My home-made luxury mincemeat has been ‘resting’ nicely for a month. It’s now just about ready for me to make my first batch of mince pies.
We’ve got the luxury mincemeat, so how about a bit of luxury pastry too?!
I’ve gone for a buttery shortcrust pastry flavoured with almond. The flavours work so well together – and make for the perfect Christmas treat.
Compliment them with a cup of tea or glass of mulled wine, comfy chair and real fire (sleeping dog optional). It’s what Christmas (in fact, winter in general) is all about for us.
- 180g/6⅓oz plain flour
- 70g/2½oz 'tant pour tant' (35g/1¼oz icing sugar + 35g/1¼oz ground almonds)
- pinch of salt
- 125g/4½oz very cold butter, cubed
- 1½-2tbs cold water
- A little beaten egg
- Put the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine
- Add the butter and pulse again until you get to the fine breadcrumb stage
- Whilst still pulsing, add the ice cold water until the mixture begins to get lumpy - like dry scrambled eggs
- Empty ⅔ of the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
- Form the dough into a ball by lifting & bringing together the 4 ends of the cling film. Repeat with the remaining ⅓ of the pastry
- Chill in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour
- Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease a 12-hole or two, 6-hole muffin tins
- Lightly flour your work surface, remove your larger ball of dough from the fridge, unwrap and divide it into 12 equal pieces (about 20-22g each)
- One by one, roll each piece of dough into a ½cm thick round shape. Cut into perfect circles with a cookie cutter (or upturned drinking glass if you don't have one) that's slightly wider than the hole of your muffin tin. **Rolling each pie case individually means that you don't overwork the pastry by re-rolling over & over again**
- Gently press the pastry rounds into the muffin tin holes (handy hint: use a small lump of pastry to do this if you have long fingernails!)
- Spoon mincemeat into each pastry case and press down gently to level. Don't overfill
- Get the smaller batch of dough out of the fridge and again divide into 12 equal pieces (about 11g each)
- One by one, roll each piece of dough into a ½cm thick round shape. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. I used a star-shaped cutter but you can make other Christmas-y shapes like holly leaves, snowflakes, fir trees and the like!
- Top each pie with the shaped pastry before brushing the tops with a little beaten egg
- Bake for 12-15 minutes
- Allow to cool in the tin completely before removing
- Put on a cooling rack or serving plate and sprinkle/dredge with icing sugar
There were a couple of culinary firsts for me this week.
Firstly, I made a vegetarian hot water pastry, based on one I found in my Pie cookbook.
Instead of using lard, I used a bit of vegetarian suet.
I’ve never, ever eaten a pork pie (I’ve been vegetarian since the eighties). I had to ask Justin if my pastry was anything like it is meant to be… seeing as he eats this kind of raised pie on a regular basis. In fact he eats pork pie every Thursday without fail – sharing it with Fudge on their walks after an early flea market forage.
My other first was cumin-spiced pumpkin & chickpea pies.
We bought a pumpkin at Halloween so I was looking for a new way of using it.
I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. Granted, I’ve only had it the once, but it didn’t leave fond memories.
I much prefer these squash type vegetables savoury rather than sweet.
It certainly makes a good substantial filling for this type of pie – great flavour too with the addition of the very complimentary curry spices.
This recipe makes quite a few, small pies. If like us you’re only likely to eat a few at a time, they can be frozen both before and once cooked.
They’re the perfect little autumn pies!
- 50g strong bread flour
- 250ml milk
- 50ml double or whipping cream
- 55ml milk
- 2 eggs
- 540g strong bread flour
- 85g caster sugar
- 8g salt
- 10g powered milk
- 11g instant dried yeast
- 185g tangzhong
- 50g butter, softened
- Add the 50g flour and 250ml milk to a medium-sized saucepan and mix with a whisk until there are no lumps
- Heat over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly. After a couple of minutes (and when it reaches the magic 65ºC) you'll notice the mixture thickening. Lower the heat and continue to stir until the tangzhong begins to come away from the sides & bottom of the saucepan and begins to form low peaks when you lift the whisk
- Put the tangzhong into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to cool while you make the dough
- In a mixing bowl (I used my Kenwood mixer as there's a lot of kneading involved!) add the cream, milk and eggs and combine for a few seconds
- Add the flour, sugar, powdered milk, yeast and tangzhong and, using the dough hook, mix for 3 minutes on a low setting
- Add the softened butter and salt and mix for a further 10-15 minutes, again on a low setting
- Remove the dough hook, quickly form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with clingfilm and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (45-60 minutes)
- Grease 2 small bread tins
- Put the dough on a floured work surface, divide into quarters, form each piece into a ball, put them on to a floured oven tray, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to relax in a warm place for 20 minutes
- On the floured work surface, one by one, roll each ball into a rectangle using a rolling pin
- Fold each rectangle of dough into ⅓s along the long sides, turn over so the overlap is on the underside and re-roll into a rectangle
- Roll up each rectangle along the long end and put into a baking tin with the end of the roll facing down to stop unravelling
- Cover the pans loosely with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for the 2nd prove for 45-60 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC
- Once proved, brush the top of each loaf with egg wash and bake for 35-45 minutes
- Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating
National Pie Week is going from strength to strength here in the UK. It’s been talked about all over social media and in the traditional media too. Chris Evans and his team have been waxing lyrical about pies they’ve been sent by bakeries from all over the country.
Last year for Pie Week I made a lovely butter pie; this year I wanted to keep with the theme of a vegetarian, rustic, humble pie. I turned to my copy of Pie by Genevieve Taylor that we reviewed last year. I found just the recipe – cheese and celery pies – but with a little twist.
The original recipe is a single pie done in a shallow pie plate. I quite liked the idea of doing little individual hand pulled pies. I used a couple of cling film-wrapped jars in lieu of a pastry dolly.
Pulled pies are usually made using hot water pastry, but I was being lazy and just whizzed up a quick batch of shortcrust pastry. I think it worked just fine, but I’m sure Paul Hollywood wouldn’t approve!
This recipe made 4 small pies but you can easily scale it up. We had one each so I put the other two in the freezer – pre-baked – so that they can be taken out and baked off the next time we fancy a pie.
There was a little bit of pastry left over – isn’t there always? I quite like rolling it out thinly, slicing it into long thin strips, sprinkling over with cheese and baking for 15 minutes. What do you do with yours?
I’ve already started thinking about what pie I’m going to make next year!
- 360g/12½oz plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 180g/6⅓oz cold butter, cubed
- 6-8 tbsp cold water
- 25g/1oz butter
- ½tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ head celery, sliced
- 125ml/4 fl oz veg stock (or ½ veg stock cube + 125ml boiling water)
- 30g/1oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
- salt & ground black pepper to taste
- a little beaten egg to glaze