Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Sly cake is a traditional Yorkshire recipe that gets its name for appearing a boring pastry block on the outside, but slyly hiding a rich fruit filling within. I’ve spruced up this classic by make it into individual parcels, fitting for the season, and using filo pastry instead of short crust. I’ve also added another casing to the fruit, wrapping it in marzipan before masking it with the pastry. If that wasn’t enough, I also cook down the fruit with amaretto before adding flaked almonds, instead of the traditional hazelnuts. That way you get a crisp and plain looking parcel, hiding a gooey lining of marzipan, hiding a chewy and crunchy filling of rich almond-y fruit. Sly indeed.

Makes 4

100g dates 
4 tablespoons amaretto 
50g mixed fruit 
25g flaked almonds 
200g marzipan 
4 sheets of filo pastry 

Preheat oven to fan200/220c/7.
Cook the dates and amaretto on a gentle heat in a small saucepan until the dates soak up the amaretto and begin to break down. Add the mix fruit and cook for a further minute or so before taking off the heat and mixing in the almonds. The mixture should be really thick and almost solid. Pop in the fridge to cool. 

Roll out the marzipan until reasonably thin and divide into 2. Press the date mixture into 4 equal squares. Take a date box and place inside one of the halves of marzipan. Fold the marzipan round the mixture to encase it, flattening and trying to get it to a rectangular box as much as you can. Make sure the marzipan completely seals the fruit. Trim the spare marzipan from either edge of the box and re-roll this to make the third and forth cake. 

When you have 4 boxes prepare for the second wrapping. With the sheets, as when working with all filo pastry, you'll have to be quite quick. Melt a knob of butter ready to brush over the entire surface of the sheet. For one sly cake, fold the sheet length ways and inwards until a third of its size and you have a thin, tall rectangle (so the pastry is in 3 layers). Place the box at the bottom of the pastry, and then wrap it all way around, folding over from the bottom upwards. Treat the spare edges like you would a present, tucking inwards before pulling up the sides, and sealing with lots of butter. The edges will try and spring back and eventually will in the oven anyway but just push them into the box to stop them unravelling completely. Repeat until you have parcels. 

Transfer onto a baking tray, lined with greaseproof and bake for 8 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. 


This is one of my new favourite recipes, and I’ve tried to explain it the best I can and hopefully succeeded. I really need a TV show or something to show the technique of it, if any producers are reading, I’m up for it.

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