Eccles Cakes

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Food is all those substances which, submitted to the action of the stomach, can be assimilated or changed into life by digestion, and can thus repair the losses which the human body suffers through the act of living.

-The Phsysiology of Taste, Brillat-Savarin

So yeah, let’s have that potluck.

It turns out I’m quite the procrastinator, even when it comes to things I’m really excited about. Probably more so about things I’m totally nervous about. Shocking, I know.

My plan for months – especially since that potluck in Tofino – was to have one here and invite all of you. As my mom used to say – immediately, if not sooner. (Generally this phrase was used in reference to our getting some chore done that should have been done eons ago.)

I didn’t want to interrupt anyone’s long weekend, plus I had this silent auction dinner. Next Saturday night, it turns out, I’ve committed to judging a salsa contest. I’m not sure I could duck out of the potluck for a couple hours without anyone noticing. Also: Mike might kill me.

The weekend after – which according to my calendar is the first week of JUNE – I’ll be in Texas. Yes. I’m going on a business trip, for a conference. How grown-up am I?

The weekend after that we’re all going to be in California. (Guess what? We’re taking the boys to Disneyland. Still doesn’t seem quite real, but the tickets are booked!) The weekend after that I’m cooking for Will Shatner. (Yes, that Will Shatner.) And then it’s the last weekend of June. The end of school, beginning of summer. EEK. And I don’t want to wait that long.

Also, the apple tree in our backyard is beginning to bloom. I love it when it’s in bloom – the branches loaded with pink flowers distracts from the thawing dog poo. And so it looks like next Saturday must be the day, but perhaps maybe in the afternoon, so I can go judge salsas at 8? I know it won’t work for all of you, but I’m hoping some of you will come, even though it’ll be too light out for patio lights.

Wait, before I get into logistics, I want to tell you about these eccles cakes.

They’re not really cakes per se – they’re crisp, sugary squares or rounds puff pastry filled with currants and brown sugar – better, I think, than any Danish. I made them recently because I needed comfort food, I really did, and they remind me of my mom. I’m not sure why these stand out above other things she’d bring home from the grocery store when I was a kid – they weren’t even all that, arriving in hard plastic clamshells from the bakery with the texture of refrigerated store-bought puff pastry that coated the inside of your mouth. Maybe it’s just because she loved them too. I’ve since decided that if I’m going to eat things like pastries, they’re going to be the very best I can find – and these are near mind-blowing when made at home and eaten warm from the baking sheet.

I’m not suggesting you set about making puff pastry from scratch, although I don’t discourage it – but these particular eccles cakes were made with half a package of store-bought puff pastry, and took about five minutes to put together. And look at them! Like crispy-chewy butter tart sandwiches, these are. I’ll make some next weekend, just to prove it to you.

The great thing about puff pastry is its foolproofness – no matter what you do to it, it will bake up golden and crispy and if it’s imperfectly cut, rustic-looking. Some eccles cakes are round, and others are square, some are made with candied citron and cinnamon along with the currants – feel free to add either or both, but I’m a bit of an eccles cake purist, myself.

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Eccles Cakes

1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
pinch cinnamon (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a large rectangle or square big enough that the pastry is about 1/4-inch thick.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix together the currants, brown sugar and butter and spread over one half of the pastry. Or mix the butter and sugar, spread it over the pastry and sprinkle with currants. It doesn’t much matter.

Fold the pastry over to cover the filling and roll gently with the rolling pin almost until the currants poke through the surface. Cut into squares or rectangles (any size you like) with a sharp knife and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg, cut a few slits in the top of each with a sharp knife (be careful not to go all the way through) and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. Try to share.

So – the potluck. If you seriously want to come, I’ll get into details after the jump…

I have no idea how to do this, so I’m just going to put it out there. Let’s have a potluck, at my house, next Saturday afternoon. Say 3 pm? I’d love you to come. I live in Ramsay, beside Inglewood. Why don’t we do it this way – I’m a little iffy about posting all the info about where I live and inviting a free-for-all, so if you’d like to come, leave a comment here and I’ll email you – or email me at onesmartcook@hotmail.com and I’ll give you the details! How does that sound?

OK, now I’m excited! What to wear? What to make?

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May 23 2011 11:23 pm | cookies & squares and dessert

44 Responses to “Eccles Cakes”

  1. stacey snacks on 24 May 2011 at 6:29 am #

    My mom used to buy these, but I never knew they were called “Eccles” cookies, we just called them chewy raisin bars.
    I am making these today! Thanks for the memory! I loved them!
    PS my husband is jealous that you know Captain Kirk!

  2. Lorraine on 24 May 2011 at 6:30 am #

    Looks like another home run Julie! My DH loves these types of pastry, guess I will have to make it for him. Can you switch out the currants for raisins and still have it work out ok?

