Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Fruit Mince Pies

by Jemma at Time for a Little Something

I'll be upfront. These little pies aren't really simple, frugal or green. I can't even claim they're healthy like most of the recipes I post here. But I hope you'll indulge me; they make a beautiful handmade Christmas gift. And 'tis the season after all.

I like to make these little pies at Christmas to give away, or to share with visiting family and friends. They really taste so much better than the store-bought variety, and as with anything you make yourself, it's nice to know all the ingredients going into what you eat.

This is my family's fruit mince recipe, and we have always used this Neenish Tart pastry recipe from the Edmonds cookbook. This cookbook is legendary here in New Zealand, I think just about every home has a copy. As a side note - if you have the time and inclination, it's a great idea to double the pastry recipe, and bake a few empty pie shells to pop away in your freezer. At some point in the future when you need to whip up an easy dessert or afternoon tea contribution, you can turn the pie shells into lemon tarts (filled with lemon curd and topped with a raspberry),
caramel tarts (filled with caramel and iced with chocolate icing), Neenish tarts (many filling
recipes available online), or jam tarts, etc. They will be ready in the matter of moments!

I hope you're enjoying the festive season, and I wish all readers a very merry Christmas, and a safe and happy New Year.

Fruit Mince
1 lemon, rind and juice
1 orange, rind
1 cup brown sugar
2 apples, cored and cut into large pieces (leave unpeeled)
2 cups sultanas
2 cups mixed fruit (use chopped dried fruit of your choice, or cake fruit mix)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp finely grated nutmeg (fresh is best, if you have it)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup rum, brandy or whiskey - or use orange juice if you prefer

Place the orange and lemon rind in a food processor with the brown sugar, and whiz until finely chopped and mixed. Add the apple, lemon juice, and half of the sultanas and mixed fruit. Whiz until the apple is finely chopped, then add the remaining sultanas and fruit, spices, salt and rum/brandy/whiskey/orange juice, and whiz again, just until everything is combined.

You can use this straight away for mince pies (see pastry recipe below), or refrigerate or even freeze for later use. There are other uses for fruit mince too - you can bake filo pastry parcels
filled with fruit mince for dessert. There are a few recipes out there for Christmas muffins, or you could make festive cinnamon buns or a wreath of bread with fruit mince spread through the dough.

Christmas Mince Pie Pastry
This recipe comes from the Edmonds Cookbook recipe for Neenish Tarts
Note: I doubled this recipe, and it made enough pastry for 4 dozen standard sized tart cases (half of those filled and topped with stars; the other half empty, lid-less and destined for my freezer; PLUS a dozen filled mini fruit mince pies).

125 g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Sift flour, baking powder and salt, and mix into the butter mixture, stirring well. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured board and knead well. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven the 180 (C). Lightly grease a couple of muffin tins - standard or mini size. Roll the pastry out to 2-3mm thick. Cut out rounds with the appropriate sized cutter, and gently line the muffin holes with pastry rounds. Prick the bases once or twice with a fork. If you're baking empty shells for future life as a Neenish tart, pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until cooked and light golden.

If you're making fruit mince pies, fill the uncooked, priced bases with fruit mince. Cut out small stars from the pastry and use them to top the mince pies - or cut out rounds to make lids, or strips to make lattice tops - whatever you like. The filled micne pies will take 20-25 mintues to bake.

Leave to cool a little in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!