I have said it before but I still find it very interesting how a lot of my memories from childhood, holidays and other important events revolve around food. I can still remember eating nothing but plums for breakfast in Spain on one holiday, or how I was shocked to receive a fish with its head and eyes still intact when I was just 6 in France. Its not just these one off events though. My memories of my older Sister, Nicola, from when I was little have very strong connections to two things, Blackpool and Eccles cakes. When I was still young Nicola took a job in Blackpool and we would regularly go to visit, but on the occasions she came back home she always brought Eccles cakes back with her. It became a bit of a tradition which unfortunately didn’t continue past childhood but has always stuck with me. So when I was feeling a bit nostalgic I decided to make a batch and they brought back quite a lot of memories, so whilst the tradition may not have continued past childhood maybe I cant start my own and take a batch next time I visit my Sister.
Eccles Cakes – Makes about 24
Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes
Quick Flaky Pastry
225g Plain Flour
A Good Pinch of Salt
For the Filling
150g Soft Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Zest of 1 Orange
50g Finely Chopped Candied Peel
1. To make the pastry take the weighed block of margarine, wrap in foil and put in the freezer for half an hour. Meanwhile sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. After an hour take out the margarine and holding with the foil dip in the flour and grate on a coarse grater. Continue to dip the margarine block into the flour to make it easier to grate. You will know have a lump of grated margarine in the flour.
2. Using a palette knife start cutting the margarine into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Add enough water so that it forms a dough that leaves the bowl clean, you can use you hands at this point. Place into a polythene bag and refrigerate for half an hour.
3. Prepare the filling first by melting the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add all the filling ingredients into a bowl and pour over the butter and mix thoroughly and leave to cool.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll to about 3mm thickness, then using a plain 8cm cutter, cut the pastry into rounds. Put a teaspoon of the filling onto each round. Brush half the pastry round with milk and fold over the other half to seal. Bring the corners up to the centre and pinch to seal well. Turn the sealed eccles cake over, seam side down. Gently roll the parcel to flatten to about 1/2 cm thick, pat into a round shape. Place the shaped rounds onto a greased baking sheet and slash each one 3 times with a sharp knife. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
5. Bake in a preheated 220 C oven for aout 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.