Eccles cakes. Supposed to be currants, but we are the colony so we don’t care. Apparently called “fly pies” or “fly graveyards” because currants look like dead flies, a little bon mot that I am sorry Mr. Oliver didn’t roll with. CHARMING DEAD FLIES PASTRY. You Americans may not get it.
To the Bullet List!
- British people are obsessed with demerera sugar.
- It seems a little fussy that there is a fresh bay leaf in this recipe, but it truly requires it. Dry won’t work, and leaving it out is possible but sad, like going back to make the police in E.T. carrying flashlights instead of guns.
- Jesus, this is a lot of citrus zest for only like a dozen little pastries. And a lot of spices. A half a damn fresh nutmeg! FUCK I SHOULD HAVE GRATED THAT BEFORE THE CITRUS. Now I am washing and drying my stupid microplane grater. I think that rich people might own two and not have this problem.
- Oh my god this smells too strong, I feel like my nostrils are barfing.
- I was interrupted and went outside to do something, and walking back inside I find that the kitchen is actually delightfully pungent, like Jamie Oliver was here applying Old Spice to his underarms.
- You are supposed to roll out the puff pastry until it is 1/8th an inch thick, but to be honest the Trader Joes puff pastry is pretty much already there. I try to roll it a little anyway and it isn’t going great. I decide to skip to the cutting of the circle bits part.
- This does not go great either. Round cutter didn’t need a handle anyway. Except for that sharp bit around the rim, I mean, that needed a handle.
- I am not totally on board with the description for forming these things. “Put a tablespoon of fruit filling into the middle of each pastry circle, then stretch the pastry up and over the filling, bringing it together on top and sealing it in the middle.” Actually now that I type it out it makes sense, but at the time it wasn’t immediately apparent that you are making a bun with the seal on the bottom. I’m not sure why this was hard for me.
- My first several attempts are pretty sloppy. Ultimitely, I don’t really like this technique because it makes a small lump of unpuffed puff pastry in the bottom of the cake, but this is me being a whiny butt. Folding over and crimping the edges would make for nice crisp, chewy edges.
- I feel like a jerk toward these things. I don’t like how they look. I don’t like the way they smell. I catch myself wanting them to fail.
- They do not fail. They are, as a point of fact, charming. Somehow the great odiferousness has receded to a homey, complex perfume of fall and weekends. The bay leaf is remarkable – a woody cologne, a sort of savory partner that I was not aware pumpkin pie spice needed. I am now considering bay leaf in pumpkin pie.
- Son of a bitch, these things are actually delicious. Mike the Viking and I can’t stop eating them. I burn the roof of my mouth, and later literally cut the inside of my lip on a shard of melted sugar, and still it doesn’t stop me. Mike says: “These are what I want cinnamon rolls to be!” to which I respond, we do not have similar memories of cinnamon rolls at all, I think. He argues: “They are spicy and have raisins in them.” He is not wrong but HE IS ALSO NOT RIGHT.
Charming Eccles Cakes
from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, summarized lightly by Anger Burger for laziness’ sake.
1 large fresh bay leaf
zest of 1 whole lemon
zest of 1 whole orange
1/2 grated fresh nutmeg
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup demerara sugar*
5oz. mixed dried fruits, chopped fine (I used apricots, cherries and golden raisins)**
2 balls preserved ginger, chopped + tsp. syrup (I used chopped candied ginger + 1 tsp. honey)
2 1/2 oz. apple, diced small (about 3/4 an apple)
17oz package of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
demerara sugar for sprinkling
*Turbinado sugar is more commonly found in the US, and is the same thing.
** The recipe also suggests sour bilberries (which people in Skyrim eat), and cranberries as options.
- With a mortar and pestle, bash up the bay leaf to release the oils. Add the lemon and orange zest, the nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice and as much of the sugar as will comfortably fit into the mortar. Give the whole thing a couple seconds of vigorous stir-grinding, then turn out into another bowl with the rest of the sugar. Mr. Oliver does not say anything about what to do with the leaf, which got very tatty and broke down pretty far, so I just picked out the big stringy bits and left the ground up leaves. Add the dried fruit, the diced apple and the ginger (and honey, if you don’t have the ginger jarred in syrup, which you probably don’t because presumably you don’t live in the UK, but I realize a few of you do so congrats). Set aside.
- If your puff pastry is really thick, roll it on a lightly floured board until 1/8 inch thick. Otherwise continue with cutting out 4-inch circles. If you have a 3-inch biscuit cutter, as is more common, that is OK – just take each circle and gently stretch it out with your fingers until it is bigger.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment and heat oven to 400°. Put a tablespoon of filling into each circle of puff pastry and pull the sides of the pastry up around it, sealing at the top like a balloon. Turn over and press down pretty firmly to flatten from a ball-shape to a fat-patty-shape, without breaking the pastry. Make a few cuts in the top of each one, and then brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.