A while ago I wrote a brief manifesto centred on making the world a better place through the introduction of mandatory elevenses.
Should I ever be appointed ‘Food Tsar’ in order to help see the successful passage of this essential legislation, the Eccles Cake would almost certainly be the official flagship treat.
The finest example of this Lancastrian delicacy can be found not in their hometown of Eccles but at Restaurant St. John close to the City of London. Tightly packed with spiced currants and served warm, with a cup of tea on the side, I can think of no better way to ward off winter ills than taking 15 minutes out of your day to have your cake and eat it.
These are loosely based on the St. John recipe and should make six decent sized cakes.
Be sure to slightly overfill each one and pack it in tightly to full appreciate the glory of these delightful wonders.
NB - If you want to make a smaller or larger quantity just use the ratio one part butter to two parts sugar to four parts currants.
Half a block of ready-made puff pastry (oh, how convenient)
60g unsalted butter
120g golden caster sugar
One egg white
Extra caster sugar, for dusting.
Heat the sugar until it starts to melt and colour slightly then remove from the heat and add the butter. Allow to melt then add the currants. Stir well so each is coated with some of the caramel. Flavour with allspice and nutmeg – keep tasting it until it is slightly Christmassy and comfortingly warming – then leave to cool.
Roll out the pastry to about half a centimetre’s thickness then using a 9cm cutter press out as many discs as you can. Re-roll the leftover pastry and repeat until you have 12-14 discs. Top each with a spoonful of the filling and sandwich them together, making sure to press the sides together tightly.
(You can make the circles larger and fold the pastry together underneath. Either way works fine)
Turn them over and neaten them up with your palms. Flatten the top and cut three times with a sharp knife (supposedly to symbolise the holy trinity). Brush with egg white and dip into caster sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are an inviting colour and the filling is oozing out of the top.