8 December 2012

Making the Mince Pies...

It wouldn't be Christmas without mince pies would it? Every year, we reach for the faded print contained in my Mother's old Cordon Bleu folder, and get a big bowl of mincemeat made. It sits there all through December, lasting us through several batches of mince pies, not to mention numerous stolen spoonfuls of bliss when I think nobody is watching....

The mincemeat will last for weeks, improving and maturing over time.

  •  225g (8 oz) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 225g (8 oz) raisins
  • 225g (8 oz) currants
  • 115g (4 oz) sultanas
  • 170g (6 oz) green grapes, peeled and quatered
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 170g (6 oz) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 40g (1.5 oz) butter, melted
  • 1 small glass of sherry, brandy or other liqueur

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and keep covered with clingfilm in a cool place until needed.

Mince Pies (using sweet shortcrust pastry)
  • 255g (9 oz) plain flour
  • 115g (4 oz) cold butter or lard if you're feeling really traditional
  • 1 egg
  • 1 dstsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Mincemeat
Using you fingertips, rub the flour and butter together (You can use a food processor or mixer, but it is really easy to overwork the gluten in the flour, so make sure that you use a pulse setting). Shake the bowl at intervals to bring any lumps of butter to the surface. Keep rubbing until the mixture iresembles breadcrumbs.
 Tip: If you have time beforehand, chill the butter in the freezer and grate it to make rubbing in the butter easier.

In a separate jug, whisk the egg and add in sugar and water. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and gradually pour in the egg mix and mix using a palette knife. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Grease a 12 hole bun tin and flour a surface and rolling pin. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, 190'C.
Roll out the pastry, turning it a quarter to stop it from sticking to the surface. Use two different sized pastry cutters for the pastry and cut out enough to make cases and lids for each pie. Fill each with a teaspoon of mincemeat and top with one of the smaller pastry disks. Glaze with a little milk and pierce the top of each pie.
Bake for around 12-15 minutes, until golden and puffy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a rack, and dust with icing sugar before storing or serving.

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