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Whilst the dough is chilling, using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into a container then put back in the freezer until needed.
  • Next, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough into a large rectangle, measuring around 35cm x 20cm & 0.5cm thick.
  • Dust off any excess flour then sprinkle half of the frozen butter onto the bottom 2 thirds of the dough.
    Fold the third with no butter on over the middle third then fold the remaining third over the top. Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise then roll out into a rectangle (again measuring 35cm x 20cm x 0.5cm).
    Sprinkle the remaining frozen, grated butter over the bottom 2 thirds of dough & repeat the above folding process.
  • Lightly press a finger into one of the dough's corners, to signify how the dough was positioned on the work surface before going in the fridge*.
    Wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm then leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    *Make sure to keep a note of which corner you left the indent in.
  • After half an hour, unwrap the dough (save the clingfilm for when the dough goes back in the fridge) & place on the work surface with the indent at the same position as before.
  • Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise & repeat the rolling & folding process twice more (this time without adding butter). Remember to turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise before rolling out.
    Wrap the dough in clingfilm & refrigerate for a further 30 minutes. (Make sure to leave an indent in the same corner as before.)
  • Repeat the rolling, folding & turning process twice more for the final two turns. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight before using.

The Filling

  • In a bowl, combine the currants, raisins, zests, spices, vanilla, salt, orange juice & brandy/rum. Give it a stir & leave to soak for at least an hour.
  • Next, add in the sugar & melted butter then mix well. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before using.

Assembly & Cooking

  • Preheat an oven to 200°c/180°c fan (390°f/355°f).
  • Take the pastry out of the fridge & cut into two pieces. Leave one of the pieces in the fridge & roll the other one out into a rectangle that it is 3mm thick.
  • Cut the pastry into circular pieces using a 13cm cutter (or use a small bowl & a knife).
    Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the centre of each pastry circle. Dampen the edges with a little water then fold the edges into the middle, over the fruit, pinching to seal.
  • Turn each Eccles cake over and flatten slightly with your hand then place onto a lined baking tray.
  • Take the other piece of pastry out of the fridge & repeat the above process. There will be enough filling for 12 cakes – roll out the pastry trimmings if necessary.
  • Next, combine the egg white & water then brush over each Eccles cake.
    Use a sharp knife to cut a couple of small slits into the top of each cake then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
    Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a deep golden brown.
  • Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

To cook in an Aga, bake in baking oven on the bottom set of runners.
Kept in an airtight container, the Eccles cakes will last for 2-3 days.
It is important that the pastry has been chilled for long enough before rolling. A couple of hours is fine but overnight is best.
The key to flaky pastry is keeping everything cold.
The water should be ice cold & the grated butter kept frozen.
The night before you make the pastry, cut the block of butter in half widthways. Put one half in the freezer & the other in the fridge.
The pastry will need between 100g – 125g of water to come together. I recommend starting with 100g then adding in the extra 25g if required.
The filling contains alcohol, either brandy or rum. If you would prefer to make these without alcohol, substitute with extra orange juice.
Give the dried fruit enough time to soak up the alcohol & orange juice – at least an hour.

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