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Mince Pie Recipe

Christmas Customs
 Traditional Christmas Mince Pies Recipe

By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com

 

Traditional Christmas Mince Pies Recipe

Here is a traditional mince pie recipe that I have used for many years and often bake through the seasons.  The pastry is quite short and requires careful handling and a little extra patience.  But, it is truly melt in the mouth.  It tastes far superior to regular short crust pastry.  There won't be any pastry lids found in the bin or left on tea plates, as every mouthful tastes so good.

Traditional Xmas Mince Pies

Traditional Christmas Mince Pie Recipe

N.B. This pastry is baked at 190C for 15 minutes approximately.  If your oven is inclined to be hot, then reduce the temperature to 180C.

It can be baked a little longer, but after 15 minutes or so can scorch rapidly, so needs careful watching by the minute, which with a glass oven door, is of course no problem.

I prefer to dust my mince pies with icing sugar on a wire rack, before they are put on the platter.  You may prefer to dust the plate too.  Fresh holly leaves for decoration can look very attractive too with a dusting of icing sugar.
 

Preheat oven to 190C, gas No. 5 or 375F

Pre butter 24 patty tins.  A similar muffin tray might be suitable as long as it was not too deep.   I use 2 half dozen patty trays and 1 full dozen patty tray.  This way you can freeze 2 half dozens (raw or cooked) and pop them in the oven quickly if someone calls in at short notice.   It is well worth buying spare tins just for mince pies for every Christmas.
 

 Ingredients - Almond Shortcrust Pastry

10 oz plain flour

6 oz butter

3 oz icing sugar

1 oz ground almonds

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons milk

The grated rind of a half a lemon - use the other half in the mincemeat mix.

Pastry Method by Hand

Before making the pastry sift the flour into a large bowl and cube the butter.  Separate the egg from the white and reserve the white for a topping variant.  In a cup, mix the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of the milk.

With your fingertips, rub the cubed butter into the sifted flour and ground almonds.  Make sure the butter is just up to room temperature so you won't have to overwork the pastry.  Add the icing sugar and grated lemon rind.  Mix lightly.

Now add the egg yolk with 2 tablespoon of the milk mixture to the flour mix and form into a dough.  If needed dribble on another 1 tablespoon of milk until you get a rough dough bind.  The gluten in all flours varies so you will need to judge your flour.  Much depends on the size of your egg yolk too.

Next turn the dough onto a floured work surface and just knead very lightly a few turns so it all joins together and the cracks disappear.   Turn the mixing bowl upside down to cover the pastry and leave for about 10 minutes whilst you jazz up the bought mincemeat.  This allows the pastry to rest.

Processor Method

I mostly make this delicate almond shortcrust by hand.  On occasion I do whiz the dry ingredients in a food processor then I tip the dry mixed contents into a large bowl and add the wet ingredients manually, binding first with a knife and then with my hand.  I find this works best for me rather than overworking the paste in the processor. 

Mincemeat Mix

For your Christmas mince pies, buy a 1lb pot of good quality mincemeat and add these extra ingredients below to reduce commercial sweetness.  This will easily put your mincemeat into the luxury category.  I use Robertson's Mincemeat.  I've tried others including many so called luxury mincemeats, but I still like either homemade matured mincemeat or extras added to Robertson's brand mincemeat. 

Do remember that if you make totally homemade mincemeat you must leave it for at least a week or two to macerate and mature.  Starting with a pot of prepared mincemeat and titivating it up as I do here, speeds up the process.

Use added extras from your store cupboard.  I think the most essential added extra is a medium cooking or a large eating apple either coarsely grated or chopped fine.  This very basic extra will always cut the sickly sweetness of bought mincemeat.  To enhance this even more, use a zester to remove the rind of a half or full lemon and if you have an orange nearby use the rind of that too.  You can be flexible.  No orange or lemon - don't fret over it.  Mix the apple and grated rinds into the mincemeat.

Now add the luxury extras.  

Next take about 1 tablespoon of blanched almonds, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts and chop the nuts into small bits.  Any of these nuts work well, but do avoid using peanuts or cheap nut mixes, which are primarily peanuts.  Take 2 tablespoons of natural red glace cherries and cut each into 5 or 6 pieces.

Don't worry if you are short on the ingredients anything extra you add makes for variety.  You can also add 3 or 4 chopped apricots or figs if you wish.

If you especially like tart tastes then you could instead omit the cherries and may prefer adding about 3 or 4 cranberries to each pie as you assemble the pies.  Try some experiments based on your own taste preferences.  For example although I like dessert dates, I don't like them in my mince pies!

Now add 1 tablespoon of brandy, rum or sherry to zap up your bowl of 'luxury' mincemeat. (I was going to type 2 tablespoons, but I know some of you won't be able to resist adding an extra tablespoon!) Add more than two to this already moist mix and it really all will be too wet.  But some juicy wetness can be absorbed as we will use a teaspoon of ground almonds on each pie to absorb this excess from the mix.

