Cakes & Bakes: Luxury mince pies

Home-made luxury mince pies | H is for Home #recipe #mincepies #baking #ChristmasRecipe #pastry #pie

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.

Making pastry cases for home-made luxury mince pies | H is for Home

We’ve got the luxury mincemeat, so how about a bit of luxury pastry too?!

Filling pastry cases for home-made luxury mince pies | H is for Home

I’ve gone for a buttery shortcrust pastry flavoured with almond. The flavours work so well together – and make for the perfect Christmas treat.

Plate of luxury mince pies and mug of tea in front of the fire | H is for Home

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.

Click here to save my recipe to Pinterest for later!

Luxury mince pies
Yields 12
    For the pastry
    1. 180g/6⅓oz plain flour
    2. 70g/2½oz 'tant pour tant' (35g/1¼oz icing sugar + 35g/1¼oz ground almonds)
    3. pinch of salt
    4. 125g/4½oz very cold butter, cubed
    5. 1½-2tbs cold water
    6. A little beaten eggHome-made mince pies ingredients
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    Instructions
    1. Put the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine
    2. Add the butter and pulse again until you get to the fine breadcrumb stage
    3. Whilst still pulsing, add the ice cold water until the mixture begins to get lumpy - like dry scrambled eggs
    4. Empty ⅔ of the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
    5. 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
    6. Chill in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour
    7. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
    8. Grease a 12-hole or two, 6-hole muffin tins
    9. 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)
    10. 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**
    11. 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!)
    12. Spoon mincemeat into each pastry case and press down gently to level. Don't overfill
    13. Get the smaller batch of dough out of the fridge and again divide into 12 equal pieces (about 11g each)
    14. 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!
    15. Top each pie with the shaped pastry before brushing the tops with a little beaten egg
    16. Bake for 12-15 minutes
    17. Allow to cool in the tin completely before removing
    18. Put on a cooling rack or serving plate and sprinkle/dredge with icing sugar
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    Luxury home-made mincemeat

    Jars of home-made mincemeat | H is for Home #recipe #Christmas #ChristmasFood

    Many people don’t like thinking about Christmas until the beginning of December – I know I don’t! However, there are a few things that need to be prepared well in advance for them to be at their peak for the big day. Christmas cake, sloe gin, piccalilli  and home-made mincemeat are just a few.

    Home-made mincemeat mixture | H is for Home

    I’m very fussy about my mincemeat; I don’t like it to be overly citrusy – so, very little orange or lemon zest & juice and no mixed candied peel. In addition, it needs to be veggie – so can only contain vegetarian suet. The only way to ensure it tastes the way I like it is to make it myself. A very easy job and well worthwhile. It works out much cheaper than the cost of ‘luxury’ jars of the stuff in supermarkets. Once made, potted up and put away correctly, it stores unopened for years!

    Home-made mincemeat mixture being decanted into jars | H is for Home

    Save my luxury home-made mincemeat recipe to Pinterest!

    Luxury home-made mincemeat
    Ingredients
    1. 200g/7oz currants
    2. 200g/7oz raisins
    3. 200g/7oz sultanas
    4. 100g/3½oz dried cranberries
    5. 100g/3½oz figs, roughly chopped
    6. 100g/3½oz prunes, roughly chopped
    7. 30g/1oz blanched almonds*, roughly chopped
    8. 1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored & finely diced
    9. 300g/10½oz muscovado sugar
    10. 200g/7oz vegetable suet
    11. zest & juice of 1 lemon
    12. 3tsp mixed spice
    13. ½tsp cinnamon
    14. ¼tsp nutmeg
    15. 6tbsp rum or brandy
    16. 100g/3½oz butter, cubedHome-made mincemeat ingredients
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    Instructions
    1. Put all the ingredients except the alcohol into a large saucepan over a low heat
    2. Stir to ensure the contents are well combined and the suet and butter have melted (about 10 minutes)
    3. Allow to cool completely before stirring in the alcohol
    4. Decant into sterilised jam jars - gently bang the bottom of each jar to fit as much of the mincemeat in as possible.
    5. Seal the jars immediately and store for at least a month before use
    Notes
    1. *To blanch almonds, put them in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes before draining through a sieve. Pat them dry on some kitchen paper or clean tea towel. You can quickly get the skin off one by one by pinching the broader, rounded end of the nut
    Print
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    Cakes & Bakes: Pear Galette

