Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tea Time with Eccles Cakes

The Complete Book of Pastry by Bernard Clayton, JR. is a battered, dog-eared, stained cookbook that I took with me from home when I left. My dad gave it to my mother back in 1985, so the inscription dates, but it was more my sisters and I who delved into it and began baking our own sweet and savory delicacies at a very young age. I have an attachment to this cookbook, not just because of all the great recipes it holds, but because of all those memories between its pages.
Recipes such as Quiche Lorraine, Croissants, Apple Strudel and Classic Puff Paste are penciled-over, ripped, and well-used. My dad certainly benefited from this purchase, but then he generally did for every cookbook he brought home!

As a young girl, a particular favorite recipe of mine was Eccles Cakes. This particular interpretation of a classic British tea-time treat is more of a Canadian version of the original tea cakes of Eccles, England.
Imagine a layer of black currants and sugar pressed between two sheets of puff pastry and baked to a crisp, caramelized delicious morsel.
What’s not to love?

With only three ingredients (once you have bought or made that time-consuming puff pastry) it is fast to make and you can easily whip up a batch for afternoon tea. So put the kettle on.

Bernard Clayton credits British Columbian chef, Bert J. Phillips for the recipe.

Eccles Cakes

1 ½ lbs puff pastry, chilled
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup currants

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Plump currants in hot water 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Roll chilled dough in a floured surface in to a rectangle 3/16 inch thick. Put aside for a moment while removing all dusting flour. Sprinkle the work surface generously with sugar and continue rolling dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
Trim the piece in to a precise rectangle. Cover half the dough solidly with currants in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Fold the remaining half of the dough over the top of the currants.
Gently press a rolling pin over the entire surface until the black currants show through the sheet of thin dough. The result is a nice speckled appearance.

With a knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough into 2-inch squares and place 12 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Place in the refrigerator to relax the dough for 25 minutes while the oven heats.

Reheat oven to 375F.
Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven. When the bottoms have caramelized and who light brown, carefully turn the cakes over and finish baking. ( I forgot to do this step, so my tops are less caramelized.)
Place cakes on rack to cool. Enjoy!

19 comments:

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I could eat one of those right now and very English. Might just have to do a little link in the following week.

Thanks for your note about Pads, very much appreciated.

Miranda said...

oh yes...I remember these fondly. yum

Valli said...

Only 3 ingredients to this recipe. That is amazing! I have never made my own puff pastry, but, that doesn't mean I never will.

Kevin said...

Those look perfectly golden brown and yummy. And the recipe looks so simple.

Anh said...

Simple yet so tasty. We really need more recipes like this! :) Oh, and I really like your tea set!

The Cooking Ninja said...

mm... these are sure delicious for tea :) Just the other day I made myself some coconut squares for my tea time too. I was surprised how yummy they turned out.

Sandy said...

I wouldn't have guessed only 3 ingredients either! They look so pretty and perfect for tea!

lynn said...

Looks beautiful and delicious and sounds easy. My kind of cooking! I'll go brew up some Earl Grey.

Abby said...

I love how it's pretty and dotted - even before baking! I don't think I've ever had currants, but I've seen so many currant recipes on blogs. I'll have to seek them out this fall!

winedeb said...

Looks very simple and I love using puff pastry. Your photo with the lovely china is wonderful!

Shayne said...

What a great recipe so simple (if you buy the pastry) and it is not something one woudl see every day.

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

This is a beautiful post. I love the photographs. And I love eccles cakes. We learnt to do make them at school.

Belinda said...

Aimee, your Canadian Eccles Cakes look just beautiful...and I agree, isn't it hard to believe that something so pretty and fancy looking has only three ingredients?! Your photos are stunning, as always, and I love the beautiful teacup you chose for these shots...perfect with the frou frou cakes. :-)

Motty said...

When I was in England several years ago my friend literally scoured the country to get these. She had them everyday. Now I can tell her how easy they are to make. BTW- Do you have a good recipe for Apple Butter?

Aimée said...

Hi Amanda- I'm glad you approve, being English and all!

Hi Mira- Did you ever make these?

Hi Valli- Nothing tastes the same as homemade, you'll have to try it sometime!

Hi Kevin- it's a bit of a girly treat, but that's ok, right?!

Hi Anh- Thanks! The tea set was my mother's wedding present.

Hi ninja- mmm, coconut. Sounds delicious!

Hi Sandy- These are fun to make with kids. Noah loves to work the rolling pin.

Hi Lynn- Thanks! Any excuse for tea is a good one, right?

Hi Abby- Currants are really quite yummy, but I don't use them for much other than eccles cakes! I'll have to seek out some of these recipes you are talking about!

Hi Winedeb- Thank you for the compliment.Yes, everyone loves puff pastry-it's a real crowd pleaser.

Hi Shayne- Thank you. You know, you are right, I've never had homemade eccles cakes anywhere before.

Hi big veg- Thanks for dropping by UtHC!

Hi Belinda- You are sweet. Give them a try yourself and have a taste of Canada!

Hi Motty- I would LOVE to try the English version...someday.
I just made apple butte and will be posting the results very soon. Funny you should ask. Stay tuned!

mlindley said...

I think I may have to add them to my Thanksgiving meal plan, they look amazing!

Mandy S. said...

Aimee this is quite a flashback... I grew up eating these, but not homemade ones - only dried up storebought ones, I'm afraid. And not surprisingly so, there is no resemblance! haha. I would LOVE to try your version as they look amazing and light. Thanks for the childhood memory flashback of me and my dad munching on eccles cakes, storebought though they were.

haidi said...

Good memories. You even made a batch of those for my wedding, if I remember anything about that day clearly.

misslionheart said...

They look lovely!

Eccles is right beside my hometown in Lancashire, England. We would have had the traditional round cake, warm with butter on top.

The square version reminds me of Garibaldi.

http://britishdelights.com/prod_e184.htm



Mmmm. A lovely trip down Memory Lane....

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