The bonus of adding these extra 'luxury' ingredients is that it makes the basic pound of mincemeat bulk up enough to be the exact amount for this pastry recipe which makes 24 to 30 mince pies dependant on your lid method and the thickness you roll the paste.

You are reading an original Almond Shortcrust Pastry Christmas Mince Pie food article by Pauline Weston Thomas at www.fashion-era.com ©.
 

Assemble the Mince Pies

N.B. This almond shortcrust pastry is delicate, but should roll out smoothly and it is melt in the mouth!

Flour your work surface.

Next, divide the rested pastry into 3 and roll each piece one at a time into a circle.  Make sure a palette knife will slip under the rolled pastry before you cut the rounds.

Use a 3" (7.5cm) scallop edge ring cutter and in total cut 24 patty rounds for the bases.  Before you cut the rounds dip your cutter into flour - this will help the cut rounds come away more easily.

Line the buttered tins with these rounds.  If you find the pastry difficult to handle when pushing it into the patty tin contours, I suggest you take a one inch ball of the dough and use that to mould each round into the patty tin.  That way you won't poke your fingers through each base.

With all the pastry scraps you can often get up to 30 rounds out plus the toppings. You should certainly get 24 base rounds plus 24 stars or holly leaves, especially if you utilize the re-rolled pastry bits.  If you do only make a dozen then I suspect your pastry is rolled too thickly.

Fill 2 x 12 tray with rounds and place a teaspoon or two of mincemeat in each.  Now place a level teaspoon of ground almonds over the top of each amount of mincemeat filling. This will stop any mincemeat juices boiling over the pie edges.

Mincemeat Pies Topping Decorations

Holly cutter I don't seal my Christmas mince pies anymore as I hated the juice leakage affecting the appearance of the cooked pies.  Now, mostly I make small stars and holly leaves for the tops. Combined with the addition of some ground almonds, the loose lid has solved the former problem of juice overflow.

Use a star cutter or a holly cutter.   Mark holly leaves with some veins with the back of a knife. Half cherries make for great berries with the holly leaves.

Cover some of the mince pies with stars and freeze a tray if desired. It is best to freeze RAW mince pies with stars rather than holly leaves. The tips of the holly leaves can easily chip off when frozen hard. 

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated oven set to 190C, gas No. 5 or 375F.  If you feel they need a few more minutes watch them carefully as the butter content in the pastry can suddenly catch.

Ratafia Meringue Topping

For a little variety, I often take the 1 reserved egg white (leftover from the pastry) and whip it stiffly into peaks.  Add 2 oz caster sugar, whip again and now fold in 2 oz ground almonds and half a teaspoon of almond essence.

Put this in a piping bag and pipe it over the mincemeat on some pies.  Spoon it over if you prefer.  Bake the Ratafia meringue mince pies for 20 minutes in a preheated oven set to  190C, gas No. 5 or 375F.  This variety of Christmas mince pie takes a little longer than the pastry topped pies.

Allow either type to cool for a few minutes then carefully use a knife and/or teaspoon to loosen the pies around the edge.  You will need to judge this timing of the pastry cool down, so you can remove the pies onto a wire rack without the pies breaking up. 

The pastry needs to be warm enough to yield to the knife, but not so warm that it will break.  The pastry does need to be firming up, yet still have some movement in it.  Try a few different sized spoons - I like a flatter, rounder soup to lift out a whole pie.  Sometimes a teaspoon works best, sometimes the mince pies will just flip out with no bother.
 

I usually make 2 dozen to a batch from this mince pie recipe. 

Whenever I make mince pies,  I make a dozen that I cook that day and freeze the remaining raw (uncooked) dozen in 2 patty tins with six pies in each tin.  I usually leave them in the buttered tins so they can be cooked at an instant's notice.  You can though remove them from the tins once the raw pies have frozen solid and just store them loose in a container.  Just remember to put the frozen back into the correct patty tray when you wish to cook them.

As December progresses my freezer gathers up quite an assembly of these half tins of ready-to-cook mince pies plus some already cooked mince pies.  They always turn out to be a boon to have prepared ahead and I found it worthwhile investing in some extra trays of six simply for this job. 

If just one friend calls round  at short notice I can pop a six tray into the oven in no time.  The advantage of not having 2 dozen ready cooked just in case is that you don't gobble them all up and ruin your 'diet' - this way you have the best of both worlds, fresh Christmas mince pies and an element of festive spice, orange and lemon smells in the house.

I have not worked out the calorific value of this particular mince pie recipe, but I do recall many years ago that the going rate for the calories in an average mince pie was 400! I restrict myself to 2 a day in December or make them smaller!

I hope these mince pies become part of your Christmas Tradition as they are in my home.

Failing the effort required here I advise you to pop into your local Marks and Spencers and buy their luxury mini mince pies and warm them lightly!
You have been reading an original Almond Shortcrust Pastry Christmas Mince Pie food article by Pauline Weston Thomas at www.fashion-era.com ©.
 

 

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