British Invasion, Part Two

Well, hi there! It’s Week 18 here at Library Life Hack and we are back in the kitchen with another mystery British recipe.

This mystery goes by the name of “Eccles Cakes”. I was actually introduced to them by another Canadian, and based on their very high ratio of fat and sugar, they quickly became one of my favourite treats. In my hometown of Edmonton, I’ve only been able to find them in one place and that’s Safeway. They’re not cheap ($5.29 for six), which makes them a perfect test subject for life hacking.

yum yum yum!

yum yum yum!

Dan Lepard, Baking Genius
If you read my last post, you’ll know that I had quite a search on my hands when it came to finding a recipe for Genoa Cake. Eccles cakes were a little easier. A lovely-sounding recipe turned up in the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, authored by Dan Lepard, who seems to be a baking genius.

You can use a library database called Press Display to find this recipe in the Jan 6, 2012 edition of The Guardian, or you can pick it up off the online edition, which you’ll find here.

OK, I Cheated a Little
When I made these, I cheated with the pastry and bought TenderFlake ready-made puff pastry, but I mostly followed everything else in the recipe. And when they came out of the oven, they were fabulous! A bazillion times fresher-tasting than Safeway and packed full of currants. (In comparison, the Safeway ones are a little lardy, too.)

Some Handy Hints
If you make these yourself, here’s a few hints:

  • This recipe makes a lot of filling. Buy two 397 gram packages of the TenderFlake pastry, and you should end up with about 18 eccles cakes.
  • The recipe calls for 500 grams of currants, but a pack of Safeway currants is only 449 grams. Just top it up with raisins, if you’ve got them. If not, don’t worry.
  • Double the sugar in the currant mixture, just so that there’s something to hold all those currants together in the filling.
  • Instead of brandy, add Glayva to the currant mixture. (I didn’t have any brandy in the house.) Yum-tastic!
  • When you’re assembling, use only about 50 grams of the currant mixture (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • I couldn’t really figure out the folding and shaping in Dan Lepard’s recipe. Here’s my workaround, inspired by the suggestion of Mark, husband to my colleague Sarah:
    Mark's clever idea for folding eccles cakes

    The Lazy Girl’s Method for assembling eccles cakes

The Numbers
There isn’t a huge price difference here: homemade eccles cakes work out to about .77 each and Safeway ones are about .88 each. But, like the homemade goat cheese experiment, there’s a major difference in the quality of the finished product. In the end, you’ll save about $1.98 on a batch of homemade eccles cakes. (That qualifies as a tiny cha-ching!)

Let’s Talk About Press Display
I’ll take a quick minute to go back to Press Display, the database tool that I used. It really is the coolest thing. It gives you access to more than 40 Canadian newspapers and hundreds of international papers in dozens of languages. It’s just like reading the newspaper itself, except that it’s online. Here’s a clip of another story about eccles cakes.

Apparently, you shouldn't put these in the microwave

Apparently, you shouldn’t put them in the microwave

It’s free, and if you live in Alberta, all you need to access the full version is a library card. It’s all online and beautifully set up for viewing on a tablet or an iPad.

And that’s it! Thanks for tuning in, and have a great week!

P.S. I am very proud to announce that I am finished one sleeve of the world’s longest knitting project. Just one more to go! (She said, ever-so optimistically.)


4 thoughts on “British Invasion, Part Two

  1. Classic, indeed — I just found out that my British expat great-grandmother used to make them all the time. And Dan Lepard’s recipes do look quite fabulous, so I’m pleased to hear that they’re pretty foolproof. Thanks for the comment!


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