1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
25g butter
60ml dessert wine (or orange juice)
200g figs (I use Tasti Ready To Eat Figs)
⅓ cup mixed peel
⅓ cup (loose) brown sugar
½ teaspoon mixed spice
500g flaky pastry (I use Paneton brand ready-rolled sheets)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons demerara sugar (optional)
hard cheese (I use Whitestone Five Forks), to serve
cream or ice cream, to serve
250ml dessert wine
¼ cup sugar
8 figs

Poaching figs in dessert wine is a good way to use varieties of figs that aren’t the best eating. Any figs can be used, but if you have tasty ones there’s no need to poach them first, just serve them fresh. The poaching syrup isn’t very sweet as the Eccles cakes are sweet, but you can up the sugar quantity if you have quite sour fruit.


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2.Put the fennel seeds in a small frying pan and toast over a medium heat for about 1 minute until smelling fragrant.
3.Grind to a powder with the salt and set aside.
4.Put the butter and dessert wine in a large saucepan and bring to the boil to melt the butter.
5.Cut off the hard stem end from the figs and discard, then chop the figs finely.
6.Add to the butter along with the mixed peel, brown sugar, mixed spice and fennel seed mix and stir well.
7.Set aside to cool while you prepare the pastry.
8.Roll out the pastry, if necessary, to 3mm thick and cut out 8 rounds with an 11-12cm cutter.
9.Place a heaped tablespoon of filling in the centre of each round, brush around the outer edge with a little water, then gather the pastry around the filling and squeeze it together.
10.Place seam-side down on a lined baking tray and flatten with the palm of your hand to an oval, until you can just see the fruit starting to poke through.
11.You can refrigerate at this point if you want to serve them fresh from the oven.
12.To bake, heat the oven to 210°C.
13.Cut two little slits in each cake, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little demerara sugar if using (it gives them a lovely crunch).
14.Bake for 12 minutes until deep, golden brown and bubbling.
15.Serve with poached figs or other fruit such as apple, pear or persimmon and a wedge of cheese or cream or ice cream.
17.Put the dessert wine, sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
18.Add the figs and poach for 10 minutes or until soft.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles