Spiced fig Eccles with Gippsland blue

Spiced fig Eccles with Gippsland blue

William Meppem

Eccles is a town in the north of England that is rightly famous for its cakes. I still remember my first day at cooking school, trying to make sense of puff pastry in order to achieve my first Eccles cake – and failing miserably! But I didn’t need to worry, as you don’t need the best pastry to make good Eccles – it relies on the filling, and plenty of it. So this is a good way of utilising any scraps of puff pastry you may have. Figs are my contribution to this British classic, because of their affinity with blue cheese. Gippsland blue is a farmhouse cheese from Victoria, made from cow’s milk. It is at its best in mid-December, like our figs. The outside of the cheese is flecked with orange and white moulds, and it has a soft, sticky interior with a creamy, rich flavour, thanks to the lush pastures of Gippsland.


Quantity Ingredient
350g Puff pastry
3 egg yolks, beaten with a splash of water
3 egg whites
50g caster sugar
4 x 100g portions gippsland blue


Quantity Ingredient
250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g almond meal
250g raisins
250g currants
250g mixed peel
175ml brandy
2 lemon, juiced
4 very ripe black or green figs


  1. Roll out the puff pastry into 3 mm thin sheets on a floured work surface. Cut out 4 circles that are 10 cm in diameter, and 4 more circles at 12 cm in diameter. Set the pastry aside, layered between greaseproof paper, in the refrigerator to rest.
  2. To make the filling, in a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy. Incorporate the spices and almond meal, then mix in the fruit, brandy and lemon juice.
  3. Preheat oven to 140°C.
  4. Remove the rested pastry from the refrigerator. Brush the edges of the 10 cm circles with beaten egg yolk, then place heaped tablespoons of the fruit and spice mixture in the centre of each one. Cut a cross in the top of the figs and open them up slightly. Place them on top of the filling, followed by more filling spooned into the figs – add as much filling as you can while ensuring the cakes can be properly sealed.
  5. Make 6 incisions each 2 cm long in the centre of the larger pastry circles, then stretch the pastry over each fig and filling. Pinch the pastry together at the edges to seal. Brush with egg white and sprinkle caster sugar over the top and sides of the cake. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden-brown.
  6. Serve the Eccles cakes hot with the cheese – at room temperature – alongside.

Chef’s note

  • These cakes are also delicious with mature cheese such as Pyengana cheddar and Ironstone gouda, baked inside with the figs as a filling.
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