Saturday, 24 May 2014

Savoury Nettle, Ground Elder and Spinach 'Eccles' Cakes

I've written about Eccles cakes on my blog in the past, but for those of you may not be familiar with Eccles cakes - I am happy to write about them again.  Eccles cakes are a particular kind of English cake. Individual flaky pastries filled with either currants or raisins, glazed and coated in crunchy sugar grains.   Eccles cakes are believed to have originated in a little place called Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary but this has been debated by some food historians who argue that similar types of sweet patties were being made elsewhere in England.  To add to this, these sweet patties are known by different names. I’ve known them to be called Squashed Fly Cake, and even a Fly's Graveyard.  I’ve been told that they also exist in Scotland, but in a very different guise: simply as a fruit slice.  Something else of interest though, the word ‘eccles’ actually means church and is derived from the Greek word ‘Ecclestia' - Interesting, don't you think?!  

Well here is a savoury take on the sweet variety: made with Stilton cheese and my hedgerow scrummage of nettles and ground elder.  I also stirred in some spinach to the mix, only because I had some in the fridge.  The other reason, I highlight spinach it, if you don't have the opportunity to forage for some free wild foodie greens like nettles, wild garlic, mustard garlic or ground elder - then spinach will be a good alternative.    Anyway, back to this particular  savoury 'Eccles' cake - the pastry was light and flaky, (sometimes ready made comes in hand - yes even for me); and the filling was creamy and salty from the cheese, and silky from the sauteed robust greens. 
My preference for eating these savoury 'Eccles' cakes if definitely warm, but they would work well cold too, especially at room temperature. So perfect for taking to work for lunch or summer time picnics for those of you blessed with sunshine.  Talking of weather, the rain has been pelting down all day and the skies have been proper dark, even though its day-time, its feels like the evening.

Oh before I go, I must point out, especially to those you who have been loyally reading my blog for a while may recognise this dish a little, as I have made a variation of it before (plus due to poor lighting as well as being scoffed pretty quick, I've also had to the same photograph to showcase what the dish actually looked like,  so I hope you'll forgive me) . 

I am sharing these savoury 'Eccles' cakes with Alphabakes.  The chosen the letter this month is E.  Alphabakes is alternatively co-hosted by either Caroline at Caroline Makes or  Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker; as well as Fromage Homage for this months Cheesonal and Seasonal Cheese Please Challenge.

Savoury Nettle, Wild Elder, Spinach and Blue Cheese ‘Eccles’ Cakes
Makes 6
1 x ready rolled puff pastry
Plain flour for rolling
For the filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
450g fresh spinach and nettles, roughly chopped - well at least the spinach!
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried parsley
100g blue cheese, crumbled, I used Stilton
1-2 tablespoon dried breadcrumbs
Optional to glaze
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
First make the filling, heat the oil in a wide pan. Add the spinach and nettles, herb and season with salt and pepper, then cook over low heat until it has wilted and the liquid has mostly evaporated. 
Turn off heat and allow to cool before stirring in the breadcrumbs and blue cheese.
Lay pastry out on a board and first cut out 4 x 5 inch or 6 inch rounds. Then gather the pastry roll out with a rolling pin and cut out a further 2. 
Divide the filling between the pastry rounds, placing it in the centre of each. 
Dampen the edges of the pastry and gather the pastry over the filling. 
Press the pastry together in the centre forming a ball. 
Turn the balls over and flatten them lightly with a rolling pin. 
Using a sharp knife, make 2 - 3 small parallel cuts in the top of each. 
Brush the top and sides of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. 
Chill until ready to make.
Heat oven to Gas mark 5/190oc. 
Place on a baking tray and cook at the top of the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until evenly browned.  


  1. I would eat of these right now!
    I need to stop visiting your site so late at night. Cannot be good for my waist line LOL
    Peace :)

    1. Thank you Chandra :)
      Ah look as much as you want,you won't put any weight on from that distance :)

  2. Nom,nom! Could eat these anytime me thinks!

  3. thanks, so pleased you like them.

  4. Oh I think I might have to try these - am not lucky enough to have wild garlic but I do have wild garlic salt and some vegan blue cheese I must use - they look fantastic - I have just checked my bookmarks and seen that I have already bookmarked the recipe for the previous savoury eccles cakes you posted - sounds fantastic

    1. Oh I am curious about the wild garlic salt, you will have to share more about that as I've not heard of it before. Yes, I put my hand up. I am guilty, I have made this recipe before this time though it was filled with different ingredients :0 ) I did not get round to taking a pic of the freshly made ones this time round and decided to use old pics too - hope you will forgive me. I don't do it that often.Still I am real pleased that you have bookmarked it and look forward to seeing your vegan version soon. Happy holidays.

    2. perhaps seeing the old pics is why I recognised the recipe - I don't think there is a problem with posting different version of recipes - I find myself doing that and enjoy seeing how my recipes and my skills develop - hoping to make these tonight if I can get some cooking mojo happening. The wild garlic salt is something I have had before and I assume it has dried wild garlic through it - I have only tried wild garlic as dried herbs because someone sent them to me and they were surprisingly tasty.

    3. Oh I am pleased, to note that you do the same now and again. Your right skills and recipes do develop. As you know I've foraged for wild garlic loads, even dehydrated some in the oven once maybe these could work with salt. Will see your recipe and maybe try it out next year. I know what you mean about cooking mojo, as I've got a bit stuck in a rut sticking to what I know rather than being all experimental as I used to be. I think its not having ft employment, there was once a time I would lie awake thinking up new recipe combo and now i lie awake wondering when I'll get a ft job :( The stress hits now and again, esp as Ds work is contractual too and could any day. Still have to stay optimistic, not easy when its been years...

  5. They look lovely. I made some drop scones with blue cheese and nettles last year - such a good combination. I've never tried cooking with ground elder though; the smell is so pungent, I can't imagine what it would taste like. Delicious and so seasonal - thanks for sharing it with Cheese, Please! this month.

    1. The ground elder flavour overwhelmed the nettles to be honest and I don't think I'd use it again, as I really like nettles. Its heavy, closest I can describe it is well cooked okra.

  6. What a clever idea making savoury Eccles cake - I'd never have thought of that! I like the flavour combination that you've used as well as it sounds delicious. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.


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