Season’s eatings

FACE OF JOY: Homemade mince pies bring smiles


The temptation to purchase ready-made snacks for ease is huge at Christmas, what with so much to do and so little time. This year, take a few hours out of your day and make these mince pies from scratch. You’ll get far more pleasure seeing your family enjoying them knowing your own touch has gone into making them.

Making the mincemeat

  1. In a large pan, dissolve 75gr of brown sugar in 60ml of port over a gentle heat. Add 300gr of cranberries and stir. Add 1tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of ground ginger and cloves, 150gr of currants and raisins, 30gr of dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementine. 
  2. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
  4. Add 25ml of brandy, three drops of almond extract, 1/2tsp of vanilla extract and 2tbs of honey, and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Making the pies

  1. Get a tray of miniature tart tins, each indent 4.5cm in diameter, along with a 5.5cm fluted, round biscuit cutter and a 4cm star cutter.
  2. Measure 240gr of plain flour into a shallow bowl or dish and, with a teaspoon, dollop little mounds of 60gr of vegetable shortening into the bowl.
  3. Add 60gr of small diced butter, shake to cover it, and put in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  4. Mix together the juice of an orange and a pinch of salt in a separate, small bowl, cover and leave in the fridge to chill. 
  5. After the 20 minutes, empty the flour and fat into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until pale like porridge crumbs. Pour the salted juice down the funnel, pulsing until it looks as if the dough is about to stick together.
  6. Turn the mixture out of the processor onto a pastry board or work surface and, using your hands, combine to a dough. Then form into three discs. You’ll need to make these in three batches, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once.
  7. Wrap each disc in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
  8. Roll out the discs, one at a time, as thinly as possible.
  9. Out of each rolled-out disc, cut out circles a little wider than the indentations in the tart tins. Press these circles gently into the moulds and dollop in a small teaspoon of mincemeat.
  10. Cut out your stars with a star cutter – re-rolling the pastry as necessary – and place the tops lightly on the mincemeat.
  11. Bake for 10–15 minutes, remove from the oven and dust over icing sugar.
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