If you’ve ever been to a gastropub in Greater Manchester, there’s a good chance that you’ll have had an Eccles Cake. Named after the Salford town, these cakes were first sold in 1793 at James Birch’s shop in Eccles. They were wildly popular, and still are today!
I veganised a flaky pastry recipe with, if I’m honest, far much more success than I expect. I only used oil because I had no butter substitute, but these came out perfectly! The ones you buy or get as a dessert in good ol’ Manc may not contain alcohol, but I think the small amount of rum in these binds together the rest of the flavours and gives a nice little kick to them.
They’re relatively easy to make and are a proper slice of the North of England (which is the best bit of England).
(Makes 8 Eccles Cakes)
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup canola oil + 2 tbsp reserve
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tbsp rum
1 cup currants
1/2 cup candied peel / glace cherries
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup turbinado sugar + a little extra reserve
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius
Place the 2 tablespoons oil, the rum, currants, peel / cherries, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar in a pan and heat on low
When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat
Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl
Pour the 1/2 cup oil in slowly and “cut” it into the flour, until you have small chunks of mixture
Add in the water and mix, then bind together with your hand
Cut into 8 bits, then take one piece and roll it out between 2 sheets of Saran Wrap until it’s 1/2 cm think and 10cm in diameter
Place a tablespoon of the currants mix in the centre of the pastry, then wet the edges of the pastry and bring them together over the currants and pinch together
Turn the cake over and flatten it gently, being careful to not break the pastry, then cut 2 small slits in the top
Repeat with the rest of the pastry and currants mix then place all the Eccles Cakes onto a greased pan
Brush with water and sprinkle with the reserve
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are browning
Serve 2 per person, with custard on top for the true Manchester experience!