British Bites: Eccles Cakes

The town of Eccles is located in Greater Manchester in the Northwest of England and is credited with being the origin of this classic filled pastry. A circular pastry filled with currants cooked in brandy and citrus, this dessert is often served accompanied by more brandy and a wedge of hard cheese (a clothbound chedder would be perfect).

Sometimes called a Fly Pie or Fly Cake, this pastry is not a common one in North America, but with a few ingredients and about half an hour you can have a classic British pastry to be proud of. Traditionally, Eccles Cakes are made with currants, which can be difficult to find as well as costly. This recipe substitutes golden raisins, which are a bit sweeter than currants but plump and take on the flavor of the brandy and spices very nicely.

When cutting the puff pastry use cutters of two different sizes so that the top piece of pastry is just a bit bigger than the bottom. This will help the pastry to puff evenly around the filling, and will help the filling not spill out of the pastry as well. This recipe will yield 10 cakes about 2 1⁄2 inches across, so if you have circle cutters in your kitchen, using a 2 inch and a 2 1⁄2 inch cutter will yield ideal results.

These cakes are fantastic when baked and then served so that the pastry stays crisp. But if you have a few leftover and are looking to revive them a few minutes, in a hot oven will perk them up.