    Home-made pear galette with ice cream | H is for Home #recipe #baking #cooking #cookery #dessert #pastry

    This week, we’ve watched the first in Rick Stein’s new series, Rick Stein’s Road To Mexico. His first port of call was California where he met up with Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse. While there, one of her chefs was filmed making a rhubarb galette – it looked amazing. It’s no longer rhubarb season, so I’ve made a pear galette instead.

    Sweet galette pastry | H is for Home

    I much prefer rustic, unfussy food like this to haute cusine with all its foams, purées and the like. A galette is just the kind of rustic dessert I crave on a cold autumn evening. A circle of sweet pastry covered with in-season fruit and roughly folded in on itself, free-form.

    Cored pears | H is for Home

    Instead of a pear galette (or rhubarb), you could make one with stone fruits such as peaches, plums, nectarines or apricots. How about apple & pecan, fig, blueberry or cherry?

    Sliced pears tossed in Demerara sugar | H is for Home Laying sliced pears on pastry round | H is for Home

    A savoury galette with autumn & winter vegetables is also a great idea; carrots, beetroot, caramelised onion… with cheeses and/or herbs – the variations are endless!

    Pear galette brushed with melted butter | H is for Home

    It’s such an easy, versatile dish to prepare and cook – pastry with whatever meat, veg or fruit that you have to hand.

    Sliced home-made pear galette | H is for Home
    Click here to save my recipe to Pinterest!

    Pear Galette
    Serves 8
    For the pastry
    1. 320g/11oz plain flour
    2. 2tbsp caster sugar
    3. ¼tsp salt
    4. 115ml/4fl oz cold butter, cubed
    5. 4tbsp cold water
    For the filling
    1. 2 dessert pears
    2. 3tbsp Demerara sugar
    3. 2tbsp fine semolina
    4. 25g/1oz flaked almonds
    5. 2tbsp melted butterHome-made pear galette ingredients
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    For the pastry
    1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, caster sugar and salt
    2. Using a food processor (on pulse) or hand pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the butter is evenly distributed but still in large, visible pieces
    3. Add the cold water all at once
    4. Pulse until it begins to come together
    5. Empty the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
    6. Form the dough into a ball by lifting & bringing together the 4 ends of the cling film
    7. Flatten the dough into a disk inside the cling film and chill in the fridge for at ½ to 1 hour
    8. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
    For the filling
    1. Core & evenly slice the pears and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl
    2. Sprinkle over 2tbsp of the Demerara sugar and toss to cover the pear slices evenly
    To finish
    1. Tear off 2 sheets of parchment paper of at least 35½2 (14"2)
    2. Roll the dough out between the two sheets into a 30cm (12") circle
    3. Slide the dough on to a baking tray
    4. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the semolina evenly over the top of the dough
    5. Lay the slices of pear on to the top of the dough in a circle - leaving a 2cm/¾" gap from the edge. Make the slices slightly overlap and ensure you cover the entire surface
    6. Sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of the Demerara sugar and the flaked almonds
    7. Fold the edge of the pastry over, making sure you overlap it on to itself as you go around
    8. Brush the melted butter over the crust edge
    9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown
    10. Slide the parchment with the galette on to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes before consuming
    Notes
    1. Serve warm with cream or ice cream
    Print
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    Cakes & Bakes: Fig rolls

    Home-made fig rolls | H is for Home #recipe #baking #cooking #cookery #figs #figrolls

    A biscuit recipe twice in as many weeks. We’re on a roll! This week, I’ve made a batch of delicious fig rolls… nothing like those dry horrors you tend to get in the shops. The pastry is buttery, crumbly and melt in the mouth; the filling is sweet, figgy and boozy – just lovely!

