Go Back
+ servings
Close up of Chorley cakes, one split open and one with butter on top
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Chorley Cakes

Chorley cakes are a much-loved traditional bake from the North-west of England featuring currants wrapped up in shortcrust pastry. They are quick to make and amazing served warm with a little butter.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Baking
Cuisine: British, English
Servings: 8
Calories: 320kcal

Ingredients

For the Pastry (or use 300g storebought - see notes)

  • 200 g Plain flour all-purpose
  • ¾ teaspoon Baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 100 g Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Cold water

For the Filling

  • 200 g Currants
  • 50 g Light brown sugar
  • teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 50 g Butter
  • A little beaten egg - for glazing

Instructions

  • Put the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl and stir briefly. Cube the butter, add to the bowl and rub in
  • Pour in 2 tablespoons of the water and mix, with a blunt knife, to a soft dough, adding more water only if necessary (do not add so much that the dough turns sticky)
  • Bring the dough together with your hands then turn out onto a lightly floured worktop and knead briefly until smooth. Flatten slightly, wrap and chill for 30 minutes to allow the glutens in the pastry to relax
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F/ GM 6 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment
  • When ready to assemble make the filling: put the currants, sugar and nutmeg into a bowl, melt the butter and stir until combined
  • Roll the pastry out into a rectangle approx 18cm x 36 cm. Trim off any straggly edges then divide into 8 squares measuring approximately 9cm x9cm. If the dough does not roll out to these dimensions, ensure that is around 3mm deep, cut as many squares as possible, then press the leftover dough back together and reroll to cut further squares - aim for 8 squares in total
  • Divide all of the filling evenly between the eight squares of pastry dough, using a spoon to pile it into the centre of each one
  • Dip a pastry brush in some beaten egg and run it around the edges of 1 square of pastry to dampen. Gather two opposite corners of pastry up towards the centre and press together lightly. Gather the other corners up to the centre too, pushing the filling back into the centre as you do so. When all corners are gathered gently press the pastry seams together and draw the edges into the centre to form a circle
  • When all edges are sealed, turn the pastry over, so the seams are underneath and use lightly floured hands to form a circular shape. Use a rolling pin to slightly flatten each pastry (roll lightly once, then rotate the pastry and roll again. Repeat as necessary until the fruit becomes visible (each Chorley cake should be around 6-7cm at this stage)
  • Repeat steps 7-8 with the remaining squares of dough then brush each top with a little beaten egg and use a sharp knife to cut three slashes across the top of each cake
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden

Notes

Cooking Tips

  • Storebought shortcrust pastry can be used in this recipe, but as it is unlikely to contain baking powder, the texture will be very slightly different
  • Never skip the chilling of the pastry dough. It is easier to handle when sufficiently chilled and will bake to a superior texture (especially on a hot day)
  • Each pastry square needs to be approximately 9x9 cm in order to hold the filling, so measuring the pastry before cutting is a good idea
  • Ideally roll your pastry into a rectangle approx 18 cm x 36cm - so that the 8 squares can be cut from it. But if you pastry goes wonky, just roll to 3mm deep before cutting squares and then re-roll to allow more squares to be cut
  • It's best to divide the filling across all squares before beginning to seal any of them. Doing so means that you can ensure each cake gets a good amount of filling and none is leftover
  • Seal one square at a time to avoid the egg drying out/ turning the pastry soggy
  • When sealing the pastry if some of the filling falls out just push it back in and continue to seal, leaving no gaps
  • Once sealed and shaped, Chorley cakes do need to be rolled/ pressed (either with a rolling pin or the flat of a hand) until the dried fruit becomes visible. Make 2-3 light rolls/ presses across the entire of the cake, rotating slightly between each roll/ press to help keep a circular shape to the pastries. It's best to proceed lightly with several rolls rather than taking a heavy-handed approach with will lead to misshapen cakes
  • It's best to reheat Chorley cakes in the oven (150C/300F/ GM2) for 5 minutes. Avoid reheating in a microwave as doing so will turn the pastry soggy
  • The baking powder helps achieve a wonderfully tender pastry, noticeably different from normal shortcrust pastry. Though it's not a typical pastry ingredient, include it if you can

Serving Suggestion

Chorley cakes are best eaten fresh and within 48 hours. Try serving them just warm with a knob of butter on the top. They can be reheated in a warm oven (150C/ 300F/ GM 2) for 5 minutes. 

Freezing Instructions

Chorley cakes can be frozen either before or after they have been baked.

To freeze before baking, prepare fully, up to, and including, the point of adding the egg wash. Open freeze the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment and when solid, slide into a freezer container or bag, label and keep frozen for up to 2 months. Bake from frozen: lay them onto a lined baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes at the temperature specified in the recipe card below.

If already cooked, let cool completely and freeze as soon as possible. Let defrost fully, then reheat for 5-10 minutes to re-crisp the pastry.

Nutrition

Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 301mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 487IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg