Thursday, 24 December 2009

Snow and mince pies

Just last week I was reading the latest post by Molly of Battered Splattered. Molly lives in Alaska and I love her posts as her adventures in the Alaskan wilderness always seem light years away from my life in Suffolk. Her post contained some lovely shots of the local snowy scenery. How marvellous, I thought, snow at this time of year. How lovely that must be! Well someone must have been paying attention because all of a sudden my world was transformed by the sudden arrival of some seriously Arctic conditions! And this isn't the British snow we're used to - a few flurries which quickly dissolve into muddy slush - no this is the real thing. And a week later it's still here, well some of it anyway. Will we have a white Christmas?

Anyway, the Christmas madness has well and truly set in, but I wanted to squeeze in at least one Christmassy recipe before the big day. So here, for the record, are my favourite recipes for mincemeat and mince pies.


900g/2lb bramley apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 oranges
1 lemon
500g bag of luxury mixed dried fruit
175g/6oz dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
100/4oz butter
300ml/1/2 pint dry cider
5 tbsp rum or brandy

1) Zest and juice the oranges and lemon and add to a large pan.

2) Add all of the other ingredients. Slowly bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

When the mincemeat is cooked it will be thick and pulpy. It will keep for up to one month in sterilised jars or 6 months in the freezer.

What follows is my preferred recipe for mince pie pastry. I know it is more common to use a simpler fat and flour combination but this one results in a shorter, sweeter pastry which I find much more appealing.

225g/8oz plain flour
140g/5oz butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of 1 orange
50g/2oz caster sugar
1 egg yolk

1) Put the flour, butter, orange zest and sugar into a food processor and whizz to form crumbs.

2) Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of cold water and pulse to form a dough.

The recipe now advises that you chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes but I'm not convinced about this as it results in a very solid dough that needs a fair bit of work to warm it up again. I'll leave you decide which option to take.

Either way, the dough can be rolled out as desired and filled with your mincemeat. A standard sized pie will cook in 12-15 minutes at 200c/gas 6.