    Fig roll filling

    Jacobs is the brand that most people in the UK associate with fig rolls. Americans have Fig Newtons and the French, Figolu.

    Strips of pastry | H is for Home Lines of fig filling on pastry | H is for Home

    There’s a fair amount of debate online on the subject of, “Fig rolls: slice before or after baking?”. I decided to conduct my own experiment to find out.

    Fig rolls before going into the oven | H is for Home

    I’ve decided that I prefer them to be sliced before. The pastry is neater and the fig filling softly oozes using this method.

    Cooked fig rolls

    Disagree with my opinion? Have a look at my photographic proof below! The two on the left were sliced prior to cooking and the pair on the right, after.

    Fig rolls: left, sliced before cooking - right, sliced after cooking | H is for Home

    If you’ve given industrially manufactured fig rolls a try, not liked them and have turned your back on them – try making your own. Believe me, you’ll wonder what took you so long to embrace them!

    Click here to save my recipe to Pinterest for future reference.

    Fig rolls
    Yields 16
    Cook Time
    20 min
    Cook Time
    20 min
    For the pastry
    1. 125g/4½oz plain flour
    2. 75g/2⅔oz plain wholemeal flour
    3. 25g/¾oz ground almonds
    4. ½tsp baking powder
    5. 2tsp caster sugar
    6. Pinch of salt
    7. 140g/5oz cold butter, diced
    8. 1 egg yolk
    9. 2tbsp milk
    For the filling
    1. 200g/7oz dried figs, stems removed, roughly chopped
    2. Juice of ½ a lemon
    3. 2tbsp dark rum
    4. 2tbsp water
    5. 2tbsp muscovado sugar
    6. ½tsp mixed spice
    7. 1 egg, beatenHome-made fig rolls ingredients
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    If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
    For the pastry
    1. In a food processor or large mixing bowl, combine the flours, ground almonds, baking powder, caster sugar and salt in a large bowl or food processor
    2. Pulse/rub in the butter to make crumbs
    3. Mix in the egg yolk and just enough milk to bring it together into a coherent dough
    4. shape into a rough rectangle, wrap and chill for about ½ an hour
    For the filling
    1. In a small saucepan, bring the figs 2 tbsp water, 2tbsp dark rum, lemon juice, sugar and spice to a simmer. Cook gently for a few minutes until softened
    2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool
    To combine
    1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
    2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the pastry out to around 20cmx30cm and ½cm thick. Cut in half lengthwise to make 2 long strips
    4. Put a line of filling down one side of each, leaving a slight gap between it and the edge
    5. Brush the edge with water and fold the pastry over the top of the filling pressing down gently to seal
    6. Cut into 4cm lengths and arrange on the baking sheet
    7. Brush the tops with beaten egg before baking for 20-25 minutes until golden brown
    8. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating
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    Cakes & Bakes: Hobnobs

    Home-made hobnobs with mug of tea | H is for Home #recipe #biscuits #cookies #baking #cookery

    It’s been a while since biscuits were featured in our Thursday Cakes & Bakes post, so we started listing the shop-bought biscuits we purchase regularly for potential ideas. Hobnobs sprang to mind – both plain and chocolate coated varieties. Lots of other people must like them too as Hobnobs always make the top ten list for Britain’s favourite biscuit. So today we have a home-made version of this classic brew accompaniment.

    Hobnob dough balls | H is for Home

    It’s a very straightforward recipe and method… and a short cooking time. You could rustle up a batch in the time it takes to get to the shop!

    Tower of home-made hobnobs | H is for Home

    The resulting biscuits are golden brown and very delicious indeed. We left half plain and covered half in chocolate to cater for both preferences. Just one last decision – tea or coffee.

    Hobnobs and small bowl of melted plain chocolate | H is for Home Home-made chocolate-covered Hobnobs | H is for Home

    Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later!

