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Friday, 20 December 2013

Decadent Mince Pies

Hello Lovelies,

Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la, la la la la, so on that merry note lets get down to business, and that business is Mince Pies, those yummy little things that all us Brits associate with the yumminess (gluttony) of Christmas.  They are little parcels of goodness that make the festive period just that bit more naughty, especially as you have to eat twelve to make sure you have 12 happy months the following year!

For those of you that live over the pond, mince pies do not contain meat, I was rather taken aback whilst having a natter with an American chum who had 1) never eaten a mince pie and 2) thought they were small meat pies, so to set those straight who aren't in the know, mince pies are a British fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie, that are a Christmas treat they are wonderful when eaten warm and dusted with confectioners sugar.

As my Grandma will confirm I am pretty lazy when it comes to making pastry but, my exception is mince pies, there is always time to knock up some flaky rough puff, however if you are short on time or making it is just not your thing, feel very free to whip out some ready made.


To make 2 dozen pies you'll need:

A mince pie/shallow bun tray

375g plain flour and a good pinch of salt

250g chilled butter cut into 1cm squares

200ml iced water

1 beaten egg

1 jar luxury mincemeat

Splash of brandy

Icing sugar for dusting

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F

The most important thing with pastry is to keep it cool, so fling open those doors and windows and chill that kitchen!  Once your kitchen is suitably cool run your hand under the cold tap and make a mixing bowl sized space in your freezer.  Once that is all done sift your flour into your bowl and add your salt.

Next add your butter to the flour.

You then want to add around 12 tablespoons of iced water over the flour while you stir it using a knife, you want to stir it until it all clumps together.

Then get your hands in there, (I like to dip my hands in the ice water to make sure they are cold but remember to dry them) when everything is in a big lump pop it on your floured surface and roll into a long rectangle, if you don't have a a rolling pin in your kitchen you can always use a wine bottle .  The next step is to fold it.

You want to think of it in thirds, fold the first in then the second so they overlap, then pretend you are Jackie Chan and chop your pastry length ways.  Turn it 90 degrees and start again, you want to repeat this 3 times before popping it back in the bowl, covering it with cling film and putting it in the freezer for 10 mins.

While your pastry is in the freezer, you can sort out your mince meat, I could be really snazzy and make it myself, like the legend that is Mary Berry but my family wont be so lucky, this year they are getting it from a jar, saying that I like to add diced apricot and of course a splash of brandy, but remember to use the heap stuff!

Once you have sorted out your mincemeat, beat an egg and remove your pastry from the freezer (it should be nice and chilled, but make sure your hands are cool).  Next chop a third of as this will become the lid you want to roll it out to about 2cm thick then use a cookie cutter (or tumbler) to cut out the bottoms, once they are done repeat with the tops.  I use a smaller size for the top, but you don't have to, I just find it fits better.

Lay them into your tray and add a heaped teaspoon of filling.  Once your bases are filled wet the edges and press the tops onhe tops on.  Use a sharp knife to cut two little air ho;es then brush them with the beaten egg.

You want to pop them on the middle shelf of your oven for 10 mins, but do keep an eye on them as they are pesky little things!

Once out of the oven, put on a cooling rack while you hunt for your favourite plate in the back of the kitchen cupboard, then pile high and dust with snow (icing sugar).  They are then fair game, so dig in while they are still there and enjoy their Christmassy flakey goodness..

What is your favourite treat to make at Christmas?

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