Mince pies, not just for Christmas…

mincepies.jpgAlthough a staple for Christmas snacking and parties the mince pie is a handy lunch box option. Packed with fruit and sugar it provides a quick boost. Or served hot with a dollop of clotted cream it is a quick and luscious treat after a bracing Autumnal walk.

Ingredients (makes 12)
225g plain flour
115g butter
50g caster sugar
10ml almond essence*
1 medium egg
280g mincemeat
a dash of milk

* I use almond essence instead of water to give this sweet pastry an extra smooth taste.
Four key tips for good pastry – keep it cool; handle it as little as possible; be sparing with the fluid and practice often.
  1. Sieve the flour and sugar into a food processor.
  2. Add the cubed butter and blend to a bread crumb consistency.
  3. Add the beaten egg and almond essence and pulse blend until it forms a dough ball.
  4. Turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface and form into a flat disc approximately 15cm round and 2cm deep.
  5. Wrap in cling film and chill in a fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Remove pastry from fridge, and leave wrapped for five minutes at room temperature.
  7. Preheat oven to 190c (fan oven) and grease the pie tin with a little butter.
  8. Flour the working surface and rolling pin.
  9. Unwrap the pastry and roll to required thickness, around 3mm.
  10. Cut out 12 bottoms and tops (my pie tin uses two different sizes 7cm for the base and sides, 5cm for the tops)
  11. Line the pie tin with bases.
  12. Fill with a generous dollop of mincemeat.
  13. Brush the edges of the pastry with milk and add the lid, pressing down the edges with your finger tips.
  14. Once all 12 lids on are on brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
  15. Using the point of a sharp knife pierce the lids 3/4 times, to let the steam out during baking.
  16. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden.
  17. Leave to stand in the pie tin for five minutes before turning out on to a wire cooling rack.

Serve hot with a dollop of clotted or double cream, crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt.

For something that looks a little different prepare open topped single person tarts (3-4 inches across) finish with a pastry lattice or just a small circle or star of pastry for the middle, sprinkle with icing sugar when cool for a lush looking dessert.

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