She is also a fantastic cook and avid canner – we connect on many levels! I feel honored that she is sharing this English holiday tradition with me and that I can share it with all of you – thank you Jeni!
I’m a traditionalist at Christmas.
My family cooking is rich with tradition and my sister and I have long international calls talking about what we are preparing and how the Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies are coming along. So many traditional dishes have been handed down from my grandmother.
I start my baking at least 4 weeks before Christmas as the cake and pudding have to be made well in advance so they can be bathed in brandy for weeks before they are eaten.
These are my first batch of mince pies which I bake from scratch, I even make the mince that is the filling.
Mince was traditionally minced beef with fruit and spices to camouflage the flavor of rotten meat. But these days we leave out the beef and just use fruits.
In some mince recipes suet is used to keep the beef as part of the tradition. Suet is the fat rendered from the around the kidneys of the steer.
In my recipe I keep it all vegetarian, grated apple, raisins, cherries, cranberries, grated orange rind, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and of course brandy. The mince is cooked for about 40 mins then put in preserving jars. It will keep for up to a year (mine seldom hangs around that long!) in a cool place.
The pastry is from scratch – butter, a little rice flour and unbleached white flour with a little milk to glaze and some more brown sugar to top. Yummy!
use brandy to bind this all together and a little on top so that the
fruits will absorb the brandy as they cook. But if you want to have a
booze free mince I think that cider would work as well.. Remember most
of the alcohol will have been cooked out of it if you do use brandy…
all ingredients and put in a large pot, bring to a boil and then
simmer gently for about 40 mins. transfer the mince to dry, clean jam
jars and seal. Leave for as long as you can before using. I made mine a
week before I needed it, but it will keep for up to a year in the
refrigerator. This recipe makes about 3 to 4 pounds. I use one jar for
about 24 mince pies…. I’ve made two batches of mince this year so do
the math.. I’ve been a mince pie maniac for the last week!
Brush the tops of the pies with a little milk before you bake them.
small pies bake at 375 until the tops are brown, dust with brown sugar
when they come out of the oven and wait until they are cool before
removing them from the pan. The mince gets very hot in the oven during
cooking so avoid trying to eat them right out of the pan… Though it is