Christmas Customs Traditional Christmas Mince
By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com
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 Christmas Mince Pie Recipe
N.B. This pastry is baked at 190°C
for 15 minutes approximately.
oven is inclined to be hot, then reduce the temperature to 180°C.
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
Preheat oven to 190°C, gas No. 5 or 375°F
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
the luxury extras.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
190°C, gas No. 5 or 375°F. 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 190°C, gas No. 5 or 375°F. 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.
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