Friday, 9 December 2011

Home made mince pies – it’s so easy

Mince pies 
Trays of traditional homemade mince pies always bring back fond memories of Christmases past. In fact, it wouldn’t be Christmas without making a batch of mince pies to have in the house when family and friends call by. Mince pies made with homemade mincemeat taste so much more delicious. Mincemeat is actually a mixture of dried fruits and apples. You can use vegetable suet instead of meat based suet if you are vegetarian. I usually make mincemeat about 2-3 weeks before Christmas to allow it to mature.
My co blog writer, Patrick beat me to it this year last weekend when he made homemade mincemeat. He rang me to say: ‘It's Saturday night, yes, but I was totally in the mood to make this mincemeat from  Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking. This will become mince pies in a week or two. Can't wait, but for now the scent of the fruit and nutmeg is beautiful....’
The recipe is really simple and you can adjust the sweetness by adding less sugar (or none) and let the natural flavours of the dried fruits come through together with the nutmeg and mixed spice. This mincemeat will keep for around 3-4 weeks.

Grandma Abson’s Mincemeat recipe
1 ½ lb apples
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
A little salt
A little nutmeg
A little allspice or mixed spice
½ lb suet (I use vegetarian)
1 lb demerara sugar
1 lb stoned raisins
¾ lb currants
½ lb sultanas
¼ lb mixed peel
 “Peel and cut the apples into quarters. Add the rind and juice of the lemon, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Shred the suet and place in a stew jar in the oven until the apples are soft and the suet is melted. Then take out, stir in the sugar and other fruit. When cold, place in jars and it is ready for use.”
Homemade mincemeat
Meryl's Tips
1.     Cook in a cool oven on the lowest heat for a couple of hours 110-130C, Mark ¼ - ½ , 200-250F.
2.    You can cut the apples up into smaller chunks than Grandma suggests.
3.    I make the pastry to Grandma’s recipe but you can substitute a little of the flour (approximately 2 oz or 50g) with ground almonds.
4.    I like to decorate my mince pies with shapes –Stars, Christmas Trees and Bells. But it’s amazing to see how many people choose the ones with the traditional lid on top. Whatever you do, put plenty of mincemeat in the filling before you put the lid on. You can add a little brandy or any other spirit of your choice to the mincemeat for some real Christmas cheer.
5.    A final touch, if you do like a sweeter topping, sprinkle a little icing sugar over the top.
Mince pies ready for the oven 
Mince pies ready to enjoy!
I made mince pies and some of Grandma’s other delights for a book signing in Waterstone's, Leeds.  There were lots of appreciative comments about the mouth watering pastry and not too sweet mincemeat. For some people, it was their first one of the season, so a chance to make a Christmas wish!

Grandma Abson’s baking at Waterstone’s Leeds
Enjoy a homemade mince pie with homemade mincemeat – it’s so easy!

For another fantastic recipe using mincemeat, have a look at the Tarte Noel recipe

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