Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Mince Pies and a Christmas Afternoon Tea
Oh mince pie, how I love thee. I have made them quite a few times - Nigella's standard star-topped, her frangipane mince pies (both in mini and Bakewellian size), but this year I wanted something altogether more traditional. Something that tastes how you would imagine the picture on the Mr Kipling's boxes to taste.
Now, the ones I like the best have more of a buttery pastry than Nigella's (she uses a plain shortcrust), but for some reason I didn't think a pâte sablée would be quite right. The answer came in the Christmas issue of Delicious, with Rick Stein's mum's mince pie recipe. He describes them as having "the crispiest, richest shortcrust pastry". Sold!
The mince itself was made a couple of weeks in advance. I chose "Hettie Potter's suet free mincemeat" from How to be a Domestic Goddess. It contains, unsurprisingly, no suet, but many, many big chunks of apples, as well as dried and glacé fruits, almonds and brandy.
It needs to be cooked on a low heat until it looks and smells, well, like fruit mince!
I stored it in a dishwasher-sterilized jar for a couple of weeks, before making the mince pies themselves. We were having some olde English family friends over for arvo tea and I wanted to surprise them with my baked goods.
Rick Stein's pastry was, indeed, very buttery, and a little difficult to handle. I'm glad I employed the Nigella trick of flash-freezing the flour and cubed butter first!
I used a crimped cookie cutter to cut out the pastry to get the crispy edges, and sprinkled the tops with castor sugar.
There was enough pastry and mince to make 24, but I only made 12 - there is only so much seasonal excess one can take. (I speak as one just recovering from the seasonal mix of overindulgence and overwork).
In addition to the mince pies, I served petits sablés and Christmas Cake. And tea, of course!
I love the way they look like little coins!
And this is what the pies looked like on the inside...
The mince pies were easy to make, the pastry was buttery, short and crumbly. The olde English friends approved. Success!