  3. Gillian @OneGiantStep on 24 May 2011 at 7:00 am #

    My mom would make these with the left over pie dough after making meat and/or apple pies. I love them; especially the sugar on top!

  4. ladyloo on 24 May 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Dang! I was really hoping in your recounting of your schedule that you were going to say that the potluck was going to have to be the last weekend in June, cuz that’s when I’ll be in town. *le sigh*

    The puff pastry cakes look lovely, and remind me of home. There’s a distinct lack of currents in the deep South.

  5. Lana on 24 May 2011 at 8:16 am #

    I SO want to come to this potluck but it’s just a LITTLE too far. :)
    Have fun, though!

  6. Cheryl on 24 May 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Fun! We should be able to make it.

  7. Fiona on 24 May 2011 at 8:59 am #

    I love Eccles cakes. I’m gong to make some, but cheat and use up the half-jar of mince lingering in my fridge.

    Keep us posted about the potluck!

  8. Christina on 24 May 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Oh the Potluck would be so fun but I can’t make it Saturday!! DARN!!! I’ve got to work Saturday until 5, I’ve got my brothers and sister in laws 3 kids from Thursday until Sunday (and of course my 3) and to top it all off Greg is playing at Morgan’s this weekend!! Wish I could come!! :( If for some reason the date changes I’ll for sure be there!!!
    The Eccles cakes look amazing!!! yummmm!

  9. Ashley on 24 May 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Its like magic that you just kind of smoosh everything together and it comes out so pretty! I will second the question about raisins or some other dried fruit being used because I live in Florida where currants are scarce (though not unfindable). I SO wish I could come to your potluck, but it’d be quite a long plane ride for an afternoon!

  10. Avery on 24 May 2011 at 11:33 am #

    So is that the 28th or the 4th? Either way, we’ll try to make it! I call quinoa salad! Lol

  11. Sarah in Calgary on 24 May 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Fabulous idea on the potluck. I’m batching it with Kevin leaving on Friday for Rondeau so count me in (the 28th or the 4th). I have your address, so let me know if there is a theme. You and Mike just might end up with a posse at the salsa event :) Since quinoa salad has been taken, I’ll have to get serious and think…

  12. Tina on 24 May 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I’ve got branding and a garden centre date to juggle but if possible I’d love to come! Need the address though!

  13. the other Al on 24 May 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I’m in for the Pot Luck baby. Oh ya, those Eccles, omgooooooooooooooooood!
    My husband talks about the Eccles of his youth and how he would love to have some. Right up there with Hot Cross buns and Panetone! Your so right about the store bought ones coating your mouth with some thick lardy smear. Home made sooo much better. Father’s Day is coming up so guess whats for breakfast…

  14. Erica B. on 24 May 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Oooh I was also hoping you had moved the date! I just can’t do the 28th… we’re having T’s birthday party that night and he might just kill me if I try and arrive late to a party at our house. I look forward to reading all about it!

  15. Chris M on 24 May 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Every time that I visit friends in England, I head to the store to pick up Eccles Cakes, Hobnobs and Jaffa Cakes. I’ll have to try this recipe. Thanks for posting!

  16. Judy on 24 May 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    This is my next “Julie” thing to make …….I love Eccles cakes and Laggan’s Bakery in Lake Louise makes a decent one but is not always consistent in quality.

    Now here’s a challenge I adore sultana cookies, I’m afraid this may have been a bit before your time Julie. They are a flat thin cookie filled with moist chewy raisins (not the dry crumbly ones that are imported) and would love to find a recipe to make my own!

    If you ever come across one please let us know. love your site Julie and am amazed at your energy and initiative.

  17. Erin on 24 May 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I’d love more info on the potluck! How fun! I’m bummed that quinoa salad is taken already though:( haha

  18. Lauren O. on 24 May 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Eccles cakes look fabulous! I will definitely have to try them asap. I would love the details for the potluck. Sounds great! :)

  19. ajdoula on 24 May 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    What a wonderful idea, Julie! I’m in! I’m leaning towards butter tarts, but will make whatever you need.

  20. Natalie (ga) on 24 May 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Wish I could come! Take pictures!!

  21. margo on 24 May 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    The only Eccles cakes I ever tried (and loved!) were from Goats on the Roof in Coombs, on Vancouver Island. They were lovely, although not quite so wonderful as the Bee Stings. : )

  22. erin on 24 May 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Hi Julie,

    I would love to come to the potluck, but I am in Edmonton and can’t make the trip down this weekend. I hope I get to meet you sometime though!

  23. Vincci on 24 May 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    I creepily already know where you live. This weekend was supposed to be B. and mine “weekend sans commitments”, but I already have plans to go for drinks that night. Maybe I’ll be there.

  24. kickpleat on 24 May 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Eccles cakes are my favorite!! Every time I spot them in a bakery I pick them up. I once made a biscuit that tasted almost like an eccles cake but no dice. Honestly, I had no idea they were so easy – I guess I should venture into the world of puff pastry!

