Friday 9 December 2011

Home made mince pies – it’s so easy

Enjoy a homemade mince pie. 
Make a wish if it's the first of the season.

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 come to call. Mince pies made with homemade mincemeat taste so much more delicious.  I usually make mincemeat about 4 weeks before Christmas to allow it to mature.

Mincemeat is a mixture of dried fruits and apples. You can use vegetable suet or butter instead of meat based suet if you are vegetarian. The recipe is as easy as pie and you can adjust the sweetness by adding less sugar and let the natural flavours of the dried fruits come through together with the nutmeg and mixed spice. This mincemeat will keep for around 6 weeks. 

Grandma Abson’s Homemade Mincemeat 
1 lb apples peeled and chopped
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
Rind and juice of 1 orange
A little nutmeg
A little allspice or mixed spice
½ lb suet (I use vegetarian)
2 oz flaked almonds (optional)
12 oz demerara or soft brown sugar
1 lb stoned raisins
¾ lb currants
½ lb sultanas
¼ lb mixed peel
4-6 tbsps brandy (optional)

Mix all the ingredients except the brandy in a large bowl.     Cook in a cool oven on the lowest heat for a couple of hours 110-130C, Mark ¼ - ½ , 200-250F. Allow to cool and cover with a cloth. When cold, stir in the brandy and place in jars, cover with wax disc and label. Then it is ready for use.
My co blog writer, Patrick made homemade mincemeat this weekend : ‘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 just now, the scent of the fruit and nutmeg is beautiful....’
Meryl's tips for homemade mincemeat and mince pies:
1.    I make the pastry for mince pies to Grandma’s shortcrust recipe but you can substitute a little of the flour (approximately 2 oz or 50g) with ground almonds.
Shortcrust pastry
4 oz(110g) butter
8 oz (225g) plain flour
1 egg
A little water (or a little milk and water)

Rub the butter into the flour and salt. When the mixture is like breadcrumbs, make a well and add the egg. Add the water to make a dough. Let it stand for ½ hour in a cool place before rolling out.

2.    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.
3.    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 Waterstones in Leeds.  There were lots of appreciative comments about the mouth watering pastry and the 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 Waterstones Leeds
For another mouthwatering recipe using mincemeat, try Tarte Noel.

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