Sunday, 16 September 2012

Home made is always better!

As previously mentioned Mr Vander-Cave has been away for a couple of days at a trade show where he gets a 'lunch box' provided each day, the inverted commas are there because the boxes are huge and covered in advertising for the show. Inside the boxes are all sorts of cakes and treats that generally don't set foot inside my back of beyond barn as I prefer to make all our cakes because they taste nicer. Having said that I do have one exception, M&S Eccles cakes. Oh my how I love these butter laden cakes with the gooey filling oozing out from the flaky sugar coated pastry (salivating already!). Any way back to the trade show lunch boxes. Mr V-C often brings back leftover singular packaged cakes for Master Vander-Cave as a treat. This time he came in brandishing an Eccles cake saying "I know how much you like these!" The next morning I sat down with my mid morning latte and the aforementioned cake. Disappointed doesn't even begin to cover my feelings. This puff pastry catastrophe tasted like cardboard and the fruity centre was extremely lacking in fruit. In fact I think this cake could have been contravening the trades description act it was so far removed from my usual Eccles cake. Since the onset of my CFS the M&S Eccles cake has become a rare treat because I so rarely get to shop there and I was so desperate that I found a recipe and set about making my own.

At this point I must say this is one of those recipes for those days when you have nothing else to do. All the rolling, folding and chilling of the flaky pastry is very time consuming and took up a lot of my day. I didn't quite stick to the recipe because I only had a quarter of the currants needed so topped up the fruit with raisins and I also didn't have any dark brown sugar so used light brown sugar. I don't think either substitution has lessened the scrumptiousness of the finished cakes (If I do say so myself!)

The layers needed to create a flaky pastry by rolling and folding
Eccles Cakes
400g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
25g caster sugar
225g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 medium egg, separated
100ml cold water
75ml cold milk
For the filling:
500g currants
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (or the best-quality lemon extract)
50g dark soft brown sugar
100g unsalted butter
Demerara sugar

Put the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and add the butter. 

Whisk the egg yolk with the water and milk, and mix with the flour to a firm dough.

Wrap, chill for 30-60 minutes, then, with a little flour, roll into a 2cm-thick rectangle. Fold in by thirds, then re-roll to the same size and fold again. Wrap and chill for 30-60 minutes. Repeat the double roll, fold and chill twice more.(As it was warm on the day I made mine I chilled the pastry for 60mins each time).

Put the currants in a bowl, pour on 500ml boiling water and leave for five minutes. Drain thoroughly, then mix with the lemon, sugar, butter and chill for 15minutes.

Roll the pastry to 2cm thick, cut in two and keep one piece chilled while you roll the other into a 0.25cm-thick rectangle and cut into six squares.

Place a 50-60g ball of currants in the centre of each one, dampen the edges and bring together to seal. 
Flip it over, round the shape with your fingers, roll out slightly to flatten and place seam down on a baking tray lined with nonstick paper. Repeat with the other pastry and filling.

Brush with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sugar, slash the tops and bake at 200C (180C fan-assisted)/390F/gas mark 6 for about 30 minutes until golden .

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