Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Countdown 5 : Mince pies

"Christmas Pie" by William Henry Hunt ...
My friends know all my weaknesses....  at one of the Christmas parties recently, a friend gave me twelve mince pies because she knows how much I love them. In Australia, mince  more often refers to meat and I wondered why these sweet pies were called "mince". What did we do before Wikipedia?
...A mince pie is a small  fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie traditionally served during the Christmas season. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European  crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices.
The early mince pie was known by several names, including  mutton pie, shrid pie and Christmas pie. Typically its ingredients were a mixture of minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Served around Christmas, the savoury Christmas pie (as it became known) was associated with supposed Catholic "idolatry" and during the  English Civil War was frowned on by the Puritan authorities. Nevertheless, the tradition of eating Christmas pie in December continued through to the Victorian era although by then its recipe had become sweeter and its size reduced markedly from the large oblong shape once observed. ... 
Today at a family Christmas gathering, we enjoyed mince pies,with the traditional filling of dried fruit and spices, but for the first time, a variation appeared - ginger and apple Christmas pies! No one commented, but I think a few wondered what happened to tradition... (that didn't stop us from eating and enjoying them very much!)  

My sister-in-law always cooked  fruit mince pies for the family gathering in the past but since she is not living in Australia, we sadly have resorted to shop made pies. I am not sure of the recipe but know that the fruit is soaked overnight in  the warmed butter, sugar and brandy mixture and the pastry is prepared with little kneading and rested so that it retains a biscuity, short  texture.
Here is a list of ingredients and the link to the recipe
Serves: 12 
·         250g raisins
·         250g sultanas
·         250g currants
·         65g mixed peel
·         125g butter, softened
·         250g peeled and finely chopped granny smith apples
·         250g brown sugar
·         grated rind of 1/2 lemon
·         grated rind of 1/2 orange
·         1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
·         pinch each of nutmeg and allspice
·         1 cup (250ml) brandy
·         For the Pastry
·         125g self raising flour
·         125g plain flour
·         125g butter
·         2 tablespoons icing sugar
·         1 egg yolk

·         3 tablespoons cold water

from Huffington Post
  ..... You can enjoy these mince pies cold, but I love mine warm, with custard ( or ice cream!) 

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