Friday, December 27, 2013

Eccles Cakes

These delicate cookies are very fussy - but a worthwhile project sure to produce outstanding results! No one will believe you made them yourself, and no one
Eccles Cakes … time-consuming, but worth every mouthful!
will expect that you started with a package of puff pastry. Unless you
’re a boffo baker or harbor a fantasy about being chained to a stove for what’s left of the holidays, buy frozen puff pastry and be done with it. I made these the day before Christmas, and they were a big hit. One of my daughters asked for the recipe, so this is for you, dear Erin! Named after the English town of Eccles, these little cakes - actually a cookie - were first mass-produced for sale in 1793.

Eccles Cakes:

To Prepare the Filling:

1-½ tbsp. butter
2 tsp. light brown sugar
¾ c. currants
3 tbsp. mixed candied peel
¼ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
⅛ tsp. allspice
Milk, as required
Crystalline white sugar, as required

Melt butter over medium-low heat in small saucepan. Stir in remaining ingredients except cream and sugar. Cool thoroughly and set aside. 

To Prepare the Pastry:

One 14-oz. (397 g) pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Cut block of pastry horizontally in half. Roll very thinly on a well floured work surface using a well floured rolling pin. Cut into rounds with 3-½ in. cookie cutter. Working with several rounds at a time, assembly-line style, place 1 tsp. filling mixture into center of each round. 

Lightly dampen edges of each pastry round with wet finger, gathering edges together as a small bundle. Re-roll scraps and repeat. Flatten each cookie with palms to form a smaller round. Place on floured work surface seam-side down. Gently flatten tops to form thinner rounds with rolling pin

Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a sharp paring knife to slice three small slits into top crust of each cookie. Dab with milk, sprinkling generously with crystalline sugar. Bake 13-to-15 min. Do not over-bake! Cool on wire rack. Makes about 32 Eccles Cakes.

Note: These freeze well before or after baking. They are exceptionally good, and would make a delicious bite-sized treat for New Year’s Eve - especially with a glass of crisp champagne.

Roll pastry very thinly and cut into rounds.

Save and re-roll the scraps.

Add dried peel to center. Dab edges with water.

Pinch up dampened edges to gather into a small ball.

Roll out the fruited pastry rounds.

A closer view of two rolled cookies or cakes.

Make three small slices with a sharp knife.

Dab with milk.

Add a generous sprinkling of sugar. Bake.

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