What Does Eccles Cake Taste Like?

Eccles cakes are a delightful pastry treat that originated in England. They are famous for their sweet, buttery pastry and fruity, spiced filling. If you’ve never tasted an Eccles cake before, you might be wondering what to expect.

Eccles Cake
Eccles Cake

What is an Eccles Cake?

An Eccles cake is essentially a pastry with a sweet and spicy filling. The pastry is made from a thin and flaky dough that is rolled out and filled with a mixture of currants, sugar, butter, and spices. The dough is then folded and sealed, creating a distinctive shape with a crimped edge. Once baked, Eccles cakes have a golden brown color and a sugary glaze on top.

History and Origin of Eccles Cake

Eccles cakes have a rich history that dates back several centuries. They are believed to have originated in the town of Eccles in the 18th century. The recipe was first recorded in the cookbook “The Experienced English Housekeeper” by Elizabeth Raffald in 1769. Since then, Eccles cakes have become a beloved treat throughout England and beyond.

Ingredients of Eccles Cake

The key ingredients in Eccles cakes include:

  1. Pastry: The pastry is made from flour, butter, and water, which create a flaky and buttery texture.
  2. Currants: Currants are small dried grapes that add sweetness and a chewy texture to the filling.
  3. Brown Sugar: Brown sugar enhances the sweetness and caramelizes during baking, adding depth of flavor.
  4. Butter: Butter adds richness and moisture to the filling.
  5. Mixed Spice: A blend of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice adds warmth and complexity to the filling.

Sweetness and Sugary Glaze

One of the defining characteristics of Eccles cakes is their sweetness. The filling, made with currants and brown sugar, provides a deliciously sweet and slightly tangy taste. The currants offer bursts of natural sweetness, while the brown sugar adds a caramel-like flavor that enhances the overall sweetness of the cake.

Buttery Pastry

The pastry of an Eccles cake is made with butter, which gives it a rich and buttery taste. The buttery pastry provides a delicate and flaky texture that contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the filling. When baked, the pastry becomes golden and crisp, adding a delightful crunch to each bite.

Spiced Filling

The filling of an Eccles cake is infused with a blend of spices known as mixed spice. This mixture typically includes spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. These spices add warmth, depth, and complexity to the filling, creating a flavorful balance with the sweetness of the currants and sugar. The spiced filling gives Eccles cakes a distinct and aromatic taste that is both comforting and satisfying.

Fruity and Sticky Texture

In addition to their unique taste, Eccles cakes also offer a delightful texture. The combination of the plump currants and the sweet syrup created by the sugar and butter results in a sticky and slightly gooey filling. This sticky texture, along with the flaky pastry, creates a wonderful contrast that makes each bite of an Eccles cake truly enjoyable.

Overall, Eccles cakes have a well-rounded flavor profile that combines sweetness, butteriness, spiciness, and fruity textures. These elements work harmoniously together, creating a treat that is both comforting and indulgent.

Variations of Eccles Cake

While the traditional Eccles cake recipe remains popular, there are also some delightful variations to explore. Here are a few notable ones:

  1. Cheese Eccles Cake: In this variation, a savory twist is added to the classic recipe by incorporating cheese, such as Lancashire or Cheddar, into the filling. The combination of the tangy cheese with the sweet and spiced elements creates a unique flavor experience.
  2. Apple Eccles Cake: This variation swaps out the currants for thinly sliced apples. The apples bring a refreshing and slightly tart taste to the cake, balancing out the sweetness. Cinnamon or apple pie spice can be added to enhance the apple flavor.
  3. Apricot Eccles Cake: Instead of currants, this version features diced dried apricots in the filling. The apricots provide a subtle tanginess and a bright burst of flavor. This variation is particularly popular during the summer months when fresh apricots are in season.
  4. Nutty Eccles Cake: For those who enjoy added texture and richness, a nutty Eccles cake is a fantastic choice. Chopped nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, are mixed into the filling, imparting a delightful crunch and nutty undertones.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

Eccles cakes are a versatile treat that can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some serving and pairing suggestions to enhance your Eccles cake experience:

  1. Traditional Tea Time: Serve Eccles cakes as part of a traditional English afternoon tea. Pair them with a piping hot cup of tea, such as Earl Grey or English Breakfast, for a classic and comforting combination.
  2. Cheese and Eccles Cake Board: Create a cheese and Eccles cake board for a delightful and unique appetizer. Arrange a selection of cheeses, both savory and mild, alongside sliced Eccles cakes. The combination of flavors and textures will impress your guests.
  3. Dessert Delight: Serve Eccles cakes warm, straight from the oven, with a dollop of clotted cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The contrast of the warm pastry and the cool, creamy accompaniment is simply heavenly.
  4. Brunch Treat: Incorporate Eccles cakes into a brunch menu by serving them alongside fresh fruit, yogurt, and a drizzle of honey. This lighter approach allows the flavors of the cake to shine while providing a satisfying start to the day.

