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James Martin's Blackburn and Eccles cakes

James Martin / 06 March 2019

The apple filling from Blackburn cakes are combined with the currant filling of an Eccles cake to create this delicious pastry.

James Martin's Blackburn and Eccles cakes
James Martin's Blackburn and Eccles cakes. Photography © Peter Cassidy




  • 450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g cold butter, grated
  • A pinch of salt
  • 200ml iced water
  • 1 egg white
  • 25g caster sugar

For the filling

  • 1 large Bramley apple (around 360g), diced
  • 35g salted butter
  • 100g currants
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 25g light soft brown sugar

To serve

  • Stilton and cheddar cheese


A combination of Blackburn cakes, which contain cooked apple, and the classic Eccles cakes, which are filled with currants, these delicious pastry cakes are a must on a cheese board. Other similar cakes from around the country are Chorley cakes, which are less sweet with a shortcrust pastry and Banbury cakes, which are a larger oval version of a classic Eccles.

First make the filling. Put the diced apple into a small pan with ½ tablespoon water, cover with a lid, and cook gently over a low heat until they start to break down. Spoon into a shallow bowl, spread out thinly (so it cools quicker) and chill.

Melt the butter in a separate pan and add the currants and both types of sugar. Stir together and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.

Spoon into a bowl and chill. Now make the pastry. Tip the flour into a bowl and stir in the butter and salt. Drizzle the water over the top and mix with a roundbladed table knife to bring the mixture together to make a rough dough. Use your hands to gently and quickly knead the mixture until smooth. Form the pastry into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/400°F/gas 6.

Dust a clean work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 4 even pieces. Roll out one piece until it’s around 3–4mm thick. Use a 10-cm round cutter to stamp out 3 rounds. Divide the apple mixture roughly into 12 and put a spoonful into the middle of each round of pastry.

Do the same with the currant mixture. Fold the pastry over the filling and seal together tightly. Flip over, shape into a round, and pop onto a large baking sheet. Do the same with the rest of the pastry and filling until you’ve shaped 12 cakes.

Brush each pastry cake with egg white and sprinkle with a little caster sugar, then cut 2 or 3 slits in the top of each with a knife. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until golden and the pastry is crisp. Cool on a wire rack until warm and serve with the cheese.

James Martin's Great British Adventure

Extracted from James Martin’s Great British Adventure by James Martin (Quadrille, £25) Photography © Peter Cassidy

For more traditional cooking ideas visit our British recipes section


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.