Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christmas Mince Pies

While I’m on the subject of all things Christmassey, I thought I’d share my recipe for the fruit mincemeat filling for mince pies. I don’t know if they are traditional Christmas fare in the US, but in the UK by now the shops will be brimming with packets of ready-made mince pies. Towers of packets will loom at the end of supermarket aisles, extra special gourmet ones will be found in up-market stores promising real brandy in the ingredients. Next week one of the Sunday papers is likely to do a comparative tasting of popular brands and award them star ratings for flavour and pastry texture and tastiness. South Africa is more moderate in its mince pie consumption, probably because of the hot weather at this time of year, but they still make a regular appearence in the Christmas displays. Our family is fairly immoderate in our mince pie consumption. One batch disappears in the briefest of nanoseconds. I make twice the amount of fruit mince in this recipe and we use it all over the festive season.

I always used to make my own pastry and fill the pies with bought mincemeat, until I found this recipe which is 100 times better. I leave out the traditional suet binder/preservative, so my version is genuinely vegetarian and has a fresher flavour. It keeps perfectly well in the fridge for a couple of months too. This recipe makes enough for several batches of mince pies. If you just want to try making one batch, use half quantities.

Christmas Fruit Mincemeat Recipe

350g/12oz raisins
225g/8oz sultanas
225g/8oz currants
225g/8oz mixed candied peel, chopped finely
450g/1lb cooking apples
350g/12oz soft dark brown sugar
grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
50g/2oz almonds chopped into slivers (optional)
4 teaspoons mixed spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ nutmeg grated
6 tablespoons brandy

Mix together all the dried fruit, add the peel and juice of the oranges and lemons. Peel the apples and grate them coarsely into the mixture, turning them into the juice so they don’t go brown. Add the sugar and spices and mix everthing well. Cover the bowl and leave to soak in the fridge overnight. Stir in the brandy, then spoon into clean jars, packing it in quite tightly. Leave in the fridge for another week for the flavours to develop if you have time.


Making the Mince Pies

I’m not the world’s best pastry maker, and my sister-in-law is, so she usually does the making of the pies in our family. You can resort to bought pastry or use your favourite shortcrust pastry recipe. Flaky pastry isn’t traditional but could work too. You’ll need a tart tin that takes twelve 6cm/2 1/2 inch tarts – not the deep muffin tins, the shallower sort.

Once the pastry is rolled out to about 3mm/ 1/8 inch thick, use a 7.5cm/3 inch cutter to cut out the bottoms of the pies and a 6cm/ 2.5 inch cutter for the tops. Fluted ones are nice but if you don't have any you can also use glasses of a similar size. Grease the tins, and line them with the pastry bottoms, put in a teaspoonful of the fruit mince being careful not to overfill, then dampen the edges of the pastry with water and put on the lids. Lightly press around the edges to seal. Brush the tops with milk and using the point of a knife poke a small cross in the top to let out the steam. Bake at 200C/400F for 25-30 minutes until light golden brown.

Eat warm with cream or brandy butter or cold with a cup of tea.

8 comments:

  1. I adore mince pies, especially with tons of brandy butter. But I am the only one in my home who does, so we'll be sticking with the stollen cake and the lebkucken, which are all lovely, but for me not as richly redolent of Christmas as a lovely, crumbly, melty mince pie.

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  2. One time my New Zealand friend made me a mincemeat pie and I ate all of it by myself.

    Oink.

    It was delicious. And i gained weight and happiness!

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  3. I'll have to send you both some over the internet ether. Hope the flavour comes through!

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  4. Yum, I am going to try to make this for the holidays and I have a good recipe for brandied cream that might go good with this!

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  5. Thanks so much for posting this recipe! Mince pies are not known in the US but my Mum's British so of course we grew up with them and love them. Here in Mauritania, I tried to invent a recipe for mince, and it wasn't exactly an unqualified success although it was sort of interesting. I'll do much better this year. Of course can't get brandy :( here in a Muslim country, but oh well.

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  6. We have mince pies here...My Dad loves them! His mother ( my grandmother) was English ancestory and made them and he grew up eating them. I will make this just for him for Christmas! I will eat this also! Looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing this...btw I posted the cookie recipe and a strawberry jam omelte souffle you might enjoy.

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  7. Kit,
    What do you think is in mixed spice? Is it like what in America we call allspice? Either way I don't have it and can't get it here. Any ideas for a substitution? Cinnamon, cloves, etc. Let me know.
    Thanks, EDJ

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  8. hey thanks for the recipe, i've been searching for a good fruit mince recipe because my family loves them!

    Hey edj, mixed spice is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Allspice is an individual spice, and was appropriately named due to its flavour being similar to numerous spices. :)

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Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!