Popular Brands and Bakeries

While homemade Eccles cakes are a delight, several renowned brands and bakeries have perfected the art of creating these treats. Some popular ones include:

  1. Salford City Bakery: This bakery in Eccles, the birthplace of the Eccles cake, continues to produce these delectable treats using traditional recipes and methods.
  2. Carrs Pasties: Located in Greater Manchester, Carrs Pasties has been making Eccles cakes for over 80 years. They are known for their high-quality ingredients and attention to detail.
  3. Greggs: A well-known bakery chain in the UK, Greggs offers a mass-produced version of Eccles cakes. While not as artisanal as smaller bakeries, their Eccles cakes are still loved by many.

How to Make Eccles Cake at Home

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at making Eccles cakes at home, here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and cold, cubed butter. Use your fingertips or a pastry cutter to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Gradually add the cold water, a little at a time, and mix until the dough comes together. Be careful not to overmix. Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the currants, brown sugar, melted butter, and mixed spice until well combined.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a large rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the edges to create neat edges.
  6. Cut the dough into smaller squares or circles, approximately 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a spoonful of the currant filling in the center of each square or circle.
  7. Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape. Press the edges firmly to seal, and use a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative finish.
  8. Transfer the filled Eccles cakes onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with beaten egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry turns golden brown and crispy.
  10. Once baked, remove the Eccles cakes from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
  11. Serve the Eccles cakes warm or at room temperature, and enjoy the delightful combination of sweet, spiced filling and buttery pastry.

Now that you have a recipe to make Eccles cakes at home, you can indulge in the joy of freshly baked pastries whenever you desire.

Eccles Cake vs. Other Pastries

While Eccles cakes have their unique taste and charm, it’s interesting to compare them to other pastries with similar characteristics. Let’s explore a couple of comparisons:

Eccles Cake vs. Chelsea Bun

Both Eccles cakes and Chelsea buns are iconic British pastries with distinct flavors and textures. While Eccles cakes are smaller and round, Chelsea buns are larger and typically shaped like a spiral roll.

Eccles cakes are filled with a spiced currant mixture and have a flaky, buttery pastry. On the other hand, Chelsea buns are made with a sweet, yeasted dough and filled with ingredients like cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and sometimes nuts. They are often glazed with a sweet syrup or icing.

In terms of taste, Eccles cakes have a more compact and concentrated flavor due to their smaller size. The spices and currants create a rich and distinctive taste. Chelsea buns, with their softer dough and varied fillings, offer a lighter and sweeter experience.

Eccles Cake vs. Bakewell Tart

Another comparison worth exploring is between Eccles cakes and Bakewell tarts, both of which are beloved British treats.

Eccles cakes are filled with currants, sugar, butter, and spices, encased in a

Eccles cakes are filled with currants, sugar, butter, and spices, encased in a flaky pastry. On the other hand, Bakewell tarts consist of a shortcrust pastry base filled with a layer of jam (traditionally raspberry) and an almond frangipane filling, topped with flaked almonds.

In terms of taste, Eccles cakes have a sweet and spicy flavor with a fruity and sticky texture. The currants and spices provide depth and warmth to the filling, while the buttery pastry adds richness. On the other hand, Bakewell tarts offer a combination of tangy sweetness from the jam, nuttiness from the almond filling, and the buttery richness of the pastry.

Cultural Significance of Eccles Cake

Eccles cakes hold cultural significance as a beloved British pastry that has stood the test of time. They are deeply ingrained in the culinary traditions of England and are often associated with the concept of afternoon tea and quintessential British treats.

Eccles cakes are not only enjoyed within the local community but have also gained popularity worldwide. They are sought-after by travelers visiting England and are often seen as a symbol of British culinary heritage.


Are Eccles cakes only popular in England?

Eccles cakes have their roots in England and are particularly popular there. However, their fame has spread, and they are enjoyed by pastry lovers worldwide.

Can I freeze Eccles cakes?

Yes, Eccles cakes can be frozen. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag, and they can be stored for up to three months. Thaw them at room temperature or reheat in the oven to enjoy.

Are Eccles cakes suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, Eccles cakes are typically suitable for vegetarians as they do not contain any meat or animal-derived ingredients. However, it’s always best to check the specific brand or bakery for any variations in the recipe.

Can I substitute the currants in Eccles cakes with other fruits?

While currants are the traditional choice for Eccles cakes, you can experiment with other dried fruits like raisins, sultanas, or even diced dried apricots for a different flavor profile.

How long do Eccles cakes stay fresh?

Freshly baked Eccles cakes are best enjoyed within a couple of days. To maintain their freshness, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. However, for the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume them as soon as possible.


In conclusion, Eccles cakes are a delightful treat with a unique taste that combines sweetness, butteriness, spiciness, and fruity textures. They have a rich history dating back centuries and hold cultural significance within England and beyond.

I'm Jennifer Tirrell, a self-taught baker, and founder of CakeRe. As an experienced baker and recipe publisher, I have spent over a decade working in the kitchen and have tried and tested countless baking tools and products. From classic cakes to creative twists, I've got you covered. So grab your apron and let's get baking!

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