We asked @izyhossack to help recreate classic British recipes from the 1920s. Find out how she got on with Eccles Cakes.
If you haven’t lived in the UK, you might not know what an Eccles cake is. They are a very traditional bake, made up of a filling of currants & spices encased in flaky pastry. The name comes from the town of Eccles which is near Manchester. They’re very moreish and go extremely well with a cup of tea, of course. You can eat them warm from the oven or at room temperature.
Stoves, began as a manufacturer of gas heaters when founded in 1920 on valentine’s day! They moved on to make gas cookers and eventually range cookers which they are still a leading manufacturer of in the UK today. To celebrate Stoves’ landmark 100th year, I was tasked with making a recipe from a 1920s cookbook. Although there were many classic pastries in the book, the Eccles cakes were something I had always wanted to make so I settled on that recipe.
The ingredients are quite basic, a lovely buttery flaky pastry is made, rolled out and cut into disks. A filling of currants, mixed peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and sugar is stirred together and spooned onto each circle. The edges of the circle are gathered at the top and pinched together to seal the filling within a layer of pastry.
These are little pastries, similar in size to a cookie, as they are quite rich from all the butter & dried fruit! This batch makes quite a few Eccles cakes, and although they’ll keep well for ~5 days in a sealed container, you can also freeze them if needed.
Although it is traditional to use lard in flaky pastry (in place of all or some of the butter), I go for all-butter. So yes, these Eccles cakes are vegetarian, but some that you might buy from traditional bakeries will contain lard.
For the pastry:
For the filling:
Recipe from The Downstairs Cookbook: Recipes From A 1920s Household Cook by Margaret Powell. Re-created by recipe developer, food photographer and stylist, Izy Hossack (https://www.instagram.com/izyhossack/).
Prep time: 30 Minutes
Cook time: 20 Minutes
For The Pastry:
226g (2 cups minus 2 tbsp) white bread flour
1/2 tsp fine table salt
170g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
70ml (1/4 cup + 2 tsp) very cold water
For The Filling:
120g currants (or raisins)
40g chopped mixed peel
40g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
40g unsalted butter, melted
You Also Need:
1 egg, beaten
Demerara sugar (raw sugar), for sprinkling