27 Feb 2013

Eccles Cakes : little currant wonders

Monomania, definition in the dictionary: 
1. Pathological obsession with one idea or subject.
2. Intense concentration on or exaggerated enthusiasm for a single subject or idea.

I'm this kind of blogger who can spend days thinking about her next recipe, trying to choose between the dozens of recipes that lie on my Top Priority To Bake List
When I'm on stage doing improvisation and I don't know what to do, I often end up playing someone who cooks. 
When I invite friends over for dinner, it takes me all week to devise my menu, make a decision, change everything, go back to my initial ideas...
When I'm with Him, we spend hours discussing what amazing food we'll be cooking this week-end (when two food lovers meet...) 

If you add all of this up...I reckon I spend half of my time thinking about food. Is there something wrong with me Doc?

recipe traditional english biscuit

Traditional Eccles Cakes 

These little currants delights belong to the great traditional British regional biscuits heritage, and are a great way to practive and improve my pastry skills (which so far are quite poor, considering that I often take shortcut and buy ready-made pastry)

Well, I'm afraid Eccles Cakes might have changed this forever. This homemade flaky pastry is so delicious that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to buy supermarket pastry ever again!
This flaky pastry is also perfect for Cornish pasties.

Ingredients for the flaky pastry 
175g plain flour
115g unsalted butter 
approx 2tbsp ice cold water
a pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling 
75g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
150g currants
1 tbsp mixed spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg)
50g mixed citrus peel, finely chopped

Make the pastry:  
1/ Put the butter and water in the freezer for 15 min beforehand.

2/ Wash your hands with very cold water so that they are as cold as possible. In a big bow, sift the flour and salt. Grate the almost frozen butter into the flour. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it ressembles fine crumbs. Try not to work it too much so the butter doesn't melt or become soft

3/ Add gradually the cold water and knead the dough very briefly until it forms a rough ball. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 30 min (this is important to respect this time as it will enable the gluten to developp and prevent the pastry from shrinking when cooking of being greasy)

Watch Master Baker Anthony Kindred's  pastry video masterclass to see how to make flaky pastry. 

Make the filling:  
If possible, prepare the filling the night before (it doesn't compromise the biscuits if you don't): mix all the ingredients in a bowl, squashing the currants in your hands to let the spices, sugar and butter to impregnate them. Cover and let aside so the flavours will develop.

Make the cakes:  
1/ Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of about 3mm. Using a 6cm cookie cutter, cut the pastry into rounds.
2/ Place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each round. Bring the edges of the pastry up into the middle and pinch to seal.
3/ Turn the sealed pastry parcel over, so that the seam is underneath, then gently press down until it is about ½cm thick and you can see the currents through the pastry (without them breaking it). Gently pat back into a round shape if needed and place onto the greased baking tray or a silicone mat.
4/ Slash each cake across three times using the tip of a sharp knife. Brush the cakes with milk and sprinkle with a lot of caster sugar (I dipped them into a bowl of caster sugar to cover them all around)

5/ Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and puffed up. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool. 
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