Before this blog, it had never occurred to me to make either my own mincemeat or my own pastry. The latter happened for the first time last week and as for mincemeat – I am a total convert. It’s spectacularly simple and fills the house with festive fragrance as it gently cooks in the oven. I did struggle with the pastry (too short apparently, according to John – the pastry, not me!) but wow! I can honestly say that these mince pies are the best I’ve ever tasted – it’s not my cooking, but the fantastic recipes!
for the mincemeat
Makes 2.75kg (6 – 7 jars, I used a collection of different sized jam jars!)
What you need…
450g cooking apples, cored, left unpeeled and chopped small
225g candied peel, finely chopped
350g soft dark brown sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
50g flaked almonds
4 teaspoons ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons brandy/cognac
for the sweet shortcrust pastry (makes about 12 mince pies)
1 x 12-hole tartlet tin, lightly buttered
125g unsalted butter
65g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
250g plain flour
1 – 2 teaspoons water
for the finish
1 egg, lightly beaten
icing sugar to dust
What to do to make the mincemeat…
The evening before you want to cook the mincemeat, combine everything, except the brandy/cognac, in a large casserole, stirring the ingredients in as you add them to make sure that they are thoroughly mixed. Pop the lid on and leave in a cool place overnight to allow the flavours to gather.
The following morning, preheat the oven to 120°c / 225°f / gas ¼.
Pop the casserole, with its lid on, into the oven and cook for 3 hours.
Remove from the oven and over the next few hours, whilst it is cooling, give it a little stir every now and then to make sure that the now melted suet is evenly distributed and coating the other ingredients, rather than being separate.
When it’s cold, stir in the brandy and spoon into clean jars with lids/seals. Keep your Christmas mincemeat in a cool, dark cupboard until you are ready to make your mince pies.
What to do to make your mince pies…
Mix together the butter and icing sugar until they are completely blended. Add the egg yolk and then the flour. Kneed until you have a smooth dough. If you’re struggling to get it to stick together, add a little water and continue to knead. Leave to rest for at least 1 hour before using.
Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375 °f / gas 5.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a little less than 5mm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds slightly larger than the tartlet moulds for the pie bottoms and gently push them in. Fill them with mincemeat. Using a cookie cutter 2 sizes smaller than the first, cut another 12 rounds for the lids. Brush a little beaten egg around the edges of the lids and stick them to the top of the mince pies. Brush with little more egg and then, using a sharp knife, cut a little hole in the top of each one to allow the steam to escape during cooking.
Bake for around 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack and when cool, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar.
Take a bite and absolutely relish the abundant gorgeousness of these festive treats – a good reason to have Christmas all year around! Once you’ve made your first Christmas mincemeat and mince pies, you’ll never revert to shop-bought again!
Ideally, make your mincemeat in October/November. Stored in a cool place, it will keep for months and just needs to be brought out whenever you fancy a quick batch of festive loveliness!
Team effort here: mincemeat by Delia Smith; pastry from Raymond Blanc
On the mincemeat, very little effort for such a lovely outcome. I nearly gave up on the pastry as it kept falling apart when I stuck to the original recipe. The addition of a little water resolved the issue and it was worth persevering.