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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Pizza

Parenting challenge this week -when the news is pretty scary how do you help your 13-year-old with a tendency to be anxious and an interest in current affairs not let it overwhelm them? I don’t know the answer, I’m working on not letting it overwhelm me and remembering that a loving gentle home environment and a safe space are the things I can control when I can’t control what’s out there. If anyone has the answer please let me know I’m always keen to learn.

In our little home bubble, we’ve had a lovely weekend. All three children worked together on a meal for father’s day without arguing which was a minor miracle. Friday we had pizza for tea. Making pizza is pretty easy and fun if you just use a bread mix for the base and let people choose their own toppings and don’t make the people who have very strong views on how much sauce a pizza should have share with each other.

The challenge comes when you’re trying to cut down on gluten. I’ve tried a gluten free scone pizza base, too dry for me and a commercially prepared gluten free pizza base, tasty but not so fun from a cooking point of view. So this week yeast and gluten free flour like this recipe.

There’s milk in it which I think could be substituted for a non-dairy alternative but I thought on the first go I’d not change too much. Making the yeast bubble was fun and looked cooler than the photo shows.

It wasn’t too sticky and formed a dough nicely but didn’t rise as well as I hoped. It did look more different than the photo shows. Think I need to do a food photography course next.

Rolling out was not too difficult but picking it up to put on the tray was practically impossible without it falling to pieces.img_20170616_173712.jpg

The one on the left I managed to get on the tray almost in one piece but the one on the left fell apart completely and ended up as a pile on the tray with the result it was a lot thicker.

They looked good once the topping was on and they had been baked.

The thinner pizza was pretty good just a little floury if it had been just a bit thinner it might have been just right. The thicker pizza was just too floury and I mostly just at the topping.

So the search for the perfect gluten free pizza continues.

In other news, while I was making pizza our new budding foody was making Mary Berry’s ‘Can’t go wrong chocolate cake’. Which was very yummy. It’s two layers in the recipe but he’s of the opinion that two cakes are better than one!

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Avocado Brownies

It’s been a couple of weeks where a lot has happened in the news and we’ve seen our country in shock and many families and communities in the pain of losing loved ones before their time and through the violence of others. It’s a time when it’s easy to feel a little lost looking at the pain and not seeing where the love could be. But the love is there to see if you look, the love is in the way people come together to care for each other in times of need and where a 13-year-old boy called Adam seriously hurt in a bombing can send a message to the world to say “don’t go forward in anger, love spreads”. When we lose people it hurts but it’s a good hurt because it only exists because we loved them and they loved us and it is (as the saying goes) better to love and lose than not to love at all.

So there is still love in the world and there is still chocolate so there must be hope.

Chocolate Brownies with secret vegetable ingredients. That must be healthy too right?

Not as healthy as it could be as I’ve picked regular sugar again but just focus on the secret vegetables.

They make the mix green so that’s fun!

But the cocoa powder turns it chocolatey -which is good or they wouldn’t be very secret anymore. There’s more of a cakey brownie than a fudgy one but very yummy and I couldn’t taste the avocado.

Then I subjected them to the ultimate taste test -a 13-year-old fussy eater. He ate two said they were yummy and then I confessed they have avocado in them and he still wanted a third. He even picked them over the commercial chocolate biscuit in his lunch box for school. They didn’t quite win the best Brownie ever competition but only because his aunty’s brownies are truly amazing.

 

 

Week Off , New Name, Brownies.

I changed the name of the blog. It’s still exactly the same blog with the same aims and ideas but now the name reflects that better and fits in with my website and facebook and all that.

I also didn’t bake or blog last week, it was sort of a positive decision and sort of completely inevitable as I was too ill. Have still an awful cough but feeling so much better in comparison.

I still have no car, that was an extra stress to an already stressful weekend at a funeral. As maybe is always the case we wished the person we were celebrating could have been at the funeral to see how much we all loved him. The four-year-old is still not convinced on the permanence of death, she wondered if her grandad might appear on the stage in the arts centre while we were having the funeral after party.

So without the car, we had to find entertainment in the house and local area. This week’s baking is a result and as a result was not as fun or positive as usual, some grumpiness occurred.

We wanted to have the best ever brownies so we used a recipe which made that claim.

It was high maintenance.

We didn’t have enough dark chocolate so we had to use a variety of chocolate colours. They melted easily though so that was good. Whisking the eggs took a while but made the mixture seem really light and fluffy looking.

The brownies looked amazing when they came out but after they cooled down they were still liquid so they went back in. After a second half hour at a slightly higher temperature, they are still mostly liquid. Not sure what’s gone wrong there.

The bits we have been able to try were super delicious though.

Tomorrow we try making almond milk…

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…and get the car back at last!

Valentine’s Special

I’m on the fence with Valentine’s day. It’s fun to give a card and gift and to receive one and to have a nice meal. But I agree in part with the people who hate valentine’s day because they feel they are being told to do these things by people who will make money out of it. I wish everything in life was free from commercial influence really, the way people are valued by their contribution to the economy makes me sad. I get annoyed though at being told if my relationship was as wonderful as random internet people’s I wouldn’t need a special day to remind me to write a card or buy a gift for my husband. As it happens we do buy each other gifts randomly sometimes too but we also sometimes get caught up with the day to day and fail to appreciate each other. I find it hard to believe that people who pontificate about how they don’t celebrate valentine’s day are always buying spontaneous gifts and writing spontaneous love poems but maybe I’m just a cynical bitter old person 😉

So the compromise somewhere in the middle of not celebrating commercialism but wanting to take the reminder to show my husband I really do appreciate him is where I try to find my joy. I love to make gifts for people because it’s my way of putting something of myself and therefore the feeling behind the gift into the package. This is especially true for valentine’s day. I think I’ve made something every year of the 20 we’ve been together although there may have been one or two somewhere in the madness of small children I’ve gone commercial.

Pretty simple this year just melted chocolate with sprinkles and m and m’s but very effective.

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Kitchen assistant enjoyed the melting process and found some mini cases so she kept going with her own project. It was very sticky.

Melted butter and marshmallows with crisped rice cereal mixed in. There’s a reason it’s normally done all in one pot. It’s very sticky.

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They look cool, she’s refusing to eat them because they are too sticky but everyone else likes them. Not healthy but very yummy and fun.