Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mince Pies.

When I was little I used to love making mice pies as they were one of the few things we actually made at christmas. My mother never bothered with a Christmas cake or pudding. However as an enterprising eleven year old I thought I would try and sell my mince pies one christmas. From an economic point of view this went very well unfortunately over 100 dozen later I never wanted to see another mince pie. I still make a few batches every year now but try to keep to to a minimum. In our house we have always made mini mince pies and I have two fantastic trays from the Pampered Chef. Each tray takes two dozen and a batch of my pastry should make four dozen or two trays worth. I would advise anyone to invest in this particular tray especially over the lakeland plastics one. The lakeland one is not non stick and the sides are so steep that it is often a nightmare to get the pies out without destroying them in the process. The pampered chef trays are still non stick despited being nearly ten years old and work every time. 

Normally I would agree with the adage that you roll out sweet pastry in icing sugar rather than flour. But with mini mince pies while the sugar caramelising looks beautifully crispy and golden  you cannot get them out of the tin in one piece.

I always use the same recipe for sweet pastry I'm not sure where it originally came from but it is now engraved on my brain I have made it so many times. I can't understand how people to seem to have such problems with pastry. To make this shortcrust pastry all you do is put everything in the magimix and turn in on.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

8oz Plain Flour
5oz Butter
2oz Icing Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
Zest of an Orange
2Tbsp Orange Juice
Pinch of salt

Put all the dry ingredients in the magimix and pulse until you have a bread crumb texture. If you don't have a blender rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Then add the egg yolk and enough orange juice to bring the pastry together into a dough. I would advise allowing it to chill in fridge for half an hour or so before rolling out as it will make it easier to work with.

If you are using this pastry for a summer tart you can use water and vanilla or lemon zest and juice.

I usually make my own mincemeat and then top this with pastry stars but this year I have been finishing up all sorts of odds and ends of mincemeat so thought I would try and add something new to my mince pies. I have read about topping mince pies with frangipani so thought I would give this a go.

Frangipani Topping

200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g flour
2 large eggs
2 tbsp brandy
Flaked almonds to decorate and icing sugar to dust

Beat butter until very soft, in food mixer with paddle attachment, gradually add sugar and ground almonds. Mix in flour, then eggs and lastly the brandy.

Fill casing with mincemeat then pipe the frangipani or smooth it on with a spoon. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. The ratio of frangipani to mince meat is totally up to you. I used the same amount of mince meat I usually use and then piped a thin layer of frangipani on top. This meant that the almond taste was not very strong but created a thin crisp layer on the top which sealed in the moisture.

Bake for about 25mins till golden brown and dust with icing sugar. The ones without the frangipani cook much quicker than the ones with it.

The recipe I followed was from Molly's Kitchen. I halved this quantity.

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