Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to everyone!
I hope you have had a wonderful season cooking and baking your Christmas favourites, as well as being inspired by some new recipes.
More importantly, I hope you are all enjoying this Christmas season in the company of good friends and family. Thank you so much for being a visitor to eat, little bird. This blog was started after several years of procrastination and perhaps intimidation by some amazing food blogs out there, but I am so happy to have bitten the bullet and to have met such wonderful foodie friends from all over the world. Thank you again for your company
I know I have previously mentioned that I am not a great fan of fruit mince. That still remains the case, but I cannot conceive a Christmas without fruit mince pies. I try to resolve this conundrum by either making fruit mince pies with really thick pastry and minimal filling, or just really, really tiny fruit mince pies. For the latter, I like to resort to Nigella’s tried and trusted recipe for Star-Topped Minced Pies from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
This year, I tried my hand at making the Cranberry-Studded Fruit Mince from Nigella Christmas. The cranberry fruit mince itself is quite quick and easy to make, provided that you have easy access to fresh or frozen cranberries where you live. The recipe starts by dissolving some sugar into some port, which instantly provokes the scent and aroma of mulled wine, something which I love and is indeed very Christmassy for me. There is no getting around the dried raisins and currants which are essential to fruit mince, but the cranberries provide a nice tart flavour to remind you that it is not all dried fruit. Though, the cranberries which I used were a bit too tart and I found that I had to add more honey than specified in the recipe to sweeten the mixture; in hindsight, I probably should have just added a tablespoon or two of caster sugar.
The pastry is something which I use every year for my fruit mince pies. It is easy to make and easy to work with. The pastry should ideally be kept cold before rolling out, otherwise it will shrink considerably upon baking.
I use a small tart tin which produces wee small fruit mince pies which are perfect for eating with one bite. They are perhaps a bit more fiddly to make but I find the pastry to fruit mince ratio perfect
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season with lots of love, joy and good food!
- For the pastry:
- 240g (1⅔ cup) plain flour
- 60g (5 tablespoons) vegetable shortening or lard
- 60g (5 tablespoons or ½ stick) cold butter, diced
- juice of 1 orange
- pinch of salt
- For the cranberry-studded mincemeat:
- 60ml (1/4 cup) port
- 75g (1/2 cup) dark muscovado sugar
- 340g fresh cranberries
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 150g (1 cup) dark raisins
- 30g (1/4 cup) dried cranberries
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 25ml (2 tablespoons) dark rum
- 2 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
- To make the pastry, measure the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer and dollop the vegetable shortening and butter into the flour. Using the flat paddle attachement, beat on low speed until the shortening and butter are incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Place the bowl into the fridge or freezer for about 20 minutes. If you live somewhere really cold in winter like I do, I just simply place the bowl outside on the balcony.
- Dissolve the salt into the orange juice. Slowly pour the juice into the flour mixture while beating on low speed. Add just enough juice to bring the mixture together into a ball of dough. If you add too much juice, you might need to add some more flour. If you need more liquid, add some iced water.
- Lightly knead the dough into a soft ball, divide into three portions, and wrap each portion in cling film. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
- To make the fruit mince, dissolve the sugar in the port in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cranberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, raisins, dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the orange. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture has broken down and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir through the rum and honey. Taste and see if you need to add more honey to taste. Leave to cool completely. If you are storing the mincemeat, spoon the mixture into sterilised jars.
- To make the mince pies, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
- Roll out a disc of pastry until it is quite thin. Use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds to fit a mini muffin tin or mini tart tin. Line the tins with the pastry and fill each pastry cup with some fruit mince.
- Re-roll the pastry as needed to cut out stars (or other shapes) which will fit as lids on top of each pastry cup.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they are lightly golden. Remove the cooked mince pies to a wire rack and let the tin cool down completely before you make the next batch.
- Serve the fruit mince pies warm or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar.
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If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird