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History of Eccles Cakes

 

Jump to : -   What are Eccles Cakes?  |  Who invented Eccles Cakes  |    Recipe

 

 

Go to:   Main History Index Page  |  History of World Cuisines   |   Origins of Ingredients

 

 

Eccles Cakes hail from Lancashire, England and get their name from the town in which they were first sold.

 

Today they are popular worldwide with the Manchester-based Lancashire Eccles Cake company making 600,000 cakes a week of which thousands are exported to the USA, Germany and Spain.

 

What are Eccles Cakes

 

Contrary to what the name implies, they aren't cakes but  are more a  flat pastry filled with dried fruit.  Many families have their own special recipe which has been guarded and handed down through the generations, with some containing fresh fruit such as apples in addition to the currants or raisins, alcohol such as brandy and spices such as nutmeg.

 

 

Origins of  Eccles Cakes

 

The predecessors of  Eccles Cakes often included the use of mincemeat (see separate history of mincemeat), yeast, rum or brandy. Perhaps one of the first recipes for something similar was published in  Mrs Elizabeth Raffaid's 1769 book The Experienced English Housekeeper,  although they were referred to as "sweet patties" in that publication. 

 

It is thought that this was the recipe on which  a shopkeeper called James Birch based modern day Eccles Cakes, was he sold in 1796 in his cake shop in Eccles.  The delicious pastries became very popular  and were even being exported to America and other parts of the world, including the West Indies,  as early as 1818.
 

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for Eccles Cakes,  as they were actually banned when the Puritans took power in England in 1850, for being too rich and extravagant to be served, particular at the church at Eccles which held a yearly service known as The Eccles Wakes, after which a fair would be held serving food and drink, including Eccles Cakes.  When the monarchy was restored, so were the cakes.

More recently, Eccles cakes were back in the news with proposals being put to the European Commission to stop bakers calling items "Eccles Cakes" unless they have actually been made in Eccles, much like the French with Champagne. We believe the verdict is still out.

 

Eccles Cake Recipe

 

 

Traditional Eccles Cakes Recipe 

Veg  CD    CBF  English    30mins

 

 

Makes 12      Cold  Vegetarian  Dried Fruit  Pastries baked fayre  teatime  England British Europe

 

 

Ingredients

25g/1oz Butter or Margarine

25g/1oz Soft Brown Sugar

50g/2oz Currants

375g/13oz Puff Pastry

1 Egg White, lightly beaten

25g/1oz Caster Sugar

 

Instructions

 

1. Preheat the oven to 230C, 450F, Gas Mark 8, and lightly grease 2-3 baking trays.

 

2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar then add the currants and mix well.

 

3. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to approximately 6mm/1/4 inch then cut into 12 circles using a biscuit cutter.

 

4. Place a  teaspoon spoon of the filling in the centre of each pastry circle, dampen the edges with water then pull the edges together and pinch to seal.

 

5. Turn the eccles cakes over (sealed sides down) and roll flat until the fruit can just be seen through the pastry.

 

6. Brush with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with the caster sugar.  Make 3 small diagonal cuts in the surface of each with a sharp knife, transfer to baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire tray to cool.

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