Christmas is almost here – two weeks no less, and my tastebuds are craving anything that has even the slightest connotations with Christmas. This week, it was mince pies – mince pies are a very British thing. Cold or warm, with or without cream, either way is fine. More than fine. Either way is a joy to behold. I like to mark December 1 with my first mince pie – y’know, really get that festive ball rolling with what I consider the ultimate sweet Christmas treat. My deep-filled mince pies are topped with icing sugar, with the filling encased inside a sweet and crumbly pastry.
25g flaked almonds
1 lemon – zest and juice
1 orange – zest and juice
175g soft brown sugar
4 tbsp dark spiced rum
1 tsp mixed spice
1 ball stem ginger, finally chopped
1 tsp ginger syrup
250g plain flour, sifted
75g icing sugar
150g butter, cubed and very cold
2 egg yolks
Line a muffin tin with butter and dust with flour. Tip it out so each hole is lined with a thin layer of flour. Preheat the oven to 190°C
Make the mincemeat. This ideally can be done ahead of time but it tastes just as good on the day. Tip all the ingredients into a pan and heat. You want the butter to melt and the liquid in the pan to start to bubble slightly. Once you’re at this stage, remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.
On to the pastry: Cube the butter and set it in the freezer for 10 minutes, along with a small bowl of water. You don’t want either to freeze, but you need them to be extra cold to give you the best results.
Combine the flour and icing sugar and tip in the cold butter. Use your fingertips to create a breadcrumb-like consistency. Try and keep your hands cold. Every so often run them under a cold tap and dry them. Once you’re happy with the texture, tip in the egg yolks and a small bit of the water and knead together until you reach a smooth dough. You may need to keep adding water until the mixture comes together fully, but don’t add too much – be cautious with it
Press the dough into a flat round and set in the fridge for half an hour. Remove the from the fridge and roll out. Cut out circles of approx 5″ – dependant on your muffin tin. Press the disc into the base and up the sides of the muffin hole and repeat the process, leaving half your pastry for the tops. Blind bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
Spoon in the mincemeat and cut out the tops with the same cutter – or even better if you can fine one with decorative edges. Press the edges of the top to meet with the sides and poke holes in the top with a fork. Brush with a beaten egg and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Leave to cool before removing from the tins.