Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Are you feeling festive yet?  If you are not yet feeling festive may I suggest you quickly pour a glass of sherry and bake some of these mince pies.  You will be feeling suitably festive in no time at all.

Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices, and sometimes beef suet, beef, or venison. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat.  Many modern recipes contain beef suet, though vegetable shortening is sometimes used in its place. Variants of mincemeat are found in Australia, Canada, northern Europe, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Now you may wish to make your own mincemeat from scratch.  If you do, try this excellent and easy recipe.  If you don't have the time or inclination to make your own I suggest you take a little shortcut, just like I do!  

Step 1: Go to the shop and buy a jar of mincemeat
Step 2: Take about 200g of the mincemeat and add 1/2 an apple, grated finely.  Add a generous splash of brandy or rum.  Add a handful of golden raisins.  Zest half and orange into the mix too if you like. 
Step 3: Mix it all together.

I use this mincemeat every year and its flipping delicious!  

So now we can talk pastry.  You need a delicate, sweet pastry for mince pies and this recipe actually works in two ways as some of it will end us as the topping.  The ground almonds are what give a great taste and texture to the pastry;

  • 200g all purpose flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 140g cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  1. In a large, roomy bowl (rubbing in pastry is way easier in a large bowl), add the flour, ground almonds, sea salt and sugar.  
  2. Chop the cold butter into cubes and add to the bowl.  Start rubbing in the fat until you have a texture like wet sand.  
  3. Take out a quarter of the mix and place in another bowl.  With the remaining 3/4 add the egg yolk and using a butter knife start mixing the flour gentle.  Add cold water and keep mixing until it starts to come together.  With as little handing as possible, bring the dough into a ball, wrap with cling film and place in the fridge to chill.
  1. With your 1/4 of the flour, butter mix add 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar (dark brown sugar will do also) and 2 tablespoons of flaked almonds.  Fork the mixture together.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F / 200C
  2. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry thinly.  Cut out circles and place the circles into a bun tray.  Prick the bottom of each circle with a fork to keep the bottoms flat once they bake.
  3. Place a teaspoon of your mincemeat into each pastry case.  
  4. Place a teaspoon of crumble topping onto each mince pie.  At this stage I tend to freeze one tray and bake one.  To freeze simply place the tray into the freezer and once frozen you can remove them from the tray and place in a freezer bag.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and bake unfrozen for 12-15 minutes and 18-20 from frozen.  They are cooked when the pastry is wonderfully golden.
  6. Wait till they cool a little or the hot mincemeat will burn your tongue- I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have burnt myself on mince pies that are too hot.  I will perhaps learn my lesson one of these days.  

So get a batch in the oven and enjoy them warm from the oven, with a glass of sherry while you make your Christmas list- perfect!

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