Food: Boozy eccles cakes

At last a new post! What with an extra busy few weeks at work, half term and poorly children it's been hard to find time for blogging. But finally I have. And I hope you'll think these boozy eccles cakes are worth the wait. 

My husband has declared these the best eccles cakes he's ever eaten. And believe me when I say he doesn't pass out compliments about food lightly. When we first started going out I cooked him a meal that included some slightly (very) over salted potato rosti and he still talks about them and how disgusting they were. Anything I cook that he doesn't like gets a "hmmm I'm not sure that's a make again." So his approval is high  praise indeed.

They're slightly different to a traditional eccles cake because they have a boozy, gooey, sticky sauce around the dried fruit. I was trying to recreate the ones I used to get at school at break time, warm from the oven, in my early teenage years before it became uncool to eat anything that wasn't salad in case your skinny fourteen year old self might get fat. They were oozy and gooey, though hopefully not boozy, and like mine had crisp flaky pastry and crunchy demerara sugar on top.

They're pretty quick to make too - needing just 10 minutes in the oven. To make your own you will need:

150g (5oz) currants
50g (2oz) mixed peel
100g (3 1/2oz) soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp brandy
1 orange - juice
50g (2oz) butter
50g (2oz) demerara sugar, plus extra for scattering
1 x pack of ready made puff pastry (not the ready rolled stuff)
Milk for glazing

Makes 8-10 eccles cakes

Method

If you have time mix together the currants, mixed peel, soft brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with the orange juice and brandy and leave to soak and infuse for a few hours. This step isn't vital but it does make a bit of a difference.

When you're ready to make your eccles cakes preheat the oven to 220c/425f/gas 7. Lightly grease a baking tray. Melt the butter and stir into the fruit mixture with the demerara sugar.

Roll out your pastry to about 3mm/1/8" thick and cut out 10cm/4" circles with a pastry cutter. Put 2 teaspoons of the fruit mix into the centre of each circle and brush some milk around the edge.

Now I tried various methods of folding these up, and I found it easiest to fold one side over and press the edges together as if you were making a turnover or Cornish pasty. Then take the ends and tuck them underneath, pressing the little cake down and into a round. It's a bit of a fiddle, but once you get the hang of it, it's ok. Make sure you pinch the folds of pastry together on the bottom well to stop too much sauce seeping out as they cook.

Brush with milk, then using a sharp knife, gently make three cuts in the top of each cake and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake on a baking tray for 10 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Don't worry if some of the sauce escapes, it always does and it gives the cakes a wonderful sticky caramelised bottom. Remove from the tray straight away and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Word has it that they're pretty good with a chunk of stilton.