Still a bit early but it’s not too soon to practice some Christmas treats. These mince pies must be nearly calorie-free being so very tiny and encased in just a wisp of pastry. How could anyone refuse
I’ve been experimenting with a different pastry: sweet and spiced hot water crust. Usually this is reserved for pork or game pies but I’ve found it very flexible for many different uses.
This quantity made 24 very small pies and even enough to make tops for four. The rest were given a crumble topping. I used homemade mincemeat made with our own apples but shop-bought would work just as well – perhaps with some added orange zest, chopped apple and a splash of brandy to make it your own.
Thumbs up for this version: pastry could be pressed very thin to contrast with the succulent filling, crisp with a little bite and easy to extract from the tin. Ideal pastry for blind people as minimum mess with no floury rolling out – and good for children too.
200g plain flour
50g strong white bread flour
1 rounded teaspoon ground mixed spice
Half teaspoon salt
Melt the lard, water and sugar until everything has dissolved and allow to cool a little.
Meanwhile, rub the butter in to the flours, spices and salt.
Pour the liquid mix in to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well to combine, first with a wooden spoon and then your hands.
Roll small pieces of the dough in to balls and press in to the tin, over the bottom and up the sides of each hole.
Trim the excess pastry from each pie and reform the scraps to fill every hole, using anything left over to make lids.
Fill the mini-pies with mincemeat – not too much as it may run over in the oven.
Top with lids, re-trimming as necessary, or with a few tablespoons of crumble mix.
Chil the tray in the fridge for an hour or so.
Cook at Gas 4 for 10 minutes and then at Gas 2 for a further 15 minutes.
Dust the lidded pies with a little sugar and allow the whole tray to cool for at least 30 minutes before gently removing the pies.
I always have a bag of my standard crumble mix in the freezer. It uses a ratio of 1 each butter; crushed hazelnuts; soft brown sugar to 2 porridge oats. Excellent on top of cooking apples and some more of the mincemeat – and no more sugar needed.