I wasn’t planning to make mince pies this year. One of my excuses was quite simple: I was in Malta about a month ago and didn’t have the time to prepare any mincemeat. But J said it’s not Christmas without them so we made them…yesterday. I had some store-bought mincemeat in the pantry which I got this week, but ready made mincemeat is not the same as when you do it yourself. Most of the time it’s too sweet; that’s because sugar is cheaper than fruit! I know many of you would agree here. However for convenience’s sake the ones you get at the store are a blessing in disguise for those, who like me, were lazy enough not to have made any. The end result was good though, so I’m not complaining. I’m just thankful my lovely husband was here to help. He’s a wonderful cook anyway.
We used a sweet pastry here; in Malta it’s known as tal-figolli, used traditionally at Eastertime. It’s moist and soft and bakes well. You will have enough for 12 little pies here. We did decide though on making 24 next time round. The pastry becomes quite wet but that’s nothing to be worried about.
Before I give you this recipe for the pastry (which makes 12 pies) I really would like to thank Chef James Tanner for taking the time from his busy schedule to answer all my kitchen queries this year and for his Twitter RTs. His Chocolate and Nut Brownies have become quite a hit in this house! So thank you Mr. Tanner.
I would also like to send my thanks to my family and all those who sent me questions and kind messages or commented on my blog. You make it all worthwhile. Last but not least, I would also like to thank J for testing all the recipes and giving me his honest feedback on every one. Thank you! So here we go:
- 240g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 60g butter, unsalted
- 60g vegetable shortening/vegetable fat (Trex in the UK)
- 90g sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 410g mincemeat (approx. 2 teaspoons filling for each pie)
- Preheat the oven at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder, add the sugar, and rub the butter completely into the flour until you get a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the beaten egg, lemon zest and juice, and the vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and mix everything well using your hands. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for about 40 minutes. This will make it crunchy later and easier to handle when rolling it out.
- Roll out the pastry and use a cookie cutter slightly larger than the size of your moulds. Grease the moulds well and fit a pastry circle in each mould. Put approximately 2 teaspoons of mincemeat in each pastry case and top each pie with smaller size pastry circles. You could top them with any shape you like really…stars, criss-cross etc.
- Brush the tops with a mixture of half a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in a few drops of water, and use a sharp knife to cut a small cross on each top, to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the oven!!
- Bake for around 20 to 25 minutes until the little babies turn nice and golden. Once cooled you can sprinkle them with some icing sugar. Your call.Enjoy and Happy Christmas to all!
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