NZ Woman's Weekly

Making Eccles cakes

When I started working at the Weekly years ago, our offices were on Dominion Road in Auckland’s Mount Eden. Within days of beginning my new job I had sussed out the best little bakery on the street, and so began my addiction to Eccles cakes.

These delicious fruity morsels consist of puff pastry encasing currants and spices that give a quick burst of flavour after the initial crunch of pastry. Every morning after my first meeting of the day I would trot five minutes down the road to the bakery and buy an Eccles cake for morning tea.

It was probably a blessing that we moved offices a few months later, putting some distance between me and the bakery – and me and my impending obesity crisis! I hadn’t sampled an Eccles cake quite like it since, until I made these in my own kitchen. I combined two very old recipes, taking what I thought were the best ingredients from each one – and you will not be disappointed.

One recipe called for “moist sugar”, which is a very old term for brown sugar. These are best served cold but you could also have them with hot custard as a dessert. The cakes are named after the English town of Eccles with the first one being sold from a shop in the town centre in 1793.

I’m told they’ve been nicknamed “squashed fly cake” and “fly’s graveyard,” but I refuse to believe that anyone could denigrate such a lovely cake with such terrible names.

Eccles cakes

  • 500g currants
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 4 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry ( I used Edmonds butter puff frozen pastry)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Mix the currants, brown sugar, almonds, mixed peel and nutmeg together in a bowl.

2. Take a sheet of pastry from the freezer, allow to thaw very briefly and roll it out just a little to “wake it up”; ready-rolled pastry used as it is can be a bit disappointing when cooked. Use a saucer to cut out rounds.

3. Place 2 teaspoons of the currant mixture in the centre of each round. Drop on a tiny bit of butter and add a sprinkle of water. Dampen the edges of the pastry round and bring them together in the centre to form a ball or dumpling shape. Press the edges together, then turn the Eccles cake over and gently roll with a rolling pin.

4. Put each cake on a greased oven tray smooth side up and brush with beaten egg. Mark three slits on the top of each cake and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Do you have a Nana recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at: or write to Nana’s Pantry, NZWW, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

Issue 1541

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