Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mince pies

Ingredients450g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 240g unsalted butter, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 140ml orange juice, zest of 2 oranges, 3 roses, 250g cranberries, 100g sultanas, 100g raisins, 2 apples, 1 tbsp allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 100ml brandy, 20g brown sugar.
Serves: 24 Preparation: 2 hours (plus overnight)

I love mince pies - the crumbly texture of all butter pastry with a hint of orange, the heady, boozy fruit in the centre and that dollop of thick cream. Mmmm. Nothing is more Christmassy and they're so easy to make.

To make the mincemeat: 

1) Pour the sultanas and raisins into a bowl and cover with brandy. Leave to soak overnight.

2) Wash the roses thoroughly, remove the petals and cover the petals with the brown sugar. Leave overnight.

3) The next day, peel, core and dice the apples, then add to a pan with the cranberries, rose petals and sugar. Add a little water and allow the mixture to come to the boil. After about 5 minutes the fruit should be macerated and most of the liquid evaporated. Add the brandy, sultanas and raisins, allspice and cinnamon.

To make the pastry:

4) Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a food processor with the flour and sugar. Pulse until it becomes the consistency of breadcrumbs.

5) I like to use clementines for this because they're the Christmassiest oranges! Zest two, then squeeze the juice of about 5, giving you about 140ml of juice. Add the zest of the oranges into the food processor, then the juice in a steady stream until the pastry begins to form a ball.

6) Remove from the blender - if it's sticky, add a little more flour - roll up in clingfilm and put in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

7) Roll out the pastry (you shouldn't need a floured surface - if the pastry is sticky then you have used too much liquid) to about 1/2 a centimetre thickness and cut out circles of dough. I like to use a large circle on the bottom and a smaller circle for the top but you could use a dough shape like a star or a tree if you like for the top.

8) Press the large circles of dough firmly into your baking tin and add about a teaspoon and a half of the mincemeat. Add the tops and bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 200 degrees.

I like to eat these hot, served with a generous dollop of champagne cream.

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