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I’m quite pleased with these Gluten Free Eccles Cakes developing these was also the first time I’ve made gluten free rough puff or flaky pastry. I’d been putting it off for so long and as with many things I was silly not to have tried before. Not only is it pretty simple to make gluten free rough puff pastry, it’s also quite fun too!
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Skip to the good bit
- What is an Eccles Cake?
- Where do Eccles Cakes come from?
- Are Eccles Cakes made with puff pastry?
- How do you make gluten free rough puff?
- Top tip on how to roll rough puff pastry
- How do you make dairy free Eccles Cakes?
- Do you add spices to Eccles Cakes?
- What is the filling in an Eccles Cake?
- Is there a quick hack to making Eccles Cakes?
- Do Homemade Gluten Free Eccles Cakes keep well?
- Step-by-step: how to make an Eccles Cake
- Other gluten free pastry recipes
- Gluten Free Eccles Cakes Recipe
What is an Eccles Cake?
An Eccles Cake is a traditional bake from the north of England, not actually a cake as the name suggests, but more like a pastry filled fruit bun. It’s rich in butter and then packed full with moist plump currants.
Where do Eccles Cakes come from?
I didn’t have to look far to find the history of the Eccles Cake. They’ve been an integral part of history of the town of Eccles in the north of England for centuries.
Although no one can be certain of the date that Eccles Cakes were first manufactured, it is clear their history stretches back over three centuries. Historians are fairly certain that the origins of these pastries can be traced to the town of Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary, but now a suburb of Manchester.Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes – From Eccles with love
I’d love to tell you all about the history, the banning of the Eccles Cake and the meaning of the word ‘Eccles’ but The Real Lancashire Eccles Cake website does this perfectly and so they should. So to find out more, if you’re interested to learn why Cromwell banned the Eccles Cake, head to The Real Lancashire Eccles Cake website.
Are Eccles Cakes made with puff pastry?
The short answer is no, Eccles cakes are not traditionally made with puff pastry. Eccles cakes are made made with a flaky or rough pastry so rather than having clear defined laminations in the pastry you have a fragile flakiness, rich in butter flavours.
How do you make gluten free rough puff?
I wasn’t lying before when I said that making gluten free rough pastry was fun. I didn’t mention it’s a bit fiddly to begin with but once you apply some simple rules there’s no stopping you.
Rule One – freeze your butter
I have decided to always keep a pat of butter in the freezer now, just in case I fancy making my own gluten free rough puff pastry.
Rule Two – grate the butter
To add the butter to the flour simply grate it. I have done this two ways, both work really well, the second is far easier but more washing up.
Method one – Using an oven glove, I hold the butter with its wrapper peeled back and grate the butter into a weighed bowl of gluten free flour. The oven glove is a barrier between your warm hands and the butter, meaning the butter stays frozen.
Method two – I use my rotary grater to grate the butter, this is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets it does make a lot of washing up, but I’m happy with that.
Rule Three – don’t touch the pastry dough
Well, that’s kind of impossible because you do have to bring the dough together into a ball. What I mean is handle as little as possible. Once you’ve combined the gluten free flour, grated butter, xanthan gum and water, simply work the dough into a ball in the bowl using a silicone spatula first then your hands (sparingly).
Top tip on how to roll rough puff pastry
As this gluten free rough puff pastry has been gently brough together into a ball, it will be fragile and if you roll it out on a floured surface it will crumble. Plus you don’t really want to add much more flour if you can help it.
Rolling the rough puff between cling film (plastic wrap) you can see what you’re doing and the dough will hold together as you roll it out.
As you can see in the images, I start by pressing the dough ball out between a folded sheet of clingfilm. I find using a fold sheet, rather than two separate sheets, far easier as the fold can assist with the rolling process and keeping the pastry in place to make a useable final shape.
Using the clingfilm itself, I fold the sides of the pastry over and reroll, repeating this process until the edges are no longer crumbly.
You can clearly see in the images that the dough remains beautifully speckled with butter throughout this process.
How do you make dairy free Eccles Cakes?
To make these gluten free Eccles Cakes dairy free as well, I simply swap the butter for plant based butter. It has to be a solid block of butter mind, do not use margarine or soft dairy free alternatives. i always opt for the Flora Plant Based Block of butter (salted or unsalted),
Do you add spices to Eccles Cakes?
This is an interesting question. In my research I came across multiple muggle … glutenous Eccles Cake recipes. I think all of them insisted on adding a spice of some description. Why? It certainly surprised me to see this as I remember eating many traditional Eccles Cakes in my life and not once did I detect a hint of spice!
This is where I must add ‘do as I say, not as I do‘, because I did buy a packet of the original Lancashire Eccles Cakes and have a nibble to confirm my memory served me well. I am NOT COELIAC, my daughter Bethany is. Perosnally, I am intolerant to dairy, eggs and a few other things so please do not do what I did. I am a victim of my desire to get these recipes as close as I blooming well can so you don’t have to contaminate yourselves.
What is the filling in an Eccles Cake?
Below is a list of ingredients in the Traditional Eccles Cakes made by Lancashire Eccles Cakes Company. As you can see, it backs up my theory/memories regarding spice and Eccles Cakes.