    Home-made Hobnobs
    Yields 30
    Ingredients
    1. 140g/5oz butter
    2. 140g/5oz sugar
    3. 1tbs milk
    4. 1tsp golden syrup
    5. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
    6. 140g/5oz self-raising flour
    7. 110g/4oz porridge oatsHome-made hobnobs ingredients
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    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2
    2. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside
    3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale & fluffy
    4. Beat in the milk, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda
    5. Stir in the flour and oats, combining well
    6. Divide and shape into 25-30 equal-sized balls (about a desertspoon-ful of dough for each) rolling between the palms of your hands
    7. Place 5cm/2" apart on the prepared baking sheet - they spread out a lot during cooking!
    8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
    9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
    10. Store in an airtight container
    Print
    Adapted from The English Kitchen
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    Cakes & Bakes: Natural red velvet layer cake

    Slice of home-made natural red velvet layer cake | H is for Home #recipe #cake #redvelvet

    I’ve made & posted a version of red velvet cake on the blog before. Today, I’ve used an alternative recipe to produce a natural red velvet layer cake.

    Ziplock bags of un-Dutched cacao powder and beetroot powder | H is for Home

    I’ve done a lot of research into getting that bright red colour naturally. Beetroot powder instead of red food colouring and un-dutched cocoa powder instead of the usual alkalised type found more usually in the shops.

    Plain flour, un-Dutched cacao powder and beetroot powder | H is for Home

    You see, this cake is all about chemistry. It’s the pH magic that’s created when the acid of the non-alkaline cocoa powder, the buttermilk and the vinegar are introduced to the bicarbonate of soda. As an aside, our local supermarket was out of buttermilk so I had to make my own. It’s really simple and a good tip to remember. Add a tablespoonful of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup (235ml/8⅓fl oz) of milk, allow to stand for 5 minutes – there’s your home-made buttermilk!

    Natural red velvet layer cake batter in cake tins | H is for Home Cooked natural red velvet layer cakes in cake tins | H is for Home

    The cake wasn’t the radioactive shade of red that you get when using food colouring. I think I’d add a little bit more beetroot powder next time to get a slightly redder shade however – my natural red velvet recipe is work in progress! Some people comment on an ‘earthy’ taste to their cake when using beetroot, but I can’t say I noticed any. A delicious taste was detected that’s for sure!

    Home-made natural red velvet layer cake | H is for Home

    Click here to save this recipe to Pinterest!

    Natural red velvet layer cake
    For the cake
    1. 200g/7oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
    2. 420g/15oz plain flour
    3. 75g/2¾oz cocoa powder
    4. 50g/1¾oz beetroot powder
    5. 375g/13oz golden caster sugar
    6. 3 eggs, beaten
    7. 1½tsp vanilla extract
    8. 335ml/11¾ fl oz buttermilk
    9. 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
    10. 1½tsp white distilled vinegar
    For the frosting
    1. 75g/2¾oz unsalted butter, slightly softened
    2. 450g/1lb icing sugar
    3. 190g/6¾oz full-fat cream cheese, chilled
    4. 1tsp vanilla extractHome-made natural red velvet layer cake ingredients
    Add ingredients to shopping list
    If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
    For the cake
    1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
    2. Grease 4 x 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking parchment
    3. Combine the flour, cocoa and beetroot powder in a large bowl and set aside
    4. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together
    5. Slowly whisk in the beaten eggs, then the vanilla extract
    6. Start adding the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches, whisking well but slowly after each addition
    7. Add the buttermilk and stir until smooth
    8. Working quickly, combine the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a small bowl, then fold it into the cake mixture
    9. Once incorporated, divide the batter between the prepared cake tins
    10. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean
    11. Remove and cool slightly in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely
    12. Trim the cakes so they're level
    For the frosting
    1. Rub the butter into the icing sugar to resemble fine breadcrumbs
    2. Add the chilled cream cheese and beat until smooth
    3. Stir in the vanilla extract
    4. Fit a large piping bag with a plain nozzle and fill with the frosting
    5. Place the first cake on a cake stand or plate and pipe large pearls of frosting on the top, starting at the outside and working your way inwards
    6. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat until all the layers are lined up and the top is fully decorated with frosting
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