These small eccles cakes are delicious served warm with a slice of Colston Basset Stilton – a marriage made in heaven! The process may seem a bit long, but don’t be put off, they are well worth the effort. Try with a small glass of rich Pedro Ximenez Sherry – perfect together.
Homemade Eccles cakes
225g/8oz plain flour
pinch of salt
160g/5¾oz chilled unsalted butter, plus 25g/1oz soft unsalted butter
100g/4oz caster sugar
50g/2oz chopped candied peel
freshly grated nutmeg
milk and granulated sugar, to finish
1. First make the pastry for the Eccles cakes. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Dice half the chilled butter and rub into the flour using your hands, then add just enough cold water (4-5 tablespoons) to bring everything together into a soft dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring about 20cm/8in x 10cm/4in. Cut the remaining chilled butter into thin slices. Cover the middle third of the dough with one-third of the slices, then fold the unbuttered thirds of dough over the buttered third, first one and then the other, making a square. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Repeat step 2 twice, turning the block of dough 90 degrees each time, and chilling between each rolling. Repeat two more times, but without any butter, then refrigerate again for at least 30 minutes.
Finish making the Eccles cakes about an hour or so before serving, as they are best served warm. Preheat the oven to 240C/465F/Gas 8 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Cream together the 25g/1oz soft butter and the caster sugar in a bowl, then add the currants, candied peel and nutmeg. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 4mm/¼in thick. Cut out twelve 7cm/2¾in discs. Spoon a little of the filling in the centre of each disc. Brush the edges with a little water, then pull the edges into the centre and pinch them together to seal. Turn the cakes over, place on the prepared tray and push down lightly with the palm of your hand to flatten a little. With a small sharp knife, make three short incisions in the top of each cake. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges have turned golden-brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.