Scottish Ecclefechan Tart Recipe

A traditional Eccelefechan Tart is a delightful mixture of sugar, dried fruit, and butter inside of a sweet shortcrust pastry tart. It can be made as one large tart or as individual tarts, similar to Christmas mince pies.

Ecclefechan Tart Recipe - stacked on a plate

If the delightful Ecclefechan Tart were in a guidebook, it would be listed as a must-visit Scottish hidden gem.

But, unfortunately, these delicious tarts have remained under the radar for many outside of Scotland. We think they deserve as much fame as the country’s other more well-known desserts like Cranachan and Tipsy Laird.

Why Make Ecclefechan Tarts?

We accidentally discovered the Ecclefechan Tart during a Hogmanay party, and what a discovery! They were served as delicious individual mini tarts, which we had more than our fair share of.

They’re a great option if you want to try something different from a Christmas mince pie, just like our Congress Tarts are. But let’s be honest, these are great all year round!

Our Eccelfechan Tart recipe recreates these small-portioned tarts, but we’ve also included what you need to do if you’d prefer to make one large tart instead. The choice is yours!

Is an Ecclefechan Tart Scottish?

Ecclefechan Tarts are very Scottish. The tart itself is named after and, we assume, began life in the small town of Ecclefechan, found in Dumfries and Galloway in the southwest of Scotland.

The town is close to the Border with England, where the so-called Border Tart is also from, so this is sometimes said to be a variation of that recipe.

We say so-called because it has been said that the Border Tart is a mispronunciation of butter tarts rather than a reference to the Scotland/England border itself.

However, the Border Tart is often iced with white icing and sometimes includes ground almonds, which greatly changes the filling.

Basically, no one can agree on that recipe, so we’re sticking to Ecclefechan Tarts for now and claiming it as it’s own thing!

How do you say Ecclefechan?

You pronounce Ecclefechan – eh·kuhl·feh·kn. 

Getting this right took us a wee while as it doesn’t roll off the tongue for non-Scots, and it certainly isn’t a word you can sound out as you were taught at school.

The ‘ch’ throws many people, as they tend to pronounce the h when it’s actually silent. When we first tried saying it, we sounded like we were describing a very rude Eccles cake! 

Ecclefechan Tart Recipe - on a plate with fork

What is an Ecclefechan Tart?

An Ecclefechan tart is a simple mixture of sugar, currants and butter. Some people, like us, now use dried fruits rather than currants. The latter is more traditional, so it depends on your own tastes.

Usually, there was some sort of acidity added to the fruit mixture, like vinegar or lemon juice, and spices are now often added too, although Eccelfechan Tarts are just as delicious without all the extras!

This tasty filling is surrounded by a sweet, short-crust pastry casing. The filling can be almost runny when served warm, but this stiffens slightly as the tart cools.

The flavour is sweet and striking, with subtle hints of caramel thanks to the sugar and butter. Some versions of the tart use more butter and sugar and less fruit, so they are lighter in colour. We prefer to load them up with fruit, but you can play with the ratio if you like.

For us, the Ecclefechan Tart is the perfect Christmas sweet treat but is probably more popular over Hogmanay (New Year celebrations) here in Scotland.

Why have I heard of Ecclefechan Tarts?

If you’re wondering why the name rings a bell, it may be thanks to the flap in 2007 when supermarket chain Sainsbury’s marketed the Ecclefechan Tart as an alternative to the mince pie.

We can see why they might say this, as we’ve even suggested it ourselves, but we’re not sure why they were so surprised by the backlash! Mince pie fans across the land were horrified they might be suggesting it as a replacement for their beloved Christmas treat… so let’s just say they make a lovely addition to the table!

Before this “scandal”, the Ecclefechan Tart hadn’t really been heard of outside of Scotland. With the support of VisitScotland, sales soared, despite people’s shock and horror at a challenge to a Christmas classic.

We say eat both and be merry.

Things you’ll need to makeEcclefechan Tarts?

  • 12-hole muffin/cupcake tin – we have this one
  • Large Bowl
  • Wooden Spoon for mixing
  • Food Processor**
  • Stand Mixer**
  • Electric Hand Whisk**
  • Approximately 8cm diameter cookie cutter, glass, etc.
  • 23cm Fluted Tart Tin*** – we use one like this

** These are all useful for making the pastry yourself as our recipe details but are not strictly necessary. You can use rice instead of baking beans, and your hands plus a fork, to bring everything together rather than a mixer. A wooden spoon also works fine instead of an electric hand whisk to mix the butter and sugar.

