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It's never too late to learn to bake with Mrs Simkins                                            November 2010  

It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Bake with Mrs Simkins

Cooking with Mrs Simkins: How to Cook Simple, Wholesome, Home-made Meals Popular cookery author Mrs Simkins is recognised for her straightforward writing and easy-to-follow recipes.

Her work, which includes a weekly column in the popular Blackmore Vale Magazine in the West Country, is based on a lifelong interest in food and developing new recipes plus over thirty years cooking for family and friends.

See Mrs Simkins Suggests... for kitchen equipment suggestions

Her first book ‘Cooking with Mrs Simkins’ is out now and available from Amazon. Her second bookTea with Mrs Simkins is also out.



Baking may be one of those things you have always meant to do but have never quite got around to. Maybe you do bake but feel you could improve a bit more. Maybe you are an accomplished baker already but just love trying out new recipes or new ways of doing things. Whichever applies to you, I hope you will find something in this monthly column that will appeal!


This month

Eccles cakesEccles Cakes

Some people put spices into Eccles Cakes but there is really no need: it’s a shame to detract from the flavour of the currants. Currants have a naturally light citrussy flavour and it’s nice to enhance that a bit more with a little finely grated lemon zest, but leave it out if you prefer. Have one of these with a strong cup of tea tucked up in front of the fire on a wintry afternoon; or take one with you ‘to keep the cold out’ on a bracing winter walk.



Makes 8

1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge until pliable: try to get Dorset Pastry puff pastry if you can

8 dessertspoons currants
25g (1oz) soft brown sugar
25g (1 oz) butter
1 tablespoon water
Very finely grated zest of half a lemon

1 egg, beaten
Caster sugar to finish



Preheat oven to 200C (fan oven) or equivalent

Put the currants, with the sugar, butter, water and lemon zest, into a pan and cook gently until the butter has melted, the sugar has lost its grittiness, and the currants are plumping up nicely. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan. Leave to cool.

Working on an average size of about 230mm x 400ml for your sheet of pastry, put it on a lightly floured board and cut into 8 equal squares with straight, decisive movements, using a sharp, non-serrated knife.

Take a square at a time and brush round the edges with beaten egg. Put a dessertspoonful of the currant mixture in the middle.

Starting with the corners, draw them into the middle and press them down. Use kitchen scissors to snip away any excess overhang – so the bottom doesn’t become too ‘wodgy’ with too many layers of overlapping pastry that might not cook through properly. Use another dab of beaten egg to stick it down where necessary.

You should now have an approximately round shape. Flip it over so the sealed part is underneath, and smooth the sides with the flat of your hands, keeping your hands vertical to the board, and turning the cake round, as you do so. Pat the top gently with your middle three fingers. You should now have a neat round cake.

If the pastry has become a little warm during handling, put the shaped cakes in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before the next stage.

Add a drop of water to the beaten egg and use it to brush over the cakes. Sprinkle with caster sugar and make several holes with a skewer or the prongs of a carving fork.

Lay the cakes on the prepared baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes or so until they are crisp and golden.

There may be a little ‘seepage’ from the currants on the baking tray, when you take them out of the oven, but this is quite normal. Lift them off the tray with a fish slice and transfer to a cooling rack.

Eat slightly warm or cold – but not boiling hot as the currants retain the heat for quite a while after they come out of the oven.

Once cold, store in an airtight container.

Mrs Simkins
© 2010


You can email Mrs Simkins at


Mrs Simkins Suggests...


mermaid cookwareMermaid Hard Anodised Baking Sheet £25

When it comes to high quality, reliable baking ware you can’t beat something with an anodised coating and Mermaid make some of the best. Anodised baking ware may be pricey but it’s tough, it’s hard, it’s long lasting and crucially it’s non-stick and conducts heat efficiently and reliably to whatever you are baking.

Perfect for bread, biscuits and pastries.


Tea with Mrs Simpkins


Tea with Mrs Simkins
Published by Spring Hill, an Imprint of How to Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-905862-43-6
Available in October 2010 and available to pre-order now from Amazon, £12.99



Previous articles in the series:

Cookery column 1 - Baking scones
Cookery column 2 - Easter biscuits
Cookery column 3 - Lemon Drizzle cake
Cookery column 4 - Ginger batter buns
Cookery column 5 - Coconut tarts
Cookery column 6 - Cosy cake
Cookery column 7 - Dorset Apple Cake



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