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Mince Pies

By the time Christmas has been and gone I’ve worked out I will have made over 450 mince pies in some form or another. Thankfully not for my own consumption but made during the classes I was teaching and for friends and family. I usually make my own mincemeat, but this year due to some of my pupils being unable to come to classes due to illness I was left with nearly a kilogram of mincemeat to use up. To make shop bought mincemeat taste more like homemade mincemeat simply stir in a generous glug of sherry into the mincemeat. No one has to know.

I like using this pastry recipe for mince pies as the addition of orange juice helps shorten the pastry and give it a subtle taste. I don’t sweeten the pastry with sugar because I think the mincemeat is sweet enough. If you wanted the pastry a bit sweeter you could add a small amount of icing sugar to the pastry.

You can top your mince pies with the traditional full covering of pastry, but I prefer to cover with stars. 1) because I think they look nicer 2) you get more mince pies out of your pastry.

Mince Pies

Makes around 12 mince pies

200g plain flour

100g butter

orange juice

200g mincemeat

1 egg, beaten

Demerara sugar (granulated sugar will also work fine)

1) rub the butter into the flour until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.

2) Add the orange juice 1 tbsp at a time until it forms a soft dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 min.

3) Roll out the dough until 5mm thick. Using a 9cm diameter cutter, cut out rounds and press gently into a bun tin.

4) Place a heaped tsp of the mincemeat on top of the dough

5) Top the mincemeat with a  pastry star. Brush  the star with beaten egg then sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

6) Bake at 180° for 15 minutes.

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Mini Eccles mince pies

I first saw these mini Eccles mince pies in GFM a few months back. I love Eccles cakes and knew this version would be perfect to take into work for the last few days of term. Like most of my Christmas baking the gold lustre made an appearance.

For pudding later on Hubby and I are going to “taste test” a few of the pies with some Brandy Butter ice cream from a local producer, Needwood Ice Creams. We’ve had ice cream from Needwood before and it is delicious, even better than Ben & Jerrys!

Mini Eccles mince pies
Makes 30

2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry
500g suet-free mincemeat
1 egg white, lightly beaten
golden caster sugar
gold lustre

1) Preheat oven to 200oc. Lay out pastry on a lightly floured surface. Using a 9cm round biscuit cutter cut rounds out of the pastry.

2) Place a tsp of mincemeat in the middle of the circle. Brush around the edges with egg white, then gather the edges until the mincemeat is completely encased (I became a pro at this by the end!).

3) Place on the lined baking tray, so the sealed edges are underneath. Squish slightly.

4) Brush pies with egg white. Mix sugar with some gold lustre then sprinkle over the pies. With a knife cut 2 small slits. Bake for 15 min, until golden.

Suet-free mincemeat

It’s official, I now feel Christmassy. First thing this morning we were in Derby for Hubby to do an exam so I took the opportunity to visit the huge new shopping center there and found a fab cook shop, so naturally had to buy a new sieve and silicon pastry brush. I could have spent a great deal more if Christmas wasn’t just around the corner. The Salvation Army band were playing Christmas songs which gave a great festive air.

On the way home we picked up our Christmas tree…which strangely smells of Gin & Tonic (not that I’m complaining!) and decorated it while drinking mulled wine.

Then this evening, at our local National Trust park, they had an illuminated Christmas tree trail. During the day families had decorated various trees with decorations made from recycled products (e.g. CD’s, plastic bottles) then as night fell candles were lit everywhere. It looked beautiful. I didn’t take my camera as usually photography isn’t allowed, but I noticed loads of people were taking pics so I might go back with my camera Sunday night.

Today I eventually got around to make my mincemeat ready for the marathon Christmas baking fest on Sunday. I don’t know why, but I’m funny about suet in mincemeat so I was really happy when I came across this recipe in Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess a few years back. The only alteration I made was to add cranberries.

Hettie Potter’s suet-free mincemeat
Makes about 2kg

250g soft dark sugar
250ml medium dry cider
1 kg cooking apples, peeled, halved and quartered
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
250g currants
250g raisins
250g cranberries
75g glace cherries, roughly chopped
75g blanched almonds,
finely chopped rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
6 tbsp brandy or rum

In large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the cider over a gentle heat. Add the roughly chopped apples to the saucepan. Add all the ingredients, apart from brandy/rum and simmer for around 30 min until everything has a pulpy consistency. Take off the heat and when it has cooled slightly stir in brandy/rum.

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