Dead Fly Pies
Men will bond over any number of things. Sports, cars, tools, music… Dead Fly Pies. That last one, more humanely called Eccles Cakes, is what my three sons and my husband have bonded over here in England. When they go out together, I know that at some point they’ll end up walking out of a bakery with a bag of Eccles Cakes and a pint of milk. They are happy as clams, sitting together on benches, mowing through their cakes and milk. They’re really going to miss the Eccles Cakes Experience when we fly home over the Pond next month.
Or will they? Yesterday at breakfast the boys and I were talking about how great their daddy is. We decided to surprise him with something when he came home from school. We would bake him Eccles Cakes. Not that any of us knew how.
But we do know how to use the Internet. A few keystrokes later, we had a recipe and an ingredient list. We boarded our trusty 101 bus for Asda, bought the goods, then came home and got busy.
The recipe seemed simple enough, and it was “officially approved” by the Salford City Council, home of Eccles Cakes. That has to count for something. Simply heat currants, candied peel,* nutmeg, butter, and sugar in a pot, then spoon a blob into the middle of circles we’d cut out of prepared, pre-rolled puff pastry dough, pinch the dough up around the blob, then voila!, Eccles Cakes ready for the oven. But the thing to remember whenever I say “simple” in regards to something in the kitchen is that I set my house on fire toasting tortillas. My adventurousness in the kitchen tends to be matched by my disastrousness.
While the Fly’s Graveyards baked, the boys decorated homemade gingerbread cookies. I’d ruined a perfectly lovely batch of them that morning, too, half were burnt, half were limp and undercooked, but with a little icing and a few Smarties for buttons, who would notice that the cookies tasted like ash cakes laced with ginger?
Then the 12-minute buzzer rang. The Eccles Cakes were done! The boys and I were excited. How would they come out?
As far as appearance goes, we all gave them an A right off. Nothing burnt, nothing limp, still round. Fab-o! Just look at the photo at the top of this blog post. Not bad, eh? Then the taste test came…and I got three thumbs up from the judges! Hurrah! We’d made our own Eccles Cakes! Wouldn’t Daddy be surprised?
And boy, was he. The boys wrapped up the container of cakes in Christmas wrapping, hid it behind the couch, and as soon as he walked in the front door that afternoon, they knocked him over in their shrieking race to the couch to find the package for him. I was a little nervous as he took his first bite. My husband is a great cook, what would he think of the taste? Is it anything like a real Eccles Cake? He took a bite, looked each boy in the eye… and gave the cakes DOUBLE thumbs up. Hurray! The boys were so proud that they ate the whole box with their dad in the span of just minutes. Dinner was shot.
As the boys turned their ferociously chomping jaws on the final gingerbread cookies, I pulled my husband aside and asked, “Really, how are they? Do they taste anything like they’re supposed to?” (I don’t know, remember, because I don’t like Eccles Cakes.)
My husband looked me in the eye, held up his last Eccles Cake, and chomped down. “Absolutely,” he said through a mouthful of Dead Flies. “They’re the best Eccles Cakes I’ve ever tasted.” I love this guy.
So now I’ve got the Salford City Council-approved Eccles Cake recipe stored in my computer. The Eccles Cake Experience isn’t going to be left behind in England after all, Dead Fly Pies are gonna hop the Pond with us.
*candied peel: I didn’t know what this was either. Turns out it was just lemon and orange peel with sugar. Nothing fancy.