One of Britain's most famous and beloved pastries, these traditional and authentic Eccles cakes are delightfully flaky and packed with a mixture of sweet currants, candied citrus peel and spices. Get ready to experience one of the most delicious pastries you've ever tasted!
To make the pastry dough: Place the flour, salt and cubed butter in a food processor (alternatively this can be done by hand) and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Gradually add the ice cold water and pulse just until the dough comes together (only add as much water as needed). Do not overdo this as maintaining the flecks of butter is critical to achieving a flaky pastry.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Fold each end of the dough into the middle with one end overlapping the other. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat all the steps. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat the steps again, wrap the dough and chill for at least one hour before using. The pastry dough can be made a few days in advance or frozen.
To make the filling: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add all remaining ingredients except for the egg white and demerara sugar. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum. Let the filling sit for at least 3-4 hours before using or overnight. The filling can be made a few days in advance. If refrigerated, let the filling sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes before filling the Eccles cakes.
To assemble the Eccles cakes: Flour a work surface and roll the pastry out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thickness. Per your preference, either cut out rounds or squares. Typical size is about 3.5 inches in diameter. *SEE BLOG POST PICTURES for instructions on making the square version of the cutouts (they're more customizable and don't waste any dough). Place the dough cutouts on a lined baking sheet. Place as much filling on the cutouts as you can while leaving an adequate edge all around them to properly seal the pastries.Lightly brush the edges with water.Gather up the edges towards the center, pressing them gently together to seal. Turn the cakes over with the sealed edges on the bottom.With the sealed edges on the bottom and the smooth surface on the top, gently press the cakes to slightly flatten them. Don't press so hard that the currants break through the dough. Use a sharp knife to cut three parallel slits in the dough.Brush with egg white and sprinkle with demerara sugar (can substitute cane sugar)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the Eccles cakes for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until just warm.Eccles cakes are best eaten a little warm. You can reheat them in the microwave.Traditionally enjoyed with a cup of tea and accompanied by an aged, crumbly cheese (e.g., Lancashire, English cheddar) for a sweet-savory combination.
NOTE: To save time both the pastry dough and the filling can be made days in advance and kept chilled. I like to double or triple this pastry dough and freeze it so I always have it on hand. Just thaw (but keep chilled) and use as directed.