Eccles cakes improve any afternoon tea spread and with the addition of brandy, these spiked ones are certainly a hit with grown ups! The fruit filling is similar to that of a Christmas cake or Christmas pudding but without the festive spices. Of course, it it ‘tis the season, then please do add some mixed spice or nutmeg to give them a wintery warmth, however just as is with a hunk of cheese is my absolute favourite way of enjoying them.
Makes 12 mini’s or 6 large
For the pastry:
250g block of butter (frozen)
350g plain flour
pinch of salt
For the cakes:
In addition to the above pastry or 1 pack shop bought puff pastry
50g mixed peel
juice and zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
100g soft brown sugar
1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
50g brown sugar, plus 2tbsp extra for scattering
1. The night before wrap the butter in foil and stick in the freezer. Pop your sultanas and mixed peel in a large bowl and let soak in the brandy and orange juice overnight too.
2. The next day, grab a large bowl and sift the flour and salt in. Keeping the butter in the foil to keep it cold, grate it into the flour. Dip the end in the flour occasionally to make it easier. Take a knife and start to mix the butter and flour together. Sprinkle a tbsp. of water over and still using the knife, add a couple more to bring the pastry together. Finally use your hands to squish it into one mass. Cling wrap and stick in fridge to harden.
3. While waiting for pastry to harden, melt the butter for the cakes and stir it into the sultanas and peel. Add the sugar and spices. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
4. Preheat the oven to 200c. Roll out the pastry and cut out circles. Dollop a spoonful of the fruit mix in the centre and pinch up the sides. Place on a baking tray, pinch side down and slit the tops.
5. Bake for 15-20mins or until golden brown and then scatter with sugar. Delicious warm with a cuppa or cold with a hunk of Wensleydale.