Monday, 16 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 1: Mince Pies

My 12 Days of Christmas Baking challenge has commenced, starting with mince pies! Admittedly, I cheated a little with this - my mum made the mincemeat a week or two ago, and I made the pastry a few days ago. However, that made it super quick to put together and bake, so I would definitely recommend making everything in advance.

I used an assortment of cutters to top the pies, including stars, hearts, circles, mini gingerbread men and flowers. I think it's always nice to have a bit of variety rather than a load of identical pies!

These taste amazing, especially when they're fresh out of the oven... 10/10 would recommend - perfect for eating in front of your computer screen on a cold December day! I don't know why these are confined to the Christmas season, I think we should eat them all year round. Then again, there's probably some cultural reasoning behind that... I'll google it after I've posted this!

If you really want to cheat with these, you could buy the mincemeat and the pastry. You could even buy the mince pies themselves. But where's the fun in that?!

Recipe - the pastry makes enough for around 16 mince pies with tops but the mincemeat makes enough for a mincemeat party (you will end up with enough mincemeat to last you for at least a year, depending on how often you eat mincemeat):

Mincemeat (adapted from Delia's Christmas Mincemeat recipe)
  • 350g Bramley apples, cored & chopped
  • 225g/1 pack shredded suet (we use vegetarian)
  • 350g raisins
  • 225g currants
  • 225g sultanas
  • 225g candied peel, finely chopped
  • 100g dried sour cherries
  • 150g glace cherries, chopped
  • 350g soft dark brown sugar
  • zest & juice of 2 oranges
  • zest & juice of 2 lemons
  • 50g slivered almonds
  • 1/2-1tsp mixed ground spice
  • 6+ tbsp brandy
  • Generous grating of nutmeg
  1. Combine all ingredients, except brandy, in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Cover the bowl & leave overnight/for 12 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 120oC, cover the bowl with foil, leave in oven for 3 hours.
  4. Take it out of the oven and stir it occasionally while it cools.
  5. When it is cold, stir in the brandy. 
  6. Store how you wish - we kept ours in the fridge in bowls for a couple of weeks before using, but you could put them in jars and leave in a cupboard.
Sweet shortcrust pastry:
  • 240g plain flour
  • 120g butter
  • 2 generous tbsp icing sugar, sifter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Very cold water
  1. Rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar.
  2. Mix in the egg yolks, adding some water if necessary, until the pastry comes together.
  3. Chill for a few hours at the least.
Mince Pies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190oC.
  2. Roll out the pastry to a decent thickness - thick enough to handle, thin enough to cook.
  3. Use a circular cookie cutter to cut circles from the pastry, and place them in a shallow pie/yorkshire pudding tray.
  4. Heap a generous teaspoon of mincemeat into the middle of each pastry circle.
  5. Use cookie cutters to cut tops for your pies and place them on top of the mincemeat.
  6. Cook for 18-20 minutes.