More detail in the recipe below! Making your own pastry takes a little longer but it’s worth it!

As a side note, we add sugar to our shortcrust pastry when making tarts to sweeten them a little, and the bought shortcrust pastry often doesn’t include sugar.

*** If you want to make one large tart instead of small individual tarts, then you’ll want a Fluted Tart Tin instead of the muffin/cupcake tin.

Ingredients for Eccelfechan Tarts

pastry

  • 275g plain flour (2 cups)
  • 125g unsalted butter (cold, cubed) (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tbsp cold water

filling for Individual Mini Tarts

  • 90g unsalted butter (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice
  • 80g raisins (1/2 cup)
  • 80g sultanas (1/2 cup)
  • 50g glace cherries (chopped) (1/3 cup)
Ecclefechan Tart Recipe - ingredients

OR Filling for one large Ecclefechan Tart

  • 135g unsalted butter (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 150g dark muscovado sugar (3/4 cup_
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 120g raisins (3/4 cup)
  • 120g sultanas (3/4 cup)
  • 75g glace cherries (chopped) (1/2 cup)

How to make Ecclefechan Tart – Step-by-Step Method

To make the pastry, first add the flour and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can also rub together the flour and butter with your hands if preferred (just make sure they’re cold).

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the sugar and whisk briefly by hand to combine.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the egg and 1 tbsp of the water. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on a slow speed until it just starts to come together into a dough. If the dough is still looking too dry and crumbly, add the second tablespoon of water. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can also use a fork to bring everything together.

Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Don’t handle it more than you need to here or you may overwork the dough.

Wrap the dough ball in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

For Individual Mini Tarts

Whilst the dough chills, prep the tart filling. Melt the butter and muscovado sugar together in the saucepan over a low-medium heat. Set this aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

Add all remaining filling ingredients to the pan and stir well to combine.

Preheat the oven to 180C. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Use a 7.5-8cm cookie cutter to cut circles from the dough and push them carefully into the holes of a cupcake tin.

Once you have lined all of the cupcake holes with pastry, prick the bases with a fork a couple of times, then spoon the filling mixture into each pastry case.

Bake for 20 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is turning golden around the edges.

Leave in the cupcake tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For One Ecclefechan Tart

After chilling the dough, follow these steps:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Lay it over a 23cm fluted tart tin then push it down into the base and sides with your hands so it closely lines the tin. Cut away any loose edges, but leaving an overhang of about an inch or so.

Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork, then place in the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry, then cover with baking beans.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through and starting to go golden around the edges.

Whilst the pastry is still hot, carefully slice away the excess pastry with a sharp knife so you have a nice flat edge. Leave the tart case to cool whilst you prep the filling.

Use the alternative measurements for filling one large tart. Melt the butter and muscovado sugar together in the saucepan over a low-medium heat. Set this aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

Add all remaining filling ingredients to the pan and stir well to combine.

Finally, fill the pastry case with fruit mixture and bake for 15 minutes at 180C.

What do you serve an Ecclefechan Tart with?

The Ecclefechan Tart is best served with cream or custard or they’re perfectly fine just on their own. You can serve them warm or cold. Try a little brandy butter if you have them over the festive period.

Ecclefechan Tart Recipe - served with cream

How do you store Ecclefechan Tarts?

Store your Ecclefechan Tarts in a cake tin or similar container, with a sheet of kitchen roll to help keep the pastry dry. They will last well for at least 3-4 days.

Can you Freeze Ecclefechan Tarts? 

You can freeze Ecclefechan Tarts, seal them in an air-tight container, and they will last up to 6 months. Remove from the freezer and allow to warm to room temperature on the kitchen bench.

Alternatively, you can warm them in the oven at 180 degrees for around 6-7 minutes or a few minutes longer if from frozen.

Ecclefechan Tart Recipe - top down photo of filling
Yield: 12-14 tarts

Scottish Ecclefechan Tart Recipe

Scottish Ecclefechan Tart Recipe

If the delightful Ecclefechan Tart was in a guidebook, it would be in listed as a must-visit Scottish hidden gem.

