Making Mince Pies

I’m not a huge fan of mince pies and I find shop bought pastry too dry and thick usually. My significant other, however, thinks maybe mince pies should be available all year so I buy them for him and I try to make him at least a couple of trays a year. These are so good I can eat a couple myself.

The recipe I cut out of a magazine many years ago. It’s from a time when my granny who since passed away gave me a magazine subscription as a gift. So it has lovely sentimental value too.

Ingredients:

200g Plain Flour
52g Ground Almonds
100g Butter
50g icing sugar
1 large egg yolk
3 tbsp milk
225g mincemeat
beaten egg (or egg white) to glaze

First, the flour and almonds are weighed and mixed together then the butter (cut into cubes to make it easier to work with) is added and rubbed in (which can be done with fingertips or one of these handy tools) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then the icing sugar is stirred in.

The egg yolk and milk are beaten together in a separate small bowl and then added to the dry ingredients and mixed with a round-bladed knife until it starts to come together in a ball, it might be necessary to bring the last bits together by hand, turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently. Wrap the dough ball in clingfilm and pop it in the oven for at least 30 minutes (if you leave it longer than an hour you might need to allow it to sit out for a short while before rolling it out).

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The cold pastry doesn’t need much if any extra flour to stop it sticking as you roll. Make sure you have a greased cake tray and your oven pre-heated to gas mark 5 / 190c. Cut approx 7cm rounds for the bases and 6cm rounds for the tops, keep rerolling until all the dough is used. The large rounds line the tins and are pricked with a fork.

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Spoon a little mincemeat into each pie and top with a smaller pastry round, use the beaten egg white to seal and then to brush over the top of each pie (this helps them brown nicely) cut a small hole in the top of each pie with a small knife or pair of scissors.

Bake 15-20 minutes (remove from oven when a nice overall brown colour). Sprinkle with icing sugar if you like and enjoy warm with cream or ice cream.

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MincePies

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Healthy(ish) Christmas Gingerbread

Gingerbread might be my favourite Christmas treat but it’s so full of sugar and butter I always feel guilty about how much I can eat. This is a healthier alternative but mine aren’t quite as healthy as the recipe because I’ve chosen to use brown sugar instead of stevia in the gingerbread and regular icing sugar for the icing.

The flour, cornflour, baking powder and spices (ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in mine today) are mixed together in one bowl. In the other bowl melted and cooled butter, egg and vanilla whisked together and then molasses and a little brown sugar mixed in.

 

Then the wet ingredients mixed into the dry, it needed hands to bring it together into a sticky dough. The dough is placed between two sheets of cling film and then goes in the fridge to firm up and become easier to handle.

 

The dough can then be rolled out still between the cling film which is a really handy trick for helping it not to stick to anything and making it really easy to place on the lined baking tray. 10 minutes in the oven and 5 minutes left on the tray before moving to the cooling rack seemed about perfect.

The icing was just icing sugar and water mixed to the right consistency. The plan was for a mix of red and green sprinkles but the kitchen assistant had a green sprinkle related disaster so it was mostly just red sprinkles.

 

Even without the icing the gingerbread was pretty good and didn’t really taste too ‘healthy’ it is less healthy with the icing but still significantly lower fat and sugar than the really decadent gingerbread recipe coming up later this month!

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Christmas Cake

Here’s a Christmas lesson, this post was written early and posted late because there are so many things that I’m always trying to do at this time of year. I need to learn to slow down and enjoy the time more.

It’s been an introspective year for me. I’ve thought of so many times in my life I’ like to go back to and tell myself to make different decisions or to make decisions for the right reasons not because of being scared or feeling that there was no choice. But time travel isn’t possible and I’m trying to learn to give myself the same care that I extend to others. To allow myself to know I made the best decisions I could at the time with the information I had. We can’t go back in time but we can go forward with all of the life experience and knowledge we have and make decisions for the right reasons in future.

As I write it’s December 1st and I’m waiting for my Christmas Cake to come out of the oven. It’s at least a month after it ‘should’ have been made and it’s made to a much more simple recipe than the usual recipe I use. But rather than having to try and convince myself it’s not happened that way because I’m never good enough or organised enough or have let anyone down I feel happy it’s done now. I decided to do other things up until now and I decided to make this recipe, not the other one. There really isn’t a sort of person who makes the perfect family recipe Christmas Cake and a sort of person who buys a cake there’s only the sort of person who does what they do with the time they have and deserves to be happy and proud of themselves.

As usual, Mary Berry can be relied on to provide a lovely simple recipe.

I made it a bit more special by soaking the fruit in a mix of sherry and brandy overnight before I started.

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My heirloom electric whisk from the 1980s finally gave up the ghost during the creation of cupcakes for the school Christmas Bizarre so I ended up making this using the food processor as I’ve become much too lazy to cream butter and sugar by hand.

Adding the flour and ground almonds and a little orange essence as we didn’t have almond and it seemed more suitable than peppermint which was the other alternative in the cupboard.

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Had to mix in the fruit by hand after draining off the excess alcohol (which I saved to pour on once the cake is cooked) maybe I should have used a slightly bigger mixing bowl because it was a bit tricky to hold such a full bowl while pouring mixture into the tin.

Once the cake was cooked and had plenty more alcohol poured over the top it is cooled and stored for a couple of weeks before it’s ready for the marzipan and icing.

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Christmas Cake