  25. H-woman on 24 May 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    Count me in for the potluck!

  26. rose on 25 May 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Hi Julie

    Love eccles cakes and I think I’ll give these a try, they seem so simple!

    I want to come to the potluck and am going to look into flights tomorrow from Vancouver. I’m nervous and excited and my family thinks I’m crazy but I’d love to come to the party! It’d be a chance to check out Calgary too, which I’ve never done before. Is Ramsay in Calgary?

    Rose

    Rose

  27. Colleen on 25 May 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Julie,

    I would love to come. Can I bring my husband, three year old son and one month old daughter? I promise to take them home if they misbehave.

    Colleen

  28. Christine on 25 May 2011 at 8:11 am #

    I would love to come on saturday…just nervous at what food might be suitably wonderful for Ms Julie VR and company. I could bring some chicken skewers and chipotle dipping sauce…should I grill them in advance? I am in Elbow Park so we are pretty much neighbors!

  29. Meta4 on 25 May 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Julie,
    Do you relize that 1000 people could come to your Pot Luck Party?
    Everybody loves you, and this invitation will spread:)

  30. JulieVR on 25 May 2011 at 10:57 am #

    You guys, I’m so excited/nervous about this!! and yes, please do bring your kids/husbands! I should probably tell Mike about this at some point…

  31. CathyH on 25 May 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I would love to come to the potluck and will bring my friend, Kim. I am planning on bringing a Wild Rice Salad. Can’t wait to meet you!

  32. Donna on 25 May 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Two more for the potluck.
    Can we all bring our own plates/ cutlery/ etc. and take them home to wash or ? (or we could bring disposable stuff and garbage bags)
    -I’m still deciding what to make…

  33. Lisa on 25 May 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Julie, you are so wonderful to invite all your “virtual” friends to a potluck!

    I hesitated a bit – but them I remembered that everyone loves bread, and while I”m no Manuel Latruwe, I do bake a pretty good loaf which is always better when shared…

    So yes, I’m in!

    Lisa

  34. Carol SB on 25 May 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    Guys, infinite varieties of quinoa salad are not a problem. So go right ahead; I’ll help ya eat ‘em.
    Julie, I’m in for the potluck: bringing something sweet. I mean, besides myself ;)
    -CSB

  35. Colleen on 25 May 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I’m in. Don’t know what I will bring but I won’t come empty handed. Oh the pressure!!

  36. Heather on 25 May 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I love the idea of a community potluck! I have been following your great blog and amazing recipes for awhile now. My friend and I would love to come. Please send me details.

  37. Barbara on 25 May 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    I would like to come too.

  38. CathyH on 25 May 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Please tell us the extras we can bring….drinks, plates. napkins and untensils. This should NOT be stressful for you!!! Let us know!

  39. JulieVR on 25 May 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Wow, you guys!
    First things first – yes, raisins can be subbed for the currants. I’d use dark ones, and chop them.
    Judy – I ADORE sultana cookies! Haven’t seen them in ages! I was going to reference them, but didn’t think many would know what I was talking about!
    CathyH- don’t sweat plates and utensils – I’ll figure it out!

  40. suchalab on 26 May 2011 at 9:15 am #

    I, like others, was hoping the potluck was not going to be on the 28. Happy for everyone else who can make it tho I, sadly, won’t be there as have plans with our church.
    @ Judy- I love sultanas and have looked for them but to no avail. I grew up in Montreal and they were certainly a favourite treat. Does anyone know if they make them anymore?
    The Eccles cakes look wonderful-always wondered what they looked like-I am a Coronation Street fan and they are often ordered at “Roy’s Rolls”.

    Have a blast Julie- wish I could be there with the masses(and I think there will be masses:) of food, people and FUN!

    Dare I even say this, perhaps if this one is a success there might be another one in the future :)

  41. Roslyne on 26 May 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Julie, you’re crazy, amazing! Will have to try these Eccles cakes and I promise to scan through my old cookbooks for sultanas.
    Wish I could join you for the potluck because I know it’ll be awesome, however, it’s busy season in Penticton. So, please, everybody take photos to share so those of us at a distance can feast vicariously!

  42. JulieVR on 26 May 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Roslyne – crazy, yes!! Don’t knock yourself out looking for sultana recipes.. they were packaged cookies. There may be recipes out there, but I’m not sure they’d be the same!

  43. Katie on 01 Jun 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Eccle cakes are my favorite and I had never thoguht to make them myself! Will be making these for sure (although, it may not be a very good idea…I don’t have a whole lot of willpower!)

  44. Pam on 02 Jun 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I came across your website yesterday and was looking through the recipes and decided that I would make the Eccle cakes! I cannot believe how easy these are to make and they turned out wonderful!

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