But, unfortunately, these delicious tarts have remained under the radar for many outside of Scotland.

An Ecclefechan tart is a simple mixture of sugar, nuts, currants and butter. This tasty filling is surrounded by a sweet, short pastry casing.

The filling can be almost runny when served warm, but this stiffens slightly as they cool. So it should always have a little wobble to it! 

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 275g plain flour (2 cups)
  • 125g unsalted butter (cold, cubed) (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tbsp cold water

For the Filling

  • 90g unsalted butter (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice
  • 80g raisins (1/2 cup)
  • 80g sultanas (1/2 cup)
  • 50g glace cherries (chopped) (1/3 cup)

Instructions

These instructions are for Mini Ecclefechan Tarts.

You can also make one large Ecclefechan tart. See notes for details.

  1. To make the pastry, first add the flour and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can also rub together the flour and butter with your hands if preferred (just make sure they’re cold).
  2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the sugar and whisk briefly by hand to combine.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the egg and 1 tbsp of the water. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on a slow speed until it just starts to come together into a dough. If the dough is still looking too dry and crumbly, add the second tablespoon of water. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can also use a fork to bring everything together.
  4. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Don’t handle it more than you need to here or you may overwork the dough.
  5. Wrap the dough ball in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  6. Whilst the dough chills, prep the tart filling. Melt the butter and muscovado sugar together in the saucepan over a low-medium heat. Set this aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add all remaining filling ingredients to the pan and stir well to combine.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180C. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Use a 7.5-8cm cookie cutter to cut circles from the dough and push them carefully into the holes of a cupcake tin.
  9. Once you have lined all of the cupcake holes with pastry, prick the bases with a fork a couple of times, then spoon the filling mixture into each pastry case.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is turning golden around the edges.
  11. Leave in the cupcake tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

To make one large Ecclefechan Tart rather than 12 mini ones make these few simple tweaks to the recipe.

After chilling the dough, follow these steps:

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Lay it over a 23cm fluted tart tin then push it down into the base and sides with your hands so it closely lines the tin. Cut away any loose edges, but leaving an overhang of about an inch or so.
  • Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork, then place in the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry, then cover with baking beans. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through and starting to go golden around the edges.
  • Whilst the pastry is still hot, carefully slice away the excess pastry with a sharp knife so you have a nice flat edge.
  • Leave the tart case to cool whilst you prep the filling.

Then use the following measurements to make the filling:

  • 135g unsalted butter (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 150g dark muscovado sugar (3/4 cup_
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 120g raisins (3/4 cup)
  • 120g sultanas (3/4 cup)
  • 75g glace cherries (chopped) (1/2 cup)

Finally, fill the pastry case with fruit mixture and bake for 15 minutes at 180C.

We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

Looking for more tart recipes? Try these!

Sonja and Phil x

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Ecclefechan Tart Recipe Pin

7 thoughts on “Scottish Ecclefechan Tart Recipe”

  1. I have a very old recipe for Ecclefechan Tart and in fact I lived there many years ago. There are no cherries in it, there are chopped walnuts and vinegar. Having tried a few recipes for this once long forgotten tart, I find the walnuts and vinegar version superior.

    Reply
  2. Question: The mixed spice, is that a standard spice mix y’all have over there? (I’m in the states.) Or is it understood to be whatever spices you like, in the specified amount?

    Reply
    • Ok, I did a bit of research and found it’s sort of standard mix? Does yours have black pepper in it? Do you make your own, or use a particular brand? Sorry to slam you with questions, it looks like the mixed spice is a bit like pumpkin pie spice here, but not quite the same, and I’m hoping to get my recipe for it to be as authentic as I can. Any help would be most appreciated!

      Reply
    • Hi Scotti, Sorry for the delay in responding. Here’s what we learned about mixed spice for you ” A mix of cinnamon, coriander, caraway, nutmeg, ground ginger and cloves. The majority of the mix should be made from cinnamon and coriander, and the remaining 10% should be made from the other spices.”

      Apparently, it’s not unlike the US Pumpkin Spice but not precisely the same.

      We don’t make our own as it is very common sand found in the local supermarket.

      Reply

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