As you’ve probably seen me write about quite alot already in my blog posts me and my family are quite the keen bakers, i am no way saying we’re any good at it because half the time we completely give up on the recipe and create our own style or just go by hand. I mean we like to be creative with the things we make so often we will add different sorts of flavors in the recipe to see if it makes any different or whether the taste is something we like or dislike.
Something we do make every year is of course mince pies which is odd in our house as we dont make them until Christmas eve this meaning we dont usually eat them over the December period and plus my dad isn’t keen on mince pies anyway. However we still make them every year and we always go overboard so there is always enough to go around.
We make the pastry from scratch, our pastry of choice being sweet pastry as thats just something we prefer. We use an old recipe book that has been in our family for quite a while ‘Classic Cakes by Barbara Maher’ I found a link to buy it on Ebay! Click here to view it!
Now for sweet shortcrust pastry you are going to need:
- 6oz/170g Plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 4oz/110g butter, chilled and cubed
- 1oz/25g caster sugar
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 2 tablespoons of water (if needed)
Depending on how many we plan to make we usually double the ingredients just because it will take up less room in the fridge when it needs to be chilled plus we wont be mucking around making loads of different batches of pastry all day.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl; drop in the pieces of butter and using your fingertips lightly rub the butter with the flour until it becomes that of a bread crumb texture. Fork in the caster sugar, 1 egg and if the mixture seems too dry add in a tablespoon of the water. Lightly mix all the ingredients into a smooth pastry. If the pastry seems very dry add the remaining tablespoon of water. The texture of the pastry should be soft but should not be sticky. We have found that 90% of the time the water isn’t needed as the pastry is naturally quite sticky but with the kneading the pastry and adding abit extra flour it tends to become more of a soft dough.
If you dont know what kneading it, it is where you work with the pastry with the heel of your hand and you blend it by pushing it away from you, remember though it is always best to have a little flour on the side before you do this to prevent any sticking or any struggle getting it off.
Now this is where me and my dad makes everything a little different as in the book is says to wrap closely in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Now as we make double in one time and it usually takes up the half of the day we have free we put the lot in the fridge for the night as the very first year we tried it we felt like 30 minutes didn’t feel enough. Now we arent professionals in anyway we just go by what we feel is right at that time and this has worked for us for years.
Before you kneed the dough you can add extra flavours in it. Last year me and my dad experimented with cinnamon and honestly it tasted so much better with the mince pie filling and gave it that extra little kick of Christmas it was great! I must advice though as cinnamon can be quite strong start with little amounts and build up.
As all this preparation is made on the day before Christmas eve it means when Christmas eve comes we are able to get straight to the baking.
For the mince pies we dont really make the filling from scratch usually because its much easier to buy jars of it plus we dont really have a recipe that we could use. We buy at least 4 big jars of the filling mainly because my brother is an absolute pig. Lets leave that sentence there.
So whilst my mum and usually my brother as even though he doesn’t live with us anymore he still comes down for the Christmas period, go out and buy the fresh fruit etc that we need for Christmas day me and my dad basically convert the dining room into an extra kitchen. As he uses cutters to measure out the pastry or even last time he had to use the top of our sugar tin as there wasn’t a cutter big enough for what we needed. So whilst he cut out the pastry i buttered the cupcake tins we use so they wouldn’t stick and then wold proceed to open the mince jars and put roughly 1 and a half table spoons in. We did this for every one then eventually once they were all filled we cut the lids out and just simply used an egg brush to put water around the edges to help the lid stick.
To cook them we simply put them on 190 for 10 minutes then we turn the tray around and cook for a further 10 minutes. Then ENJOY.
Dont forget to follow my blog as every day up until Christmas i will be posting a blog post!!
Have a good day
December 1st: 24 Days Leading Up To Christmas
December 2nd: Giving At Christmas
December 3rd: Santa Claus was in my living room?
December 4th: Anxiety at Christmas…
December 5th: Christmas Decorating…