Eccles Cakes also Known as Coventry Godcakes and etc.

Traditions at Christmas in England  –

My maternal Great Grandmother was from Coventry, England in the Midlands.  Like any other region, they had their specialties.  Eccles cakes are a speciality from this region.  This recipe has been taken from a remarkable cookbook described under the tab “Browse Books.”

Good Things in England
Florence White
Jonathan Cape, 1932 (current edition published by Persephone Books

From the cookbook:

Eccles cakes, Banbury cakes, Coventry Godcakes, Hawkshead cake and Chorley cakes all belong to the same class. They consist of pastry, short or puff as the case may be, round in the case of Eccles and Chorley, which are much about the same size, and in the case of the Hawkshead cake which is as large as a plate; but at Coventry taking the form of an isosceles triangle, and at Banbury made in the oval shape of a rather wide shuttle.

Each and all are filled with a special mixture partaking of the character of the mincemeat we put in pies at Christmas time.

Here is a recipe for Eccles cakes. These have been made for the Eccles “wakes” from time immemorial. A pretty story is told about these cakes. It is said Mrs Raffald gave her own recipe as a wedding present to a servant girl who had served her well and was going to live at Eccles, and that the girl made and sold the cake so successfully that she made a fortune.

Bradburn’s, Eccles, today is advertised as “The only Old Original Eccles Cake Shop. Never removed. On the site of these Premises Eccles Cakes were first made. Rebuilt 1835.” [They are at any rate about the best I have tasted, and those sold at the old cottage opposite Eccles Cross where William Deacon’s Bank now stands were made and baked at Bradburn’s. The cottage had no ovens].

Recipe: Lancashire, 1904

Some short pastry
For the filling:
¼lb currants
1oz finely chopped peel
½ teaspoonful allspice and nutmeg
2oz sugar
1oz butter

Time: to heat and cool mixture about 20 to 30 minutes; to bake cakes 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven.

1. Put all the ingredients for the mixture into a pan and heat for a few minutes, then turn into a basin to cool.

2. Roll out short pastry (this is nicest if made of lard) to about ¼ inch thickness.

3. Cut into rounds.

4. Place a good tablespoon of the mixture on each round.

5. Gather up the edges, turn over and press with rolling-pin into flat cake; make a hole in the centre of the top crust.

6. Place on baking sheet 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven.

7. Sprinkle with castor sugar when cakes are cooked.

• These extracts are taken from Good Things in England by Florence White (Persephone, £10)

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12 thoughts on “Eccles Cakes also Known as Coventry Godcakes and etc.

  1. See how much you’re teaching me? I thought mincemeat was minced pork stuff that was mixed with spices and herbs. I’d see the pies around at Christmas time and wouldn’t go near them with a 10′ pole.

    I confess, I was one of those nightmare picky eaters as a child. Okay okay, and into my adult years too!

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    1. Old English recipe for mincemeat:

      Pie filling of mutton or beef must be finely minced and seasoned with pepper and salt and a little saffron to colour it. Add a good quantity of suet or marrow, a little vinegar, prunes, raisins and dates. Put in the fattest of the broth of salted beef. And, if you want Royal pastry, take butter and egg yolks and combine them with flour to make the paste.

      They forgot to mention the part about letting it ferment.

      You might want a longer pole!

      MR

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        1. That was an original mincemeat recipe from 16th century. It’s made a bit different now.

          Some recipes may not contain any meat at all, but might use butter or suet instead. It can be made completely vegetarian.

          I loved my Grandmother’s mincemeat pie when I was a kid. If I had known at the time what was in it, I might not have liked it quite as much!

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            1. I haven’t run across it yet. But there’s a good chance I might have it. If I can read it is another story.

              I’ve got a box full of old, hand-written recipes on index cards in wax sleeves to sort through. Some are badly faded, some are barely legible due to penmanship and some are lost to history.

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  2. We are all teaching each other as the comments on this post clearly show. I will be posting my Great grandmothers recipe for fruit cookies. You would love those.DK, my paternal Great grandfather was from Ayrshire. His family ran out of money to educate him as a professional so he was apprenticed to a draper in Glasgow. He learned all about piece goods. He came to the US, worked off his passage at a wholesale company and then hooked up with two others and formed a partnership to open a store.

    I’m 12/ English, 1/4 Scots, and 1/4 Irish. My name should be Great Britain and the great part perfetly describes me these days.

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    1. Fruit cookies sound tasty, Sam, I’m looking forward to your recipes. 😀

      I don’t think I’m any Scots. Maybe Scots-Irish but that’s more Irish than Scot. I know I’m not English. Mostly Irish and German, with a bit of French, and Cherokee. So I’ve heard. 🙂

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  3. What a wonderful blog. One of my son’s wordpress to expound on all things political. You writing is delisious. :0 ) Will try some of these recipes next week end.

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. My old coon hound (14 years) also died this past fall.

    Am just getting refocused and back on track. Many thanks for checking in ~ always so nice to hear from you!

    WR

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    1. WR, I overlooked this comment in error, alas. How very good to hear from you. I love coon hounds. They are so just, well, like a pair of comfortable old shoes made in the USA! I am caring for a lovely yellow lab for her breeder and if I do through 4 of her pregnancies, she will be mine. We shall see. I’m older and it’s a lot of work but I do so love Labs and so does my ancient Jack Russell Terrier. Thank you for you love of this blog. I have not contributed here as I should lately. Just today I took dreadful pictures with my droid and posted them here. I am not the photographer you are by any means. Again, good to see you here.

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