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Sunday, 17 November 2013

CHRISTMAS "TO DO LIST" ~ MINCE PIES

Good Morning to you,


The little red ticks are growing on my Christmas "To Do List" and my  list  of "Things To Do", is getting shorter and shorter, which gives me great satisfaction. I think I have told you before that I am a lover of lists.... it keeps me on the straight and narrow, because I can be easily  diverted into doing something else and not the thing I should be doing..... so lists will always be a part of my life.

So far I have made,


Christmas Cake baked .... tick



Christmas Cake fed with brandy each week .... tick

Each time I unwrap the cake,  Christmas hits my senses
 .... and do you know what else,
George  says, that  each time he gets a sniff of the cake
 it gets harder and harder not to grab
a knife and cut a slice.

I have to tell you, the cake is safe during the week,
but the risky time is when we go to Sadie's  
to
feed the cake with brandy.....
then, I am on "high alert".



Pickled onions made and stored .... tick



Christmas Pudding made .... tick

The Christmas pudding is safe from George
as it needs to be steamed before
it is ready to be eaten.... so this I keep at home.

Mince Pies .... are being made today .... tick 

..... and I have to tell you I love warm Mince Pies drizzled with cream.... or brandy cream..... just delicious... take a look,


don't they look fabulous.  I think they are extra special, because they are traditionally, eaten and enjoyed, only at Christmas time. 

So, firstly, I need to put on  my apron and then choose the music. Now, I could not decide whether I should listen, to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra or Perry Como, 


but it was Nat King Cole who won. It is always a treat to listen to Nat King Cole singing with his wonderful velvety voice.  Although this is a Christmas album, "Unforgettable" has been included ..... and how fabulous is that, as it is the most beautiful song.

If you are ready, I will list the ingredients you will need to make these Mince Pies.

INGREDIENTS

Pastry

275g plain flour
75g icing sugar
175g butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of cold water

THE FILLING


1 x 450g jar of  Robertson's Mincemeat
or mincemeat of your choice

THE METHOD


Oven temperature:   180C
This amount of pastry and mincemeat
will make 24 Mince Pies


1 x 12 holed patty tin,
buttered and dusted with flour


1 large pastry cutter for the base
and
1 small pastry cutter for the top



Using a large bowl,
sift together the,
flour, icing sugar and salt


Dice the butter and rub into the flour mixture,
until it resembles small breadcrumbs.


Add the egg
and
1 tablespoonful of water
and mix.
If needed, add the second tablespoonful of water
and mix until the mixture binds together.

Gently knead the pastry until it is nice and smooth.


Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes


When the pastry has chilled, remove  the cling film
and roll out the pastry onto a floured surface.

Using the large pastry cutter, cut out 12 large rounds for the base
of the mince pies
and
place in the patty tins.


Place about 2 teaspoonfuls of mincemeat
into each of the pastry shells.
Don't overload the pastry shells with mincemeat
as when baked, the liquid will overflow too much.
Although I have to tell you, that in all my years of
baking these little mince pies, there is always a 
little overflow of liquid.


Then cut out 12 smaller pieces of pastry to
use for the mince pie lids.

Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill,

then remove from the fridge

and

brush with either an egg wash or milk

and 

sprinkle with caster sugar

Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes
or until the mince pies are golden brown.


When the mince pies are baked, I wait a couple of minutes
 before I remove them from the patty tin,
but please, do be careful, because
the mincemeat will be very hot.

Place the mince pies on a  wire rack to cool.

The reason I remove them from the patty tins so quickly
is that as the sugar content in the mince meat cools, 
 it becomes
sticky and if left to go cold, it will
make it more difficult to remove the mince pies from
the patty tin.

Sprinkle with a nice dusting of icing sugar
and eat them warm
with 
cream
or 
brandy cream.


Now here's a thing, have you ever noticed, that when using pastry, there is always some left over.  As a rule, I roll the left over pastry into a ball and place it into a freezer bag and pop it into the freezer, to use for another time. 

BUT,

out of the blue, a memory popped into my mind.  It was really strange, because I had not thought about this, for many, many years, but when I was ready to roll the pastry into a ball, I suddenly remembered what Phyllis used to do with the left over pastry.... she would make a mincemeat turnover for my father.


She would re-roll the left over pastry, find a suitably sized plate and place the plate onto the pastry.  She would then cut around the plate and remove the tiny pieces of pastry which were left over. Phyllis would then place the mincemeat into the centre of the round of pastry, brush the edges with milk and turn the pastry over, to make a half round, and then she would seal the edges with a fork. With the little pieces of left over pastry she would make small leaves and place them on the turnover.  The pastry would be egg washed or washed with milk..... having said that, I think I am wrong, I seem to remember the pastry was washed with milk, as to use an egg would have been considered wasteful.  The turnover was then baked in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes, and,


then sprinkled with icing sugar and there you have it, nothing wasted, and my father had a large turnover to enjoy. She would do the same thing if she was making jam tarts or apple tarts.... my father would always enjoy a large jam turnover or a large apple turnover, when Phyllis baked small tarts for us children.

My father always loved mince pies at Christmas time, and he loved eating them with lots of filling, but the pastry had to be very thin, almost wafer like and I have to tell you, that was a difficult thing to accomplish, as if too much mincemeat was added to the pastry, then the pastry became soggy.... but over the years, I managed to find a happy medium.

You will have noticed, that I mentioned, that the pastry would make 24 mince pies, but I have only made 12.  The reason for this is, I only have one patty tin, so I bake 12 at a time, but this time, with the second batch of 12, I wanted to freeze and not bake them.  

For the second batch, I went as far as placing the lids on the mince pies, but I did not wash with milk or sprinkle with caster sugar.  I left the mince pies in the patty tin, then I placed the tin and mince pies into my large freezer.  I open froze them, and then I carefully placed the mince pies into Tupperware containers (oh yes, I still own Tupperware) and put them back into the freezer.  On Christmas Eve, I will take the mince pies out of the freezer, place them back into the patty tins, brush with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar, then I will bake them in the oven and they will be just perfect to enjoy on Christmas Eve with a glass of mulled wine. 

Before I go, I just wanted to mention that you will have noticed that I used a jar of mincemeat, for my mince pies.  For years, I made my own mincemeat, which is easy to do, and if you are interested, let me know and I will share Ivy's recipe.  This year I decided to give making my own, a miss, as I have a number of projects I need to get finished before Christmas..... so I decided to take a short cut this year and I am pleased with the results.

Oh yes, George has sampled a mince pie..... you knew he would, didn't you... and he enjoyed it immensely. 

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I will be joining,


and






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