Once again, the six nations is set to fill our bars and restaurants with avid rugby fans that all need to eat and drink. Since 1882, nations have battled for the title and over time, the game has developed considerably. Equally, menus in each country have also changed over that time with dishes falling in and out of favour.
Each nation has its own (nearly) forgotten dishes and they make great ideas for serving on match days. So, over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you some of our favourite old-school dishes as well as some modern takes on those recipes.
The Eccles cake, as with most old recipes, has a quite vague history. The first reference to an Eccles-like recipe was found in a book called “The Experienced English Housekeeper”; in this book, published in 1769, it was listed as “sweet Patties”.
In more recent years, the late Winnie Swarbrick developed the recipe into the one we know and love today. Although Winnie’s profession was in a completely different trade, her recipe has been tasted and approved by many of the world’s greatest chefs and food critics. The tiny little packages of raisins in a blanket of crisp, fluffy, puff pastry will leave nothing to be desired.
Traditional English Eccles Cakes
225g (8 oz) plain flour
175g (6 oz) unsalted butter
125ml (4 fl oz) cold water
A pinch of salt
115g (4 oz) currants
15g (1/2 oz) caster sugar (plus extra for glazing)
40g (1 ½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
Freshly grated nutmeg
Milk, to glaze
1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, chop the butter into 4 equal chunks and add a quarter of the butter into the flour. Rub in until a breadcrumb-like consistency is achieved. Add just enough water for the mixture to form an elastic dough.
2. Dust your rolling surface with plenty of flour and roll the dough into a rectangle.
3. Take another portion of butter, grate and spread evenly across two thirds of the surface.
4. With the pastry in a landscape position, take the left edge and fold to centre then take the right edge and fold to centre, so that no butter remains exposed.
5. Press the layers together and allow to rest for an hour.
6. Repeat steps 2 - 5 twice.
7. After the last resting, roll out the dough until it is ¼” / 6mm thick (about the thickness of two pound coins), then cut out with a round 2 ¼” / 60mm cutter.
1. Take a bowl and mix together the currants, caster sugar and nutmeg.
2. Melt the butter, stir into the bowl and allow to cool.
3. Once cooled, take a dessert spoon and place one spoon full in the centre of each pastry disc.
4. Draw the edges of the pastry together, gently pinch to seal, flip them smooth side up and flatten slightly.
5. Slice the top three times to expose the delicious filling and allow steam to escape.
6. Brush with milk and sprinkle with an even coating of sugar.
7. With your oven set to about 180°C, bake the cakes for 15-20min, or until golden.