As an Englishman, I’ve always been a fan of eccles cakes. One of Britain’s most famous and beloved pastries, this recipe has been made for centuries! Eccles cakes are round and golden with a firm, yet flaky pastry and a spiced, dried fruit filling. So grab your ingredients, head into the kitchen, and try your hand at making these classic treats!
Here are a few kitchen essentials we recommend for this recipe:
Follow along with Chef Kieron’s video tutorial:
- 1 1/3 sticks (150g) butter, grated
- 1 1/2 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.25g) salt
- 4 teaspoons (15g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 stick (100g) butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cup (195g) brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (50g) dark raisins
- 1/3 cup (50g) golden raisins
- 1/3 cup (50g) currants
- 1/3 cup (50g) mixed fruit peels
- 1 (10g) orange zest (or any other citrus will do!)
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) all spice (can substitute for cinnamon and ginger)
- 1/2 (2g) nutmeg, grated
Making the dough
- To make the pastry dough, your butter needs to be frozen. Wrap 1 1/3 sticks (150g) butter in foil and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.
- Once butter is frozen, sift flour, granulated sugar and salt into a large bowl.
- Take butter out of the freezer. Remove the foil, or simply fold it back and hold it in the foil, which will protect the butter from the warmth of your hands.
- Using the coarse side of a cheese grater, grate the butter into the flour bowl. (Tip: you can dip the edge of the butter into the flour a few times to make it easier to grate.) You should end up with a large pile of grated butter sitting in the middle of the flour.
- Use a palette knife to distribute the gratings into the flour - try to coat all the pieces of butter with flour. (Do not use your hands as you may melt the butter.)
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of cold water into the bowl and continue mixing with the palette knife, adding another 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Start to bring the whole thing together with the palette knife, and finish off using your hands.
- If you need a bit more moisture, dab on a bit of water with your fingers – just remember that the dough should come together in such a way that it leaves the bowl fairly clean, with no bits of loose butter or flour anywhere.
- Place your dough in a plastic bag and chill for 30 minutes.
Rolling the dough
- Remove dough from fridge and pat it into a round shape.
- Place the rested dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 13 balls weighing 36g each or roughly the size of a golf ball.
- Using a straight rolling pin, lightly dust the pin with flour and rest it on the centre of the dough.
- Place the flat of your hands lightly on each end of the pin and begin to roll the dough backwards and forwards (don’t be tempted to roll from side to side), gently and evenly, re-dusting the pin and the surface very lightly with flour if you need to stop the pastry sticking.
- Give the pastry quarter-turns as it expands and, provided you continue to roll backwards and forwards and not side-to-side, it will roll out into a round shape that will keep its shape and will not shrink as it bakes.
- Repeat for each ball of dough.
Making the filling
- Melt 1/2 cup (50g) butter in the microwave or a small saucepan.
- Once melted, remove from heat and mix with dark raisins, golden raisins, currants, mixed peels, orange zest, all spice, grated nutmeg, and 1 cup (120g) brown sugar. If you don't have these exact dried fruits, that's okay! You can substitute them for things like dried apricots or cherries.
- Leave to cool.
Assembling and baking
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Melt ½ stick (50g) butter in a bowl.
- Mix in ⅓ cup (75g) brown sugar and set aside. You will brush each pastry with this once assembled.
- Add a heaping teaspoonful of the filling (approx. 26g) to the centre of each circle of dough.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly dampen the outer edge of each circle of dough with water, then turn the corners inwards and seal them together.
- Flip it upside down so the sealed part is underneath and dust the surface with a little flour. Gently shape it into a round with your hands.
- Using a sharp knife, make three 1 inch slashes across the top of each cake.
- Brush the top of each cake with your melted butter and sugar mixture.
- Evenly distribute cakes on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Transfer to wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.
If you’d like to save some of your pastry dough for later, this dough freezes extremely well! Just be sure to defrost thoroughly and let it come back to room temperature before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.