Mince pies are without doubt one of my favourite things to make in the run up to Christmas - up until the big day I can't get enough of them. This year in particular I've been on a huge mince pie baking spree, helped largely by my new discovery - freezing them! It sounds obvious but it's just not something I've ever really done before. I am truly converted though - mince pies are undoubtably at their best fresh out of the oven and by freezing them you can keep a constant supply on hand ready for baking.
There are, I've discovered, two options when it comes to freezing. Firstly you can cook your mince pies and then freeze them once cooled. This is fine but when you come to eat them you need to defrost them for several hours before reheating them in the oven. Not good for those urgent mince pie cravings. The second option has proved to be much more successful. Simply make up your pies in their tins and freeze them as they are. Once solid they can be removed from the tin and stored in the freezer in plastic bags. When you fancy one (or two...or three...) just remove from the freezer, return to the tin and bake as normal for 15-20 minutes. You can have a warm mince pie in your paw in under an hour - it's all good.
I have also had great success with a new recipe for pastry that I came across recently on the blog Jam and Clotted Cream. The recipe is as follows but please do check out this blog as you'll find loads of great ideas on there.
200g plain flour
75g ground almonds
40g caster sugar
125g butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
Milk or beaten egg to glaze
Approx 350g mincemeat
1) Put the flour, ground almonds, sugar and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2) Add the egg slowly (you may not need all of it - any spare can be used to glaze the tops of the pies) and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. Then tip out onto the work surface and knead together briefly until you have a smooth ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3) If cooking straightaway preheat the oven to 200c.
4) Roll out the pastry and cut out circles slightly bigger that the bun tin holes and press lightly into the tin. You can then cut out slightly smaller circles or stars for the tops of the pies. Fill the pies with mincemeat before placing the tops on.
5) If freezing put the tin in the freezer until the pies are solid then pop them out of the tins and into freezer bags.
6) When you're ready to cook the pies brush the tops with a little milk or beaten egg and, if you like, sprinkle with a little caster sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pies are just turning golden. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out on to wire racks.