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These are quite irresistible, especially when served warm. Currants usually predominate but these have sultanas and grated apple, as they make the filling moister. Always sprinkle the tops of the Eccles cakes with demerara sugar for extra crunch.
Roll the pastry out to 5mm/¼ inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Loosely roll the pastry around the rolling pin and unroll it on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Place in the fridge to rest and relax for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the sultanas, currants and mixed peel in a bowl with the lemon and orange juice and zest. Add the soft brown sugar and spices and mix well. Melt the butter in a small pan and add to the fruit mix. Beat the eggs together just enough to combine the yolks with the whites. Weigh out 75g of the beaten egg and add to the mix (reserve the remaining egg for egg wash later). Add the grated apples and mix well. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Remove the pastry from the fridge and, using a 12.5cm/5 inch pastry cutter, cut out 12 discs. Put a large tablespoonful of the filling into the centre of each one, then bring the edges of the pastry into the centre, tucking them under eachother to make sure the parcel is very firm and no filling is showing. The Eccles cakes should be round and firm. Place smooth-side up on a lined baking tray, 2.5cm/1 inch apart. Brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg, then pick them up and dip them one at a time into the demerara sugar. Only the tops should be coated in the sugar. Make 2 slits about 1cm/1/2 inch long and 5mm/¼ inch apart on the top of each cake for the steam to escape. Place in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown. To check they are done, turn one of them over and make sure the pastry is cooked underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack. They are really good when they are warm but do not serve straight from the oven, as the filling will be extremely hot.
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