During my last visit to London I had a bit of a baker-changing moment. Now, those who know me well will already know that I love St John. I adore absolutely everything it is that they do, think their bakery section is truly a sight behold, and still firmly believe that they are responsible for the greatest doughnuts ever created. But on this particular occasion, having convinced myself that it may be wise to try something other than these doughy delights for breakfast, I decided to partake in that other quintessential baked British treat, the Eccles cake. And on that cold, crisp day down at Maltby street, as I bit into its sweet flaky crust, well... oh my!
At first I didn't quite know what had me so besotted; after all they're really nothing more than few spiced currants wrapped in pastry. But with a weakness for pastries most certainly playing some part there was, of course, that sticky caramel crust haphazardly formed by a little wayward filling and, ultimately, it was the manner of their suggested consumption that really clinched it: "enjoyed hot - or cold - and are particularly fine when consumed with cheese". Perfect.
But having returned home, St John's fixation happily sated and excited by the promise of newly-found treats, it quickly became apparent that we're not that enamoured by the humble Eccles down here, and I was soon left to lament their relegation to the 'reasons to move overseas' list.
Then it came...
"...we are open this [Queen's birthday] weekend, including Monday. Eccles cakes to celebrate!"
Huzzah! Someone at one of my favourite bakery's had succumbed to their yearnings for home and was to be selling this much longed-for treat. Oh happy days! And so it was, with these excited cries still resonating, that the inevitable happened...
"...terribly sorry, we've sold out."
Clearly I wasn't the only one with fond memories of this delectable sweet, and it was going to take a little more persistence to satisfy my Eccles needs. As luck would have it this particular long weekend occurrence kickstarted a social media ado, and as one thing lead to another and conversations snowballed, all of a sudden a 'Great Eccles-off' had been organised and was being held this Friday. But what should have been cause for excitement soon turned to defeat, for in all this talk and fond recollection of my first ever Eccles, I'd never actually made them myself, and you can't very well ask to step up and play with the big kids when you've nothing to bring to the table.
So as The Great Eccles-off came and went, a good sulk turned to sturdy resolve and come Saturday morning it was straight to the kitchen for a little Ecclestrian adventure of my own. As alluded to earlier there's really not that much to it. You make the pastry.
You fill it with currants.
To see how my Eccles stood up against Melbourne's best I did finally manage to get my hands on one of these:
And, while I've clearly got some way to go before measuring up, it was a fun (and not to mention delicious!) way to figure out what I'd change next time around.
Still, not bad for a first attempt. Now if you'll excuse me...