Saturday, 22 December 2012

Mince-pie Day

We made mince pies

Well, obviously we made mince pies, it's that time of year after all.
This is basically a Nigella lawson recipe, with a few alterations*.


240g plain flour
60g Trex-type vegetable fat
60g Butter cut into small cubes
An orange or so
A teeny pinch of salt
Icing sugar
Mincemeat (normally I'd make my own, that being half the point of these pies, however this year, for several reasons, that did not happen)

Put the flour into a big bowl, throw in the cubes of butter, and stir them around a little so they get covered in flour.

Take little blobs of the Trex (or whatever fat you're using) and flick them into the flour bowl too.
Keep going till you run out of Trex, then stir the bowl again until everything is floured.

Now put the bowl in the freezer.
Alternatively, if you live on planet Earth and your freezer is full of food, put it somewhere very cold and surround it with ice cubes.
Traditionally we would put it in our freezing-cold annexe, however, as the annexe isn't actually freezing cold this year, we settled for building an ice-cube igloo around the bowl.

Leave the bowl there for an hour or so and go and talk about global warming, make paper chains, or watch the Muppets Christmas Carol, while it becomes very, very cold.

Squeeze an orange into a cup or jug, add a little salt and put this into your fridge, or, if the fridge is full too, stick it next to the bowl of flour.

Complain bitterly about recipes that assume you own a food processor**

Fetch the bowl of flour and fats, and very quickly rub the fat into the flour to produce a breadcrumbly mess***

Now pour in the salty orange juice, stir it in, then use your hands to bring the whole mess together.
If you need more liquid squeeze another half orange, but only add as much as you absolutely have to.

Make the dough into two balls, stick them in the fridge****.

Now go and sing some carols for a while.
If you have snow, make a snowman.
Also, know that I hate you.

Turn on the oven to a high pie-setting (The original recipe suggests 220).

Now roll out ball of dough number one and cut out as many circles as you can.
You should be able to fill at least one and a half fairy-cake trays*****, but you may need to reroll it a little.
Make sure the circles are big enough to fill the indentations in the trays: they don't need to be big, but they do need to reach the sides******.

Use the left over pastry to cut out little stars, or other fiddly decorative things, to go on top of the pies.

Now repeat this with the other ball until you have filled two trays with little circles.
Leave the rest of the dough for later.

Put a blob of mincemeat onto each circle of pastry and top with a star
Put the pies into the oven for ten minutes.

Meanwhile roll and cut out as many circles and stars as you can manage, ready for the next batch.

As soon as the pies are ready, take them out of the trays and leave them to cool.

The minute the trays are cool, put in the next batch of pies and cook as before.

Once everything's out, sprinkle them with a little icing sugar.
A little.
At least try not to get it absolutely everywhere.

Let them cool.

Eat one.
Save the rest.

Or you could just make more.
You probably have some mincemeat left over, after all.

*And a lot of sarcasm.

**This invocation to the domestic gods is obligatory, even if you do, in fact, own a food processor.
It's not as if the writers could see into your kitchen after all.
Or is it?

***If you own a food-processor you could do this the easy way.
The laws of cosy Yuletide baking, demand otherwise however.

****Or, you know, somewhere that actually has room for two balls of dough.
Somewhere cold though.

*****If you don't have trays with little indentations in them you could probably get away with using fairy-cake cases.
The pies might come out a little crinkly round the edges though.

******Ours do not reach the sides.

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