Chorley Cakes

Chorley Cakes are a traditional currant-filled pastry which originates from Chorley in Lancashire, England.  The are similar to Eccles Cakes, except that Chorley Cakes are made with shortcrust pastry rather than puff pastry.  They are also not so sweet as Eccles Cakes.

I have read somewhere that in days gone by Chorley Cakes were often buttered before being eaten.  I also believe that they may have been eaten with cheese.  I think that maybe they were more biscuit/cookie like than the ones I am making, or that can be bought in stores today.

Although the filling is currants, with a little sugar and butter, it can be enhanced by the addition of other flavours too.  For mine I am adding a little nutmeg and zest from lemon and orange.  Other flavours can be added too, depending on tastes.

The recipe is actually very simple and doesn’t take too much time, or effort, to make.  The resulting pastry is deliciously buttery and the filling is, for me, just the perfect blend of fruitiness and sweetness.

My Chorley Cakes turned out very well indeed.  They baked well and tasted so good.

Chorley Cakes
Chorley Cakes – VideoIngredients:

for the pastry:

  • 300g(2 cups) plain flour, based on packed flour scooped into a cup being 150g
  • 25g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 180g(13 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 80ml(1/3 cup) milk – not all the milk may be needed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

for the filling:

  • 200(1 1/2 cups) currants
  • 50g(1/4 cup) soft light brown sugar
  • 50g(3 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted 
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • zest, finely grated, from 1 lemon
  • zest, finely grated, from 1 orange
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • water to seal the dough
  • caster sugar to sprinkle on top after baking, if desired

Method:

  1. Put the flour, salt, baking powder and caster sugar into a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Add the butter, cubed, and rub between your fingers until you have a coarse mixture, resembling wet sand.
  3. Add the milk, maybe one tablespoon at a time, and stir around until the mixture clumps together. You may not need all of the milk, as you need to achieve a moist, soft, but not sticky, dough.  
  4. Tip the dough out onto a work surface and pull into a ball of dough.  If the dough is sticky add a little more flour and gently work it in until the stickiness has gone.
  5. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. As the dough chills place add the sugar, zest and nutmeg to the currants and stir to combine.
  7. Add the melted butter and stir to get the currants coated.  Then set the mixture to one side.
  8. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts(your can roll out the dough into a large flat piece but I found it easier to work with individual pieces.
  9. Roll each piece into round 14cm(5 1/2 inches) in diameter.
  10. Spoon about 1/8th of the currant mixture(37g) into the centre of the rolled out dough.
  11. Use a finger to wet all around the edge of the dough and then pull the edges up to seal them together, squeezing the seams and forming a ball with the filling in the middle. 
  12. Turn the ball over and press down to flatten it into a round of 7.5cm/3 inches.  Some of the currants may be visible through the top of the dough, that is fine.
  13. Place the flattened cakes on a parchment-lined baking tray and chill in the fridge as the oven is brought to temperature.
  14. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/375 F.
  15. Brush the top of each of the Chorley Cakes with beaten egg.
  16. Make two or three slits in the top of the pastry, with a sharp knife.
  17. Bake the Chorley Cakes in the oven for 25 minutes, until they have turned a nice golden brown on the top.
  18. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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