Mince pies are a big part of our family tradition. It isn’t Christmas if we don’t have a mince pie and a glass of sherry ready for Santa. You can either follow my recipe for homemade mincemeat or use shop bought. This mincemeat can be made well in advance, which is perfect for our Christmas Eve tradition of making mince pies and cuddling up to watch It’s A Wonderful Life. But why wait for Christmas!
Bought mincemeat is fine, but this easy recipe makes your home smell like Christmas and tastes divine. The joy of this recipe is it can be easily adjusted to suit personal taste.
8 oz (225g) Bramley (cooking) apples, cored and chopped
4 oz (110g) shredded suet
6 oz (175g) raisins
4 oz (110g) sultanas
4 oz (110g) currants
2 oz (50g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
2 oz (50g) dried cranberries
6 oz (175g) soft dark brown sugar
Grated zest and juice 1 orange
Grated zest of half a lemon and the juice of 1 lemon
2 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
1/4 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons brandy
You will also need 3 x 1lb (350ml) preserving jars and 3 waxed discs.
Thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together, except for the brandy, in a large ovenproof mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to develop.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (120°C). Loosely cover the bowl with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours. The melting of suet in this recipe helps to prevent fruit fermentation and aids preserving. When you remove the bowl don't worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look swimming in fat because of the suet. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time.
When the mincemeat is cold, stir again and add the brandy. Put mixture into jars that have been sterilised. When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for a long time in a cool, dark cupboard, but is best eaten within a year.
200g (1.6 cup) plain flour/all purpose
A pinch of salt
100g (0.44 cup) butter
1 tablespoons of orange juice
2 tablespoons of water
Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour. Keep raising your hands and dropping the crumbs to add air. Rub until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and the butter is well combined. Sprinkle the cold orange juice into the bowl and mix through with a knife. Use your fingers to bring the pastry together. Add enough water to form the mixture into a ball. Be careful not to make the dough sticky. Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C/400F/Gas 6.
Lightly grease your patty tins with a small amount of vegetable oil, or butter.
Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out the pastry as thinly as possible. Cut out approximately 12 rounds with a large pastry cutter for the base. Use a smaller cutter to cut out 12 lids. Line your tin with the bases.
Lightly prick the pie bases with a fork to stop them rising. Fill each case with your mincemeat mixture until two-thirds full. Don't overfill or the mixture will leak through the pastry when cooking.
Brush the pie edges with a little milk. Cover the mincemeat over with the pastry lids. Pinch the pie edges together to seal. Brush over with egg wash or milk.
Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 1 minute before placing on a wire rack to cool.
Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar and eat warm or cold.
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About Tracey Rogers
A devourer of books from an early age, I spent much of my childhood stepping into wardrobes, searching for that magical snowy world where conversing with animals would be expected. When I wasn't searching for those worlds, I wrote about them instead. My first step into the world of romance was when I stole sneak peeks into my nana's books. I'm still in that world and refuse to leave.
I live in Staffordshire, UK, with my husband and three wonderful children. An avid reader and writer of romance, I strongly believe that words make the world go around.
You can find me here: www.traceyrogers.wordpress.com
Or on twitter: www.twitter.com/TraceRbookworm