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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
I’ve been thinking about and feeling frustrated over the way people are valued only by the money they make not their true intrinsic value again this week. But also aware that I’m incredibly privileged to have the time and energy for philosophical thinking.
Parenting struggles have included how to get your child to calm down and go to bed when they are completely full of sugar from the strangest celebration invented yet, Halloween. Which seems to have developed from celebration of spooky scary things to community spirit and neighbourliness with a sugar focus. As much as I suspect the amount of money confectionary producers are making may have something to do with the growth in popularity I still really enjoyed meeting so many neighbours.
We had fun making our pumpkin lanterns but as always I needed to do something with the pumpkin insides so they weren’t wasted. Turns out there’s so much you can do. Curry for dinner, roasted seeds to snack on, syrup for making my own pumpkin spice latte. Last but definitely not least these really yummy cookies.
Oat, flour and spices in one bowl and melted butter, pumpkin puree and maple syrup mixed in another. Then combine the two bowls with each other and add the chocolate chips. Spoon onto a lined baking tray and bake in a medium oven 10-15 minutes.
They’re still a little soft when they come out the oven but a pretty good consistency once cooled and really delicious. A tiny bit cakey so the search for the perfect healthy cookie continues but if I have more pumpkin to use up again I’d happily make more of these too.
It’s that point in the holiday when parents feel like it’s been going on forever and wonder if we’ve had too much fun and kids realise there’s very little time left before school starts and they need to squeeze in as much fun as possible. Also, the moment when the dreaded feeling we have to go on the school shoe shop occurs and everyone wonders if last year’s shoes will be ok still (they never are).
In our house, we’re facing the last year of school for the first time and the first year of school for the last time. Conversations are on how to keep motivated to study when the long term gain feels far away and there are other things that are much more fun to fill your time with. Lots of reassurance that friends will be made and fun will be had is required.
Everyone wants to know what I will do once I have no more preschoolers at home. The short term answer is “have a nap”. Then after that organise a conference. But in the long term, I don’t know. If I start to think too much I have to start managing anxiety. Which of course is wasted energy that’s not going to help with anything right now while I can’t do anything solid about it. So I’m learning (always learning) to focus on today, what I’m doing right now and stay present because when the time comes I will find the right path. For this time of parenting, I need to be focused not distracted with possible futures.
I had some pears that weren’t being eaten fast enough so I looked for something to bake with some of them and decided to try out pear and honey flapjacks.
These have sugar in as well as the honey so I thought they might be a bit more indulgent. Turns out I’m so used to low sugar flapjacks now that I found them a bit sweet but the main issue for me was they use the same amount of nuts as oats which seems to be where they fall apart (literally) and I found them too chewy. The other member of the taste team to try them so far loved all the nuts though so I guess that’s more of a taste thing.
Grating the pear was a bit of a faff but other than that it’s a pretty simple recipe.
I made the mistake of thinking they weren’t completely done at the end of the first 30 minutes and then getting a little distracted during the extra 5 minutes so they turned into an extra 10 minutes. Which is why there are a few ‘caramelised’ nuts, but overall they weren’t overdone anyway.
School holidays week 4 the constant struggle between having had enough holiday fun and feeling guilty for not taking the kids out constantly. My four-year-old is also struggling to sleep through the night again (combination of having been ill with a nasty cold and feeling unsettled due to transition to school -can’t decide if knowing why is helpful or irrelevant when failing to do anything I want to because if over tired brain fog.)
But today was a little better we baked, well mostly I baked and there was a last minute trip to the park and definitely less crying than the previous few days.
Another take on my flapjack recipe:
5 Tablespoons Date Puree (Made mine by chopping dates, soaking in water overnight and then whizzing up in the blender).
1 Tablespoon Honey
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
Remove from heat and mix in 150-175g Oats
Bake 20 minutes at gas mark 6 in a greased and lined tin.
Feed to your family as ‘just normal flapjack’ with no banana or apple. Have them all love it and never know about the dates unless they read your blog.
