Country Walks and Eccles Cakes
This weekend is yet another bank holiday here in England - hooray. I am sure that whatever the weather, many people will be digging out their BBQ’s and enjoying the outdoors...well that’s my plan at least!
I am going for a walk in the South Downs National Park this weekend, I am looking forward to seeing the springtime waking up all the plants, wildflowers and trees. There are a lot of hills and with this in mind I have planned this week’s blog to tie in with a long walk snack - Eccles cakes. These small puff pastry fruity treats are the ideal size, they also have lots of flavour with the dried fruit and spiced filling plus they give a sugary hit…perfect.
They are a classic afternoon tea treat and have stood the test of time as you will find them in many bakeries across the country.
The dried fruit inside is gently spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and elevated with fresh citrus zest. You can use a combination of any of your favourite dried fruits, I opted for dried figs, sultanas, raisins and currants. Cranberries, apricots or dates would also be lovely but currants are a traditional addition. I have also added stem ginger for warmth and if you have been following along with my blogs, you will know I use it often as I love its sweet and fiery warmth so much.
150g dried fruit (I used a mixture of figs - roughly chopped, sultanas, raisins and currants)
2 balls of stem ginger and 2 tablespoons of the syrup
100g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
500g puff pastry
1 large, free ranged egg - beaten
1 tbsp icing sugar
Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Into a large bowl, grate the zest of the lemon and orange then add the spices and sugar and mix together. Now add the dried fruit, roughly chopping any larger fruits to make them all an even size. Finely chop the stem ginger and add to the bowl along with the 2 tablespoons of stem ginger syrup. Mix together again.
Core the apple, but leave the skin on. Chop the apple into 1cm pieces and add to the bowl too, and give it a quick stir to mix it in. Leave to one side whilst you prepare the pastry.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the puff pastry to 3mm thickness. Using a 10cm circular cutter, cut out about 9 discs. Dollop a heaped tablespoon of the fruit filling into the centre of the disc and gather the edges up to the centre and press them together to seal the filling inside, place seam side down onto the baking tray. Using a knife, stab three small slits into the tops - which will allow the steam to come out whilst they bake. Repeat with the remaining discs, spacing them out on the baking tray as you go.
Brush the tops of each one with the beaten egg, then sift over the icing sugar and top with a sprinkling of demerara sugar. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes of until golden. Some of the juices from the filling may leak out, but don’t worry as it will become sticky and jammy which only adds to the yumminess!
Leave them to cool completely before enjoying.
I will be packaging mine up to take on my walk and I will be looking forward to them after a long ascent up a very big hill! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too.