Eccles Cakes with Pedro Ximénez and Manchego Cheese
Will Torrent trained under Heston Blumenthal at the age of 16, won Young Chef of the Year in 2009. He now has a book out which celebrates the great British tradition of afternoon tea. Learn how to make and bake the most exquisite cakes, scones and savoury delicacies with Will’s no-nonsense recipes.
- 500g all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1–2 tbsp golden caster
- Manchego cheese, to serve
- 150g dried Zante currants
- 2–3 tbsp Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry
- 30g demerara sugar
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- freshly grated nutmeg
- zest of ½ orange
- 25g butter, melted
- a 6.5-cm/2.-inch, 7-cm/2.-inch and 8-cm/3.-inch round cookie cutter
- 2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment
- Prepare the filling first. Combine the currants with the Pedro Ximénez, demerara sugar, spices and orange zest in a small pan. Set over a low heat to warm the sherry but do not allow it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, stir well and set aside for about two hours to allow the currants to absorb the warm liquid and become plump and juicy.
- Roll out half of the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of no more than two mm/1⁄16 inch. Using the smallest and largest cookie cutters stamp out as many discs as you can – you will need an equal number of small and large discs as one is the base and the other one the top for each cake. Repeat with the remaining pastry.
- Arrange the smaller discs on the prepared baking sheets leaving a little space between each one. Drain the currants of any excess liquid and spoon a rounded teaspoon of the plump currants into the middle of each disc.
- Brush around the edges with a little water and top with the larger pastry discs, pressing the edges to seal. Chill the Eccles cakes in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190C (375F) Gas 5.
- Press the medium-sized cookie cutter over each Eccles cake to neaten and trim the edges and cut three short lines in the top of each one.
- Brush the beaten egg white over the top of each cake, sprinkle with golden caster sugar and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry is well-risen, crisp and golden brown.
- Leave to cool slightly before serving with Manchego cheese.
Extracted from Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£19.99) Photography by Matt Russell © Ryland Peters & Small