I have been meaning to write about mince pies for a few weeks, in fact I started a video and then got too busy and have been under the weather recently – it’s that time of year!
Anyhow I thought I would share my mince pie recipe, as when done well these little Christmas treats are delicious, but as can so often be the case there are too many poor examples out there! I am not a fan of bought pies or mincemeat as I find them too heavy and sweet. The great thing about making your own mincemeat is that you can put in it exactly what you like and leave out the bits that you don’t!
I tend to prefer my mince pies on the lighter side so I like to add chopped apple or pear before cooking. Also, out here we cannot easily get suet, which is no bad thing as apart from long term preserving, I see no benefit from adding suet instead I replace with butter. Pop the butter in the freezer 20 minutes before using to get it super firm and grate into the mix. I like to use salted butter as it adds a delicious decadences. ?
I made about 2 medium sized kilner jars of mincemeat using the following ingredients, I let the fruit, spices and sugar macerate in the alcohol for a week before using. If you are running out of time 24 hours is fine.
50g prunes, chopped
50g dates, chopped
50g dried apricots, chopped
50g dried cranberries
50g mix of whole hazlenuts and almonds toasted and finely chopped
3 – 4 lemon and orange candied peel strips, chopped
10g candied ginger, chopped
1 heaped tsp each nutmeg, ginger and cinamon
2 – 3 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 clementine, juice and zest
3 – 4 tbsp Cointreau ( or whatever spirit/ fortified wine you like)
Mix the above thoroughly, adding more sweetness or spice as required. Then pop into sterilised jars, close tightly and leave in a cool, dark place for as long as possible.
When ready to make the pies, empty the mincemeat into a mixing bowl and add 1 small apple, peeled and finely chopped, 100g cold, grated butter and a slosh more of Cointreau (or orange juice if the kids are fans!) You might want to up the spices now as well. I often mix ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon into a shaker and add it with a sprinkling of icing sugar when serving that way the kids don’t have to have their pies too spicy which they generally don’t like I find.
Now make the pastry, of course you can buy bought pastry for speed and ease but much like the mincemeat I like to make my own so as to adapt the recipe.
200g plain flour
1 heaped tbsp rice flour
2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
150g slated butter, cut into cubes
1 fridge cold clementine, zest and juice
1. In a food processor add the flours, sugar, clementine zest and butter, and pulse.
2. Add the egg and continue to pulse.
3. Now add enough cold clementine juice to bind the pastry together.
4. Tip out onto a floured surface and lightly knead.
5. Pop into a bag and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC and butter your pie trays ready.
7. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, and cut to size pop the base into the buttered pans and fill with a heaped tsp of mincemeat. Be generous but not too generous as they will spill over and burn.
8. Gather up any scraps and re-roll and make the lids. Brush the remaining clementine juice onto the lids and sprinkle with castor sugar. Pop into the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes watching that they don’t burn.
The key to a perfect pastry is to not over handle it, try to get as many pies out of the first roll as you can as the more you re-roll the heavier the pastry becomes.
You can make a big batch and freeze or halve the pastry and make a dozen at a time.
Delicious with a chilled glass of Rivesaltes Ambres ???