It's time to start stocking up your freezer and larder and laying down stores like squirrels do. In Britain Christmas cakes and puddings are traditionally made as early as October. They don't need to be kept in the fridge or freezer because they are so full of rich dried fruit and brandy. Mince pies however do need to be eaten within a few days or frozen. I only make them at Christmas and so today I had a dummy run to make sure I hadn't lost the knack. There are so many variations nowadays , using cranberries, walnuts, port, brandy. I used a simple traditional recipe to start with, homemade pastry but bought mincemeat.
Get your ingredients ready and put on some music. Take your time and think of offering them to your friends and family with a nice cup of tea or some spicy mulled wine.
First make the pastry;)
275 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
150 g butter, very cold
4-5 tbsps very cold water
When making shortcrust pastry everything must be cold, the butter, the bowl, your hands, the knife. You must work lightly but quickly.
Sieve the flour into a large bowl.
Add the salt and the butter cut into cubes. Rub the butter into the flour gently and quickly with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sometimes I do this with my eyes closed, it's so nice to feel the soft flour combining with the butter.
Sprinkle over the cold water and mix to bind using a knife. Knead lightly to form a ball.
Roll out onto a floured surface till about 3mm thick.
Use a glass to cut out round to line buttered and floured cupcake or patty tins.
Place a spoonful of mincemeat in each pastry case. Cover with another pastry round and if liked cut in festive shapes.
Seal the edges well.
Brush the tops with water and dredge with caster sugar. Make two small cuts in the top of each pie.
Bake the mince pies for 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees.
Leave to cool in the tin and then gently remove using a sharp knife to loosen the edges. Put on a wire rack to cool completely.
These mince pies can be frozen for up to three months.
Pack cooled mince pies in a suitable container for freezing. Separate layers with baking parchment so they don't stick together.
Reheat from frozen on a baking sheet at 180 for 10-12 minutes until warmed through.
|Tasting time, everyone said they were delicious,|