It was a little crumbly possibly due to a few too many oats – or not quite sugary enough but tastes great so not a problem really.
Had a couple of left over bananas for the first time in ages. They went into the usual Mary Berry Banana Loaf.
Brilliant simple all in one recipe including yoghurt as well as banana. Too much sugar to be properly healthy but still not too unhealthy and really yummy.
Turned out beautifully.
So far mostly enjoyed by the now much less fussy ‘fussy eater’ and I once we got through the confusion as to whether it was naan as bread or banana bread. Not bothered we can’t convince the anti-banana brigade to try any as it means more for us.
It’s week three of the holidays. Things keeping me sort of sane through the repetition of the same argument a million times:
My lovely friends who reassure me it’s just the same in their houses and provide solidarity in the trenches.
The mantra my lovely mum passed down which got her through our childhood (although obviously, she can’t have needed it much as we were all angels). “It’s not me it’s them”.
A lot of chocolate.
I’ve also just had a health check due to my ancient age at which I discovered I am simultaneously ‘obese’, have slightly raised (from ‘ideal’ not average) cholesterol and am at very low risk of developing heart disease. Which is good motivation to keep up with finding ways to eat more healthy food (or at least a bit less chocolate).
I think this might be the most healthy version of my flapjack recipe so far.
50g coconut oil
4 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Molasses
50g cacao powder
Remove from heat and mix in:
Into a lined pan sprinkle over 50g cacao nibs and bake in a preheated oven gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.
Cool and cut into squares.
Tastes less chocolatey than previous versions but still yummy. These are probably not sweet enough for you if you’re used to eating ‘normal’ amounts of sugar but for those who have already cut down, they’re sweet enough.
Taste team accused them of having funny rubbery bits on the top!
It’s been a very busy week of fun family days out and cleaning the house.
Continuing the theme of can I make that with sourdough this weekend we had brioche.
Not sure if it’s just that I’m getting better at reading the complicated recipes but enjoying this blog I found this recipe on as it does seem to be mostly written in plain English.
Having read around I decided to use the mixer as the dough is quite sticky and needs a lot of mixing. After the first rise, the butter has to be massaged in. This bit was pretty sticky and hard work. One of the taste team spotted the bowl of butter waiting to go in and remarked wow that’s a lot of butter! He was right, it’s not a healthy recipe it’s a yummy one though and it is the holidays.
The dough was more workable after a second rise but still quite sticky.
Having made two trays of small brioche and still having dough left I thought I’d try a bigger loaf too in the loaf tin.
The small brioche spread more than I wanted them to but they all looked good. The taste team loved them, although they did remark they aren’t quite like the brioche we buy from the supermarket. Personally, I thought they were tastier!
Getting more practised with the regular sourdough bread and although still have a way to go before reaching loaf perfection feel it’s going well enough to give me the confidence to try new things. The summer holidays are rapidly approaching here. Mixed emotions because although there are lots of fun things about holidays and of course less having to get up early and go out on time there’s so many lasts and firsts and children growing up. Plus it’s not always fun in the house with everyone here, sometimes it’s just more people to row with each other.
I’m looking for more interesting and fun things to pack for picnics so suggestions very welcome.
The first type of fancy bread I’ve made with sourdough is focaccia.
This recipe was a joy to use for the simple fact unlike many sourdough recipes it’s really easy to read and follow.
The biggest difference obviously between this and other sourdough bread recipes is this has a lot more ingredients. There are honey and olive oil in the sponge and even more olive oil in the main dough mix. The dough wasn’t as wet as other sourdough recipes I’ve used, maybe my starter was less liquid and or using a cup measure rather than scales for the flour made that difference.
It was really lovely to knead.
And easy to press out into the pans. It rose well and pretty quickly, it’s warm here at the moment so that was expected I guess.
Looked pretty good before and after baking or is that cooking? The cheese and onion one was definitely suitable for a meal. But took a little less time to be well done than the recipe expected, warm weather and an especially effective oven probably caused that.