If eating a fruit mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas brings wealth and prosperity, according to folklore, then i’m well on track to be a multi-millionaire in 2011. I’ve become hooked on my first ever Mince Pies, so it’s fortunate that the Margaret Fulton recipe I used made in excess of 60 of them. Gosh, eating my way through them will be a chore but I consider it a worthy financial investment of sorts, yes?
So how have I gone so long without the Fruit Mince Pie in my life? Well, they didn’t figure much into our Christmas family tradition. Lunch at Nanna’s house usually involves enough ravioli to feed an army, pasta fagioli, a giant hunk of ham, meat and cheese platters and loads of crusty bread. Why yes, we are Italian, how did you know?
With a steady diet of Panettone, Panforte and Tiramisu around Christmas, I didn’t care much for the Fruit Mince Pie. And neither did some folk in the 18th Century, where these delicious innocent treats were deemed an “Invention of the Scarlet Whore of Babylon, an Hodge-Podge of Superstition, Popery, the Devil and all his Works” and were once banned. I know there’s a few calories in them, but sheesh, that’s a little extreme guys.
Now I’m chuffed to have made my own Mince Pies for the first time. These have a crumbly crust with a boozy spiced fruit filling. Leaving the raisins, currants and sultanas to soak for at least two days in a broth of brandy, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter gives the insides a lovely festive flavour.
The pies can be cooked in advance, frozen, then left to defrost, which makes them perfect for making in large batches for all those parties and lunches you have to attend. Bonus: it also means you can have a little Christmas all year round if you’re good at self control.
They can make sweet little gifts too, depending on how crafty you want to get. I just individually wrapped the Fruit Mince Pies in clear confectionary bags and tied them with a little curling ribbon to give them away. (I’m no Martha Stewart, clearly).
So guys, what’s making an appearance on your Christmas tables this year?
FRUIT MINCE PIE RECIPE
Recipe adapted from Margaret Fulton
You’ll need to start by making the fruit mince at least 2 days in advance. The fruit mince recipe makes enough for 60+ pies. Can store in the fridge and make each batch fresh as you need them.
375g box of Raisins
350g box of Currants
500g box of Sultanas
110g packet of Blanched Almonds, finely chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
150g Unsalted Butter, melted
3/4 cup Brandy or rum
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves or Allspice
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges, and their juice (approx 300ml)
Pastry: makes approximately 24 cases
2 cups Plain Flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
185g Unsalted butter, grated
1/4 cup Caster Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1-2 tablespoons Lemon Juice or cold water
1 cup of Fruit Mince (see below for recipe)
1 Egg White, lightly beaten
Icing sugar, to dust
Round cookie cutter or drinking glass, around 65-68mm diameter
12 hole muffin tin
Small star-shaped cookie cutter (optional)
Food processor – will help chop all the fruit faster (optional)
Small offset spatula or blunt butter knife (will help lift the dough from the paper)
Start making the fruit mince filling at least two days early. Coarsely chop the sultanas, currant and raisins. If you have a food processor, pulse the fruit in small batches, otherwise you need to go to town with a chopping board and knife. Add the fruit into a large container along with the grated apple, chopped almonds, melted butter, brandy, orange juice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir well until all combined, pop on the lid and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least two days (the longer the better). Just stir the fruit mince every couple of days until needed.
To make the pastry shells, add the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Grate the butter over the top and rub it in using your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. (I found that I needed a little more flour than the 2 cups recommended in the recipe). Stir in the sugar and egg yolks. If the mixture is still crumbly, add enough lemon juice or water to form a dough. Knead the dough together until smooth, split into two discs and cover them in plastic wrap. Let them chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before use.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Grease the muffin tin with non-stick spray. Cut 12 strips of baking paper and line each hole with one so that you have two little paper wings sticking up like below. This will save your poor little mince pies from getting stuck when you try to remove them.
Re-knead the dough, then roll it out between two sheets of baking paper until 35mm thick. Try to get the dough nice and thin. Cut rounds of dough and press into each hole. If the rounds aren’t coming away cleanly from the paper, your dough will need a little more flour kneaded in. Fill each to the top with fruit mince, being careful not to get any fruit on the sides of the tin (they’ll get stuck!).
Reknead the scraps and cut 12 small stars. Place one on the top of the fruit mince and brush with egg white. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Leave to cool completely in the pans before attempting to remove, as the pastry is crumbly and delicate when warm. Decorate with a dusting of icing sugar when ready to serve.