I do not use palm oil whether responsibly sourced, or not, so in this recipe I’ve made a little tweak to get the best authentic texture to the filling.
In my gluten and dairy free recipe for Eccles Cakes I use currants, a bit of sugar, some plant butter and a spoon of cornflour to create the perfect filling. The key is to plump the currants in boiling water and then add melted butter and cornflour to bind.
You can make this mixture in advance. You will need to give the currants time to plump up anyway. Then simply pop the combined ingredients in the fridge until later. This will allow the butter to harden and make your filling mouldable into balls to place in the centre of each rough puff square.
Is there a quick hack to making Eccles Cakes?
As always, I want to make my recipes as simple for you as possible so they don’t add to any drama you have in your life. After all, life is a drama, gluten free doesn’t have to be…
If you feel that rough puff isn’t something you’re ready to try just yet, make these with some ready rolled gluten free puff pastry. I recommend Jus~Rol Puff Pastry Sheets. You’ll need one box for this recipe to make 6 Eccles cakes.
Do Homemade Gluten Free Eccles Cakes keep well?
As with most home baking, gluten free or not, these Eccles Cakes will always taste far better on the day, even better as they still hold that final bit of warmth with a strong cuppa tea. If you can’t eat all 6 Eccles Cakes in one sitting (!) then you can still eat these just fine the next day cold, or even better, zap them in the microwave for 10 seconds to freshen them up.
Step-by-step: how to make an Eccles Cake
Annoyingly these images show the pastry being a wee bit too thick. I’d recommend rolling it out a bit thinner that I have done here but I was on a time limit on this occasion to get these photos done before the light failed me.
Once you’ve followed my steps above on how to roll out your rough puff, cut the pastry into 6 square(ish) shapes and place a decent dollop of Eccles Cake filling in the centre or each square.
Fold all four corners into the middle and repeat with the newly made 4 corners. Absolutely no need to be tidy here, Eccles cakes are all unique in shape with untidy bottoms!
TOP TIP: this is why I add a little extra xanthan gum to this recipe. There is some in the flour blend I use anyway (Doves Freee Gluten Free Plain Flour). Adding a little extra adds elasticity and makes the pastry easier to fold into a parcel.
Turn the Eccles cake over and once you have done this 6 times place the cling film back over your cakes and gently roll them flatter.
Prick once with a fork and glaze with a brown sugar and ‘milk’ glaze. They are now ready to bake. Or you can pop these in the fridge and bake later if you wish.
Other gluten free pastry recipes
Gluten Free Eccles Cakes Recipe
If you make it and like the recipe I would be eternally grateful if you popped back and commented leaving a star rating as this will tell search engines that this recipe is worth checking out and others will get to find it in searches.
Gluten Free Eccles Cakes Recipe
- small bowl
- rotary grater or handheld grater
For the rough puff pastry
- 150 g gluten free plain flour
- 100 g dairy free butter frozen in a block
- 6 tbsp iced water
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- pinch salt
For the fruit filling
- 125 g currants
- 40 ml boiled water
- 20 g dairy free butter, melted
- 1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- ½ tbsp dark brown sugar
- pinch salt
For the glaze
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp dairy free milk I use soya milk
To make the rough puff
- Measure out the flour, salt and xanthan gum in a large mixing bowl and use a whisk to combine.
- Remove the pat of butter from the freezer.
- To add the butter to the flour simply grate it directly into the bowl using either method below;Method one – Using an oven glove, hold the butter with its wrapper peeled back and grate the butter into the bowl. The oven glove is a barrier between your warm hands and the butter, meaning the butter stays frozen.Method two – Use a rotary grater to grate the butter into the bowl.
- Now add the iced water one tablespoon at a time and cut through the crumbly mixture with a silicone spatula.
- Once you’ve combined the gluten free flour, grated butter, xanthan gum and water, simply work the dough into a ball in the bowl using the spatula first then your hands (sparingly).
- Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge until ready to use it.
To make the fruit filling
- In a small bowl, weight the currants and brown sugar and add the boiled water. Give the fruit a stir and leave for a while to allow the dried fruit to plump.
- Next add the melted butter and the cornflour and mix well to combine. Either use immediately to make your Eccles Cakes or pop in the fridge for later.
Rolling out the rough puff
- Start rolling the rough puff in a folded sheet of cling film (plastic wrap).
- Using the clingfilm itself, fold the sides of the pastry over and reroll, repeating this process until the edges are no longer crumbly and you have a large enough rectangle to cut into 6 rough square shapes.
To make the Eccles Cakes
- Place a generous sized spoonful of currant filling in the centre of each rough puff square and fold each corner into the centre. then repeat with the new four corners. Pinch the pastry to seal and turn over with seal facing down. Repeat 5 more times.
- Place the clingfilm over the tops of the Eccles Cakes and gently roll flatter (not too flat!) Prick with a fork and glaze with the combined sugar and milk wash.
- Place the Eccles Cakes on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven at 220°C | 200°C fan | 425°F | Gas 7 for 18-20 minutes
- Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Enjoy still slightly warm with a cup of tea.
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