Christmas is nearly here, ahhhhhh!! I am so excited, what about you guys? I really love Christmas, last year I spent my first Christmas with my boyfriend’s family and I was so excited that it was Christmas that I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep… Whoops! You’d think I was 12 not 22 right??
To be fair, my family are really into Christmas as well, I think December is dad’s favourite time of year because it’s his birthday AND Christmas! Plus, he gets to put up lights all around the house and light it up like a beacon, woooo! We’ve also had our Christmas tree up all month, so pretty…
In line with the Christmas spirit that’s been all around lately, today’s recipe is a traditional Christmas recipe that’s extremely popular in New Zealand, the UK and other Commonwealth countries this time of year: Christmas Mince Pies. For those who have never heard of them (AKA in the USA), they are a fruit mince pie and the embodiment of Christmas here. They are made from a sweet shortcrust pastry and filled with a spiced fruit mince, often topped with a pastry star instead of a lid because, well, Christmas!
This recipe is very near and dear to my heart, because it comes from my nana. I remember growing up, there would always be giant containers of Christmas Mince Pies at nana and granddad’s house whenever we were there for Christmas and I loved them. It’s just the way that your nana bakes and the fact that it’s always made with love that is hard to top, right? I knew I wanted to share this recipe with you guys because it’s one of those treasures that has been in the family for a long time and changed and tweaked until it’s the recipe that we use today. Did you know nana’s original recipe listed suet as an ingredient?? I didn’t even know what it was, I had to look it up!
Luckily now it’s just fruit and brandy basically, yum. If you’ve never had a fruit mince pie before, I would highly recommend this recipe, it’s pretty easy and yes it is fairly time consuming but everything could be made in advance and then just all put together on the day that you want to serve them if that’s more your style!
I can’t believe Christmas is this week! We’re going up to Tauranga in just a few days (sans the sister as she’s deserting us! ;)) and I’m so excited! As you can tell from the excessive exclamation marks… The weather is supposed to be amazing whilst we’re there and really warm and nice on Christmas Day which will be perfect for our usual barbecue and eat outside plan, which must sound really weird to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere right? Some of you will probably even get snow and we’ll be outside having a barbecue! Can you imagine doing all of your Christmas festivities in warm weather instead of cold? Last year with my boyfriend’s family we even went swimming at the beach because it was so hot, sooooo nice.
This year I’m really looking forward to seeing all of my extended family and hanging out with them, I haven’t seen nana and granddad since last year so yay excited for family! What are you guys most excited about this Christmas? Not gonna lie, also preeeeetty excited for the food. I’m pretty sure we’re not the only family who always has way too much food and so many choices that you end up sitting around in a food coma for the rest of the night, right??
Let me know in the comments how you’re planning on celebrating this year and if these mince pies will make it onto your Christmas table. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, see you on the other side! Happy baking!
- [b]Fruit Mince[/b]
- 1/2 cup sultanas
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dates
- 1/2 cup finely chopped prunes
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup mixed peel (or if you can’t find this, substitute with equal amounts coarsely grated lemon and orange rind)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
- 1 Grannysmith (green) apple, peeled and grated
- 1 tspn finely grated orange rind
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tspn cinnamon
- 1 tspn mixed spice
- 1/2 tspn ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup Grand Mariner/brandy/citrus flavoured liquor[br]
- [b]Shortcrust Pastry[/b]
- 1 3/4 cup (8oz) plain flour
- 1 tspn baking powder
- 115g (1 stick) cold butter
- 3 Tbspn caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 3-5 Tbspn iced water
- 1/2 tspn lemon juice
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the fruit mince ingredients, making sure everything is coated in the liquid. For a finer fruit mince, you can lightly pulse together in a food processor.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool dry area for at least 3 days and up to 1 year, making sure to stir every week that you don’t use it.[br]
- In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, salt, baking powder and caster sugar. Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolk to the food processor along with the lemon juice and 2 Tbspn of iced water.
- Pulse until the mixture starts to come together and add more water and continue pulsing until it starts to form a ball of dough around the center of the processor.
- Tip out onto a floured surface and the dough together and knead a couple of times until you have a soft ball of dough.
- Split the dough into thirds and wrap each third in clingfilm, leave in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to rest.
- Alternatively, here you could freeze the dough in the clingfilm until you’re ready to make the mince pies.
- Grease either two regular muffin tins (or a couple of patty pans if you have them, then you’ll have more smaller pies) very well and preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out two of the thirds into a large circle until it’s 1.5cm (1/2in) thick.
- Then, using a large circle cutter or glass (9-10cm, 3.5-4in, works best), cut out as many circles from the dough as possible and push them all in to line the muffin tins.
- Pull all the scraps together into a ball and roll this out into a circle again, same thickness, and again cut out as many circles as possible from the dough. Repeat this as many times as necessary to line all 24 cups of the muffin tins.
- Get your fruit mince container, and fill each pastry cup with 1 1/2 heaping Tbspn of the fruit mince. You will probably still have mince left over, so save this for next year!
- Roll out the last third of pastry to a circle also 1.5cm (1/2in) thick and this time cut out the tops using a star cutter, it should be big enough to reach the edges of the muffin cups.
- Top each pastry cup with the pastry star and repeat the gathering the scraps and rolling out the dough process until you have enough stars to top each muffin cup.
- If you have any pastry left over, you can freeze it.
- Put the pies in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
- If you can’t fit two trays in the oven then cook one after the other, don’t put them on separate racks or they won’t bake properly.
- Cool in tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out the pies onto the rack to cool completely.
- The Christmas Mince Pies will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container, make sure to heat in the microwave and have a little brandy cream on the side when you serve them!