Sometimes known as ‘squashed fly’ cakes, these classic English pastries are equally delicious served with a cuppa or accompanied by a hard English-style cheddar or tasty Lancashire cheese. The pastry used in this recipe is a super-simple, delicious homemade flaky pastry but feel free to substitute purchased puff pastry if you are short on time.
- 1 egg white, lightly whisked
- 2 tbsp sugar, to sprinkle
Simple flaky pastry
- 185 g (1¼ cups) plain flour
- good pinch of salt
- 125 g butter, frozen
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) chilled water, approximately
- 40 g unsalted butter, melted
- 60 g (⅓ cup, lightly packed) dark brown sugar
- 115 g (¾ cup) currants
- 40 g (¼ cup) chopped mixed peel
- finely grated zest 1 lemon
- finely grated zest 1 orange
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground allspice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 20 minutes
To make the simple flaky pastry, put the flour and salt into a medium mixing bowl. Hold the frozen butter with a piece of foil or baking paper to prevent it from melting and coarsely grate it onto a chilled plate. Add to the flour and use a round-ended knife or palette knife and cut through the flour and butter to mix until evenly combined.
Sprinkle the chilled water over the flour and butter mixture. Use the knife, again in a cutting motion, to mix until evenly combined and the mixture starts holding together. Press a little of the mixture between your fingers: if it holds together easily, there is no need to add more water. If it doesn’t, add an extra teaspoon of chilled water at a time and mix and test again until it is ready.
Bring the pastry together with your hands and transfer to a lightly floured, cool bench top. Lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips for about 30 seconds or until smooth and soft (the butter pieces will be visible in the pastry). Divide the pastry into 2 portions, shape each into a disc, wrap well in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
Preheat oven to 210ºC (190ºC fan-forced). Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.
To make the filling, put the butter, currants, mixed peel, lemon and orange zest, and spices in a medium bowl and mix well to combine evenly.
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out one pastry disc on a lightly floured surface until about 3 mm thick. Use a 10 cm round pastry cutter to cut out 7 rounds, rerolling any scraps if necessary. Place a tablespoonful of the filling mixture in the centre of each. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the egg white and fold in the edges and pinch together to enclose the Filling. Turn the Eccles cakes over so that the seam is underneath. Use your hands to press each Eccles cake into an oval about 1 cm-thick. Place on the lined oven tray, brush with the egg white and sprinkle with half the sugar. Use a small sharp knife to cut three small slashes across the top of each cake. Place in the fridge while making 7 more Eccles cakes with the remaining pastry, filling, egg white and sugar in the same way.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is puffed, crisp and golden. Serve warm or cool on the tray and serve at room temperature.
• These Eccles cakes will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerrie Ray. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
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