3 January 2011

Mince Pies

Its been so hectic over Christmas that I haven't had a chance to blog about the baking I did over the holiday - not much it has to be said, I seemed to spend most of my time making mince pies!  I'm glad they're only made at Christmas time as I'm sick of looking at them now after having made so many.

I used the recipe from 'The Great British Book of Baking', the book to accompany the Great British Bake-off series from the BBC that I got obsessed with.  The heart top is quite cute, but not as festive as the usual star, but my star cutter has gone wandering off....

Mince Pies

a large jar of mincemeant; a 400g jar will suffice
 + 8-9 cm round cutter
    star-shaped cutter, or heart-shaped if you wish to buck tradition
    small bun tin

Almond Pastry
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
85g icing sugar or caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 medium free-range egg yolk

1) If you are lucky/clever/lazy, combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and give them a quick blitz before adding the butter and pulsing until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.
To make by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix, then add the butter and use the rubbing-in method to produce bread crumbs - see here for tips on making shortcrust pastry by hand.
2) Add the egg yolk and mix until the pastry makes a ball of soft dough; wrap in clingfilm and allow to chill before use.

To make the mince pies:
1) Preheat the oven to 180C and have your Christmas assistant grease the bun tin.
2) Lightly sprinkle the work surface, surrounding flour, curtains, dog and yourself with flour to prevent the pastry from sticking; roll out to about 4mm thick and cut away!
   - you can re-roll scraps to make more mince pies, just do some gently to avoid too much handling of the       pastry.
3) Gently press the rounds into the bun tins and top with 1 1/4 teaspoon of mincemeant - avoid the desire to overfill as the mincemeant will burst out when cooking and your pie will be covered in sticky, gooey, VERY HOT mincemeat.
4) Top with your choice of lid, round or shaped, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown; rich pastry like this tends to cook faster so be aware, nobody wants a burnt mince pie.

When cool, dust with icing sugar to make them look delicious.

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