Festive pieces at this time of year – my humble mince pie before had snow falling on top. This is one of my favourite festive snacks at all time. If you have no time making the mincemeat you could buying it from the supermarket too. I just loved mince pie very much as it is very festive pie. If you couldn’t find suet for the mincemeat, you could substitute it with frozen butter and grating in.
The mince pie dates back to the Middle Ages when as the word mincemeat suggest, it was a savoury dish. It emerged not as a confection or dessert, but as a way of preserving meat as winter drew in. Because of shortages of fodder, surplus livestocks were slaughtered in the late autumn. The meat was chopped up and cooked with spices and dried fruits, then sealed in a ‘coffin’ – an airtight pastry case. The resulting pies – which were large, not the small, snack-sized things that we’re familiar with – could then be used to feed hosts of people. particulary at the festive season. The earliest type, known as a chewtte, contained chopped meat or liver mixed with diced hard-boiled egg and ginger. Gradually the filling became enriched with dried fruit until, as time went on, it predominated and the meat was replaced with suet. By the sixteenth century, ‘minced’ pies as they were known had become a Christmas speciality. So much so that when Oliver Cromwell was banning Christmas celebrations in 1644 he specially abolished mince pie too. That particular law has never been repealed, so it is technically still illegal to eat mince pie at Christmas – which is great excuse to bear in mind if you’re feeling too full to eat another thing but you don’r want to hurt your mum’s feeling after she spent half the morning making them. You can’t have Christmas without mince pie. Merry Christmas to all my reader.
- 60ml ruby port
- 75g soft dark brown sugar
- 300g cranberries
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 75g currants
- 75g raisins
- 30g dried cranberries
- Finely grated zest & juice of 1 clementine
- 25ml brandy
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- few drops of almond extract
- 2 tbsp honey
- In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over gentle heat.
- Add the cranberries to saucepan.
- Then add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, with currants, raisins and dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementines.
- Simmer for 20 minutes or until everything looks pulpy and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. You may need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of the wooden spoon to incorporate them.
- Take off the heat and, when it has cooled a little, stir in the brandy, almond and vanilla extracts and honey and beat once more with your wooden spoon to encourage it to turn into berry-beaded paste.
- Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars.
Note: If you want to revert to a more traditional, still suet-free, mincemeat, replace the fresh cranberries with a small grated cooking apple and take out the dried cranberries, adding 15g each of currants and raisins.
Make ahead tip: Make the mincemeat and spoon into sterilized jars. Seal with jam pot covers or lid and store in a very cool, dry place for up to 1 month. (an extra splash of brandy on top at this stage helps prevent the mincemeat from going mouldy.) If you are using cranberries juice in place of port, store the mincemeat in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Classic Sweet Pastry
- 170g butter, softened
- 85g sugar
- 1 small egg
- 4 drops vanilla extract
- zest of half lemon
- 260g plain flour
- In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until a light creamy consistency.
- Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest and mix until combined.
- Add flour and mix to paste just until paste comes clean off the bowl. Be careful not to over mix or the pastry will become too elastic and doughy.
- Cover and wrap with cling film, refrigerate for 30 minutes or even better overnight.
- Before using, gently re-work pastry, taking care to ensure it remains cold and firm.
- Lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry into a sheet about 3mm thick.
- Using the round cutter whichever suit your tin, cut out 12 bases to line 1 muffin tin.
- Gently press pastry inside the muffin cups tp avoid any cracking around the bases.
- Using a star cutter to cut 12 lids.
- Fill the pastry about 2 teaspoons, (is tempting to fill in more mincemeat but never ever do that otherwise the pie is too heavy to turn out and the base might broken)
- Damp your finger with water or use pastry brush to damp the edge of the pastry, then you can place the star pastry on top filling, ensure the corner of the star is gently press down to glue with the edge of the pastry.
- Bake in preheat oven of 180ºC for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Sprinkle with caster sugar, if wished while the pie still hot. Allow to cool little, then remove from the tray and store in air tight container.