Not that long ago, I wrote about a particularly nice variety of Lancashire cheese I’d discovered called Bowland, that is stuffed full of fruit and spices and resembles a slice of cake. I also mentioned the general affinity of certain types of cheese for fruitcake.
Staying with a Lancashire gastronomic theme, I’ve recently discovered another fine cheese / cake pairing.
The other day I found that my local supermarket was selling packs of Chorley cakes, which are similar to the better-known (and geographically fairly close) Eccles cakes but made with shortcrust instead of puff pastry and generally less sweetened. I’ve long been partial to Eccles cakes but didn’t recall trying Chorley cakes before, so naturally I had to rectify this gap in my education.
On returning home with my newly purchased comestibles, I did some research on Wikipedia (linked above) and discovered that Chorley cakes are often served with a bit of butter spread on top and accompanied by a bit of Lancashire cheese. As it happens, I’d bought a block of that in the same shopping trip (just the plain variety this time, not Bowland) and so I was able to try Chorley cakes in an authentic manner and discovered it to be a fine combination (apparently Eccles cakes are also often served with Lancashire cheese, though I haven’t yet had a chance to test this partnership).
Having tried some commercially produced Chorley cakes and guessing that they would be fairly simple to make, I dug out a recipe for them and had a go at making some this evening.
I was moderately pleased with how they turned out (at least the ones I’ve tested so far), although I think my ratio of pastry to filling was a bit too high.
The particular recipe I followed instructed to add a bit of baking powder to the pastry, which is (as far as I know, not being a very expert pastry chef) fairly unusual for shortcrust but seems to work quite nicely to make it a bit lighter.
The filling is supposed to be currants with butter and a bit of nutmeg. I didn’t have quite enough currants for the full amount, so I made up the difference using raisins (apparently an authentic Lancashire variation). The currants I did use were the tail end of a bag I got to do some baking several years ago, so they were probably not in the best condition but were still edible (though I probably wouldn’t have used them if I’d been baking for anybody else to eat).
The recipe also indicated that sugar was an optional ingredient, so I decided to try without on this occasion. This makes the cakes relatively unsweet, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This way they would probably work better with cheese than ones which are sweeter (unfortunately I didn’t have any cheese left to try with this batch) and they would also be reasonably diabetic-friendly (although probably not that healthy as they have a fair amount of butter (or cooking marge, as I used today) in them.
The cakes in this recipe were glazed with a bit of beaten egg, which I’m sure contributed to the golden brown finish and also left me with a nice bit of egg to make an omelette for dinner. Another recipe I looked at suggested glazing with milk; I imagine that would give a slightly paler glaze although might work quite well if you didn’t have an egg to hand.
I think I will definitely try making Chorley cakes again, although I will try to get a bit more filling in next time (and use slightly less out-of-date currants). I might have a go at Eccles cakes too, if I can nerve myself to try making puff pastry (or decide to wimp out and buy some ready made).
Incidentally, just to show that I am reasonably impartial as to the colour of my roses, I should perhaps mention that one of my favourite cheeses to accompany fruitcake is Wensleydale. 🙂