Serves: 16 -26 (*Dependant on the pastry.)
Prep & Chilling Time: 40-45 mins
Tools: Manual juicer, grater, food processor, kitchen scale, measuring jug, silicone spatula, kitchen film, pot w/lid, wooden spoon, rolling pin, muffin tins, cooling rack
Here’s another great Christmas recipe that you can make in advance- mince pies! Tick them off your holiday check-list early this year; bake, freeze, defrost and reheat them over the xmas holidays! In fact, they might even last a tad bit longer; they take about thirty minutes to defrost, so that may help to defer all the ‘little elves’ from munching through them so quickly!
When we make ours, we always create our own shortcrust pastry, especially with ground almonds and almond extract (so delicious!), but we’ve never taken the time to make the filling, silly eh? We always succumb to the convenience of prefabricated jars of mincemeat which are just far too sweet and always make you regret eating it! So this year we stopped being silly and made our own; if we only knew how easy it was we would have started this tradition ages ago!
With the aim of reducing the overall ‘added sugar’ content in these beauties, we opted to omit the sugar from the pastry completely…and keeping with the Christmas theme, substituted it with an orange juice mixture. However, we have added sugar to the list of ingredients, so the choice is yours. Our pastry uses standard vegan margarine; if you are after a flakier/gluten free pastry, try using come vegetable shortening/fat (as you’ll need about twenty percent less than margarine), a mixture of both or even some odourless coconut oil, but just be mindful of the saturated fat!
Our filling, well it’s quite red, but that because there is a lot of cranberries! You can use less and/or substitute for another fruit(s) (cherries and red currents would be nice), or more dried fruit instead. The great thing about using cranberries is that they are relatively cheap and help to offset some of the sweetness of the dried fruit and sugars!
We have tried to mimic our favourite Christmas-y/brand name mince pie flavours; the wine was added on a whim as we were originally going to add juice (you can thank the supermarket sales for that gem!). If you don’t fancy wine, try substituting it for some fresh orange, apple or pomegranate juice, plain water, or dietary preferences depending, mulled wine, brandy and/or port- just adjust the quantities to your own personal taste and potency!
*One top thing to note is that our filling makes enough for about twenty-six pies (the cooked weight yields 700g!), but our pastry only stretches into sixteen! So you can: increase the pastry mixture, slightly reduce the filling mixture or save and bottle the remaining mince pie filling in a sterilised bottle.
Overall these little pies were lovely and nothing quite beats making your homemade shortcrust pastry and filling! If you’re a fan of these delicious morsels, you should really try giving it a whirl! It’s time consuming (well a little), but not too difficult. Just crank up the festive tunes and imagine how good your house will smell with the aroma of fresh, buttery, hot out of the oven shortcrust pastry and wafts of spiced and boozy fruit! Delicious!
Make sure to keep watching this space for more delicious/festive recipes next week!
Have a great weekend and happy baking everyone! 😀
Need an easy-print recipe? Print here 🙂
Wash the orange, grate the zest and then juice it (reserve the zest for the filling later on). Place the juice, almond extract, ¼ tsp salt and 2 tsp of unrefined cane sugar (if desired) into a large measuring jug. Mix together, dissolving the salt and sugar.
Place the margarine, flour, ground almonds and xanthan gum into a food processor (or large mixing bowl if you do not own one). Pulse until the texture is similar to fine breadcrumbs and comes together. Tip: Alternatively mix the mixture with your hands or a large fork until the same texture is produced. Pour the orange juice mixture into the food processor. Process until combined; the mixture will be quite chunky, but not dry (if yours is dry add 1-2 tsp of cold water). Tip: You will have to use a spatula to help remove some of the mixture from the sides of the container as you process it, back down into the centre as it has a tendency to ‘bunch up’.
Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide it into three portions. Roll into balls. Place each ball onto a sheet of kitchen film; wrap and seal. Flatten each ball into a disc. Transfer into the fridge and refrigerate for 30 mins. Tip: Refrigerating the dough will help make it ‘firmer’ and easier to work with.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Wash the cranberries in a colander. Wash, peel, remove the core and then dice the apple. Juice the satsuma.
Next, place a non-stick pot over a medium-low heat. Add the wine and sugar. Stir together. It will start to simmer quite quickly, when this happens add the cranberries, apple, satsuma juice, dried fruit, orange zest, spices, sweetener, vanilla paste and almond (or lemon) extract into the pot. Stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid. Cook for 20 mins, allowing the flavours to meld, the cranberries to burst and soften and the mixture to slightly thicken. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Leave the lid ajar and allow it to cool.
Meanwhile, grease or line a mince pie or standard muffin tin with a little oil or margarine or a liner. On a clean, floured surface place one disc of pastry (leave the remaining pastry in the fridge until you are ready to use it). Gently knead and soften it with your hands for a minute. Roll it out to a ¼ cm thickness. Use a small tumbler or something suitable for the size of your tin to stamp out 16 discs. Tip: Measure the top of your tin with a small glass to make sure it is not too big or too small; it should be roughly the same size as the tin.
Gently press each pastry disc between your fingers (slightly stretching it) before placing it into the base of the tin. Gently press and shape it into the base. Tip: Use a little pastry to patch up any tears of holes that might appear (this is OK!). Repeat until all sixteen discs have been placed.
Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Roll out the remaining dough to a 1/8cm thickness and then cut out the shapes to top your pies- we opted for modern stars!
Fill ease pie case with about 1 heaped dessert teaspoon of pie filling. Place the top shape over the filling. Gently press and seal the edges. Tip: If you are completely covering the top of your pies, pierce it with a fork a few times to allow the steam to escape whilst it’s baking!
Place the tin onto the middle oven shelf. Bake for 12-16 mins or until lightly browned around the edges and firm. Remove and transfer onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly before eating. NB: We cooked ours for 18 mins- but this was too long (the pastry was a little hard… but it’s nothing that a little oat cream won’t fix)! We’ll try 13-15 mins next time and then leave the pies in the tins for 3-5 mins once they’re removed from the oven.
Store in an air-tight and resealable container and consume within one week. Alternatively, wrap and store them in an air-tight and resealable container; defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.