One of the best Christmas inventions of all times would have to be Christmas Mince Pies. They are AMAZING! Though I have only ever bought them, this year I decided that it was time I made these delicious morsels. I had to confirm with my mother that it would be okay, and as she knew of my love of them, she KNEW that I could, and would, eat the whole batch if the situation arisen (my Father’s love of them also helped the situation along) XD.
So, I began to surf the net for various fruit mince and fruit mince pie recipes. I found that most recipes contained glace cherries or maraschino cherries neither of which suits my palate. So, I decided to omit those along with the most of the alcohol (I reduced one cup of brandy, to 1/4 cup of crème sherry) that was used in the mince, and some of the nutmeg (which I find too strong of a spice) and all spice (in which I don’t find the smell too pleasant). I also removed the mixed peel. I know that a lot of people feel that it is the ‘heart and soul’ of Christmas puddings but I honestly can’t stand the taste. I had read that some recipes that use nuts, which I’m against as who likes pies with dodgy crunchy fillings? No thank you!
So, I made the mince pie filling a day in advance. I know that your suppose to leave it in a sterilized jar so it has time to marinate, but Christmas was advancing fast, and I had a turkey to roast, a gingerbread house to bake and potatoes to peel. Coincidently, my grandmother (who I got the recipe for plum duff off) came around to my house without arranging, so she caught me just completing the fruit mince. Eager to get her opinion, I was waiting for the opportunity to ask her to taste it, when my Father came home early from work (around lunch time). I asked him to sample the mince, as I feel his love of the homey Christmas pies has rubbed off on me. He was delighted at the taste and smell (keeping in mind that I needed to let it stand overnight to marinate the flavours). He actually went back for a second spoonful!
Just before her departure she tasted the mince, but she seemed to disapprove of the taste as she likes a strong taste of alcohol, whilst I prefer a subtle taste. So that made me feel a little less confident.
The next day I cracked out the food processor, and dropped in the ingredients for the pastry in. I was surprised at how well it turned out, as I know that pastries can be very difficult to make. It was very malleable and wasn’t to dry or to wet. I did taste the pastry before cooking it, and it wasn’t that sweet, which concerned me as I recall Christmas pies being some what sweet and melt in your mouth. However, I lined one and a half muffin tins with the pastry and filled each with the delicious fruit mince, and topped each one with another round of pastry. Looking at the bowl of mince I realized that the mince to pastry ratio was not quite right, and I needed to make more pastry! I ended up making around 25 pies, all of which smelled delicious. The problem I found though, was when removing the lovely pies, they would crumble before my eyes. Having being a labour of my love, I was extremely disappointed in how the turned out, as many had arcs missing and the bases were falling apart. Some had turned to an almost rubble and couldn’t be saved, which knocked the number of Christmas pies back to around 18. Those crumbled pies did not go to waste, and made my dinner for that evening. I made my family (Mother, Father and Sister) test some each, and found I almost had to hid the plate of destroyed pies from my father so that the rest of the family could sample them. I split the batch in two, knowing we couldn’t get through 20 pies for Christmas and stored them in the freezer. This means that when ever I feel like a splash of Christmas, it is just a 10 minute bake in the oven!
Next time I make the pies, i’ll double the batch of pastry, and spend a lot more time oiling the muffin tins and allowing the pies to rest for a good 10 minutes before removal!
Here is the recipe I used, and I HAVE doubled the pastry recipe:
• 250g raisins
• 250g sultanas
• 250g currants
• 65g mixed peel
• 125g butter, softened
• 250g peeled and finely chopped granny smith apples
• 250g brown sugar
• grated rind of ½ lemon
• grated rind of ½ orange
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• pinch each of nutmeg and allspice
• 1 cup (250ml) brandy
• 250g self raising flour
• 220g plain flour
• 250g butter
• 4 Tablespoons icing sugar
• 2 egg yolks
• 6 tablespoons cold water
1. Make sure all ingredients are finely chopped to around the same sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix all the fruit, chopped apples, butter, rind and spices together till well combined. Dissolve the sugar in the brandy and pour it over the mixture.
2. Cover and let stand overnight.
3. The next day stir the mixture again then place in clean dry jars for at least a month before using.
4. To make the pastry:sift the flours and then either rub in the butter or combine in a food processor. Add the sifted icing sugar and then stir in the egg yolk and water and mix it all to a dough. Work into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and then put in the fridge for an hour.
5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Use the egg white to glaze each pie before placing in the oven