|Delicious Christmas mince pies|
A typical November day, cold but not freezing, some sprinkles of rain after a deluge the night before, slightly grey but with a hint of sun trying to squeeze through. Christmas baking and lots of past November days floated into my mind. Funny what acts as a trigger.
Memories of stirring the pudding in one of those big mustard yellow ceramic bowls with the creamy interior. The youngest in the family stirred last, made a wish and was sworn to secrecy.
The smell of the cake baking, the newspaper wrapped around it singeing and giving off that distinctive smell. (Both my mother and grandmother did this to stop the cake burning at the edges and not baking evenly.)
A warm kitchen slightly steamy but full of glorious promise. The excitement of the countdown.
I continued on the tradition with my children in the hope that they will continue it with theirs.
Most of the joy of Christmas is the anticipation; but why have all the Christmas baking for just one day or just the week? Why not enjoy it when you will really appreciate it? Make some mince pies with delicious homemade mincemeat. Mincemeat Recipe
75g dates stoned and chopped
100g candied peel
75g chopped almonds
75g unsulphured dried apricots chopped
4 tablespoons of brandy
1 large cooking apple grated
zest and juice of an orange and lemon
150g muscovado sugar
some freshly grated nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
Mix all the ingredients with the melted butter and cover. Leave in a large bowl overnight somewhere cool. Next day spoon into clean jam jars and cover tightly.
If you don't like a particular ingredient leave it out or substitute with something else.
This quantity will give you 3-4 large (500g) jars, enough to keep a couple for next year.
Using a sweet shortcrust pastry, cut out discs of pastry and fill with some mincemeat, cover with another disc. Dip your finger into a bowl of water and run it around the inside perimeter of the top disc. This helps seal the pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven at 180 deg until browned. Cool and dust with icing sugar.