EASY AS PIE

December 21, 2015

Star-Topped Mince Pies

there's only four more sleeps 'til Christmas, but I'm not counting... The smell of pine and wood fires, the feeling of cosy knitted socks and the sound of sprightly festive tunes played on many a repetition can only mean one thing: Christmas is here. And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the taste of warming mulled wine, sparkling prosecco and a copious amount of mince pies. I kid you not when I say you can't just eat one of these. And Santa might want a little more left at the bottom of the chimney this year; after all, he's travelled all this way. 

This is by far, my absolute favourite recipe. Though I'm intrigued to try new and unusual variations on the classic mince pie (frangipane is my next adventure), Nigella's recipe wins hands down. Less is definitely more and when you have the most crumbly, mouth-watering, Christmassy bitesize mouthful to devour, there needn't be a thickly clad coat of pastry and a bubbling dam-bursting overflow of sweet mincemeat inside. Go gently and you'll be rewarded. 

With the last minute panic of Christmas shopping and food planning galore, decorations and a flurry of cards through the letterbox, it can be overwhelming to even consider home-baking mince pies. However, there's certainly no excuse for not having mince pies over the festive season (don't you dare buy store-bought varieties, it is a crime against Christmas!!) and this recipe will not only put you in jubilant spirit, but it can be done in a matter of minutes (ok, maybe a little longer) if you purchase some good-quality mincemeat as opposed to making your own. It's by far the best thing to indulge in over the holidays. 


Star-Topped Mince Pies

For the pastry
240g plain flour
60g vegetable shortening
60g unsalted butter
Juice of 1 orange
Pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
350g good-quality mincemeat
Icing sugar to dust

1. Measure the flour into a large deep bowl and make a well.
2. Dollop little mounds of vegetable shortening (I use Trex) and the butter, diced into the bowl, shake and place in the freezer for 20mins. 
3. Mix together the juice of one orange and a pinch of salt.
4. Once the flour and butter have spent their time in the freezer, empty the contents into a food processor and pulse until you have a porridge-like or breadcrumb consistency. 
5. Pour the orange juice through the funnel whilst pulsing, adding a little at a time until the dough just comes together. You do not want to overwork it. 
6. Turn the pastry out of the processor and divide into 3 flat rounds, then place in the fridge to rest for another 20mins. 
7. Now preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 5. 
8. Roll out the discs - you want a light but sturdy pastry base so be sure to roll enough, but not super thin!
9. Cut out fluted rounds of pastry and place into a mini muffin tin. Fill each pie with a teaspoon of mincemeat and then topped with a pastry star. 
10. Place in the oven for 10-15mins (keep an eye on them as they will go golden quickly). You may have to do this in a number of batches.
11. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin before turning out to cool completely.
12. Once cool, dust generously with icing sugar.

N.B. You can also whisk up an egg if you prefer a shiny golden glaze to a matt, pale one and brush each pie with this at the end of step 9. 

Recipe by Nigella Lawson.

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