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A flat, oval cake of flaky pastry filled with dried currants - so rather similar to an Eccles cake. They are named after the town in Oxfordshire, with which they have been associated since the 17th century.
At some point in history the recipe for these caked changed from its original yeast-risen cake, sounding rather similar to a 'Scottish black bun' to the one we know today. But they were described as the former in 1615 and as a half-way point in book 'The Cook's Oracle' by Dr, Kitchener in 1822 - he mentions a puff pastry covering, but retains the original yeast dough to hold the fruit in the filling.
Lisa Acton's 'Modern Cookery, published in 1845, replaces the yeast centre with a choice of crushed ratafias or macaroons, and suet was added to make a kind of mincemeat. For a modern recipe see our Recipe Section