“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…’
So that can only mean one thing. Yes, it is time to rustle up a batch or ten of mince pies. Whether it’s the school fair, party time, Grandma coming for tea or just to indulge in with a cup of tea and sit down, the humble mince-pie is (nearly) always a hit. Except, of course, with my kids who, despite my protestations, remain unconvinced that it isn’t actually mince meat in inside and still turn their noses up at the dark, sticky filling oozing forth. Even my signature glitterfication couldn’t change their minds, BUT hopefully, for all you mince-pie fans out there, these will bring a little more sparkle to your festivities.
Who do I turn to for these little beauties? Why, Lady Nigella of Lawson, of course! I LOVE her Christmas recipe book and this is just one of her recipes I am sure to bring to the blogosphere in the near future. I must tell you about her turkey preparation…
Anyway, back to the mince pies. Now, it is up to you whether you cheat and use ready rolled pastry or home-made and again your choice whether to go for short pastry or puff, which makes one hell of a mess but looks like a little puffball of pleasure. So many decisions…I am using Nigella’s recipe which requires you to make the pastry. Not of the puffy kind, but nice and flaky.
To make a batch of 18 you will need:
240g plain flour
60g vegetable shortening (like Stork Perfect for Pastry – by the lard)
60g diced cold butter
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1 orange
Put the flour into a bowl and drop in the shortening in little dollops. Add the butter and give it all a gentle stir so the fats are covered with flour. Then pop it into the fridge for 20 mins which will give it extra flakiness.
Mix the orange juice and salt and pop this into the fridge too.
Have a quick sherry whilst singing along to the Michael Bublé Xmas album and imagining him popping out of a parcel under the Christmas tree (this is optional and depending on your persuasion feel free to swap the Bublé with Kylie or whoever takes your fancy)
Put the flour mixture into a food processor/kitchenaid and blitz until it looks like porridgy-breadcrumbs. Pour in the salty juice and pulse until it starts to come together as a dough. Turn out onto a board and combine into a ball of dough. Split into 3 flattened discs and wrap in clingfilm.
Pop into the fridge for 20 mins, preheat the oven to 220ºC (200 fan). Grease and flour a jam tart type tin. Have another sherry, if you’ve time.
Roll out the dough quite thinly and cut into 18 circles. The cutter needs to be slightly bigger than the holes in your tin so the discs cup up the sides. Cut the rest of the dough with a star cutter. Again, the star needs to be just big enough to sit its pointy tips on the rim of the pie.
Pop the circles into the tin and add a teaspoon of mincemeat into each – not too much else it will ooze out when cooking and glue your pie to the tin, as well as looking a mess.
Top each pie with a star and bake for about 10 mins. Do keep an eye on them…
When cooked, pop them out straight away onto a cooling rack and dust with icing sugar (snow) and (this is my addition) edible glitter. When cool, pile them on a plate and pop a sprig of holly on the top. Ta-da! A sparkling mound of yuletide deliciousness!
Pssst! You can freeze them too, for up to 3 months. Just warm them in the oven to spruce them up and, what the hell, a bit more glitter!