Friday 21 December 2007

Festive Mince Pies

Christmas is nearly here, the tree is up, the decorations are displayed and thick fluffy jumpers are making an appearance. The festive baking is well underway and along with it come mince pies. Those little pastry cases full of boozy fruits, sugar and spice that everyone seems to feel must always be on hand to feed unexpected guests and well wishers. They have become associated with the last few days before Christmas, in my family at least. This year I had the added bonus of being able to make mince pies using my own homemade mincemeat (fruitmince) that I made a few weeks previously.

Its had time to mature, the flavours have mingled and its sweet sticky fruitiness has developed. I found another bonus to making my own mincemeat, which was because my mixture was heated before being jarred, the suet had dissolved throughout the mixture meaning that when I baked with it, it didn’t bubble over the edges of the pastry, making the pies stick to the tin as I have found with other mixes. This is because when the suet is left raw, it creates extra ‘liquid’ when it melts and often bubbles over the top of the pies. Having the suet already melted also means you can fill the pastry cases with even more mincemeat without the fear of it bubbling over.

I decided to make a batch for this years last offering to the Monday Munchers. I decided to make them more festive by cutting out Christmassy shapes of pastry for the tops, rather than using a round disc of pastry like most store bought ones. I used a star, holly leaf and a Christmas tree cutter. I also dusted them with a snowy shower of icing sugar before serving which made them look extra festive.

They went down very well and were full of flavour. My only small disappointment was that the mincemeat was not that boozy. You could tell there was some there, but it wasn’t overly obvious, but then again this allowed the flavour of the fruits to shine through so I suppose it depends what flavour you want. I’m sure a blob of brandy butter would help enhance the boozy aspect.

These are a must have in my family at this time of year, even for people who don’t like mice pies, they still expect to see them on the table. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the site and smell of baking mince pies.

Mince Pies

½ jar mincemeat
500g sweet shortcrust pastry
Milk, caster sugar and icing sugar to decorate

Preheat the oven to 190C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up. Make sure you have a bun tin to hand.
Flour a work surface and roll out two-thirds of the pastry until around 4mm thick.
Cut out circles of the pastry and place into the bun tin, ensuring the circles are wider that the top of the bun hole in order to fit properly.
Spoon heaped teaspoons of mincemeat into each pastry cup.
Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out festive shapes and add to the tops of the pies.
Brush the pies with milk, cream or egg wash and dust with a lightly sprinkling of caster sugar.
Place the mice pies into the oven onto the hot baking tray (this helps ensure the base of the pies get crisp too) and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin before transferring to a wire wrack.
Serve when still warm with a snowy dusting of icing sugar.
Makes around 14 mince pies

1 comment:

Gigi said...

Katie they look fab and delicious! I just imagine how great the kitchen smelled when the "pies' were baking! And in true Christmas spirit you shared with co-workers.