Fruit mince pies
Fruit mince pies were always a Christmas staple for our family. Often topped with a pastry star, or a drizzle of thick royal icing, they were devoured with gusto in our house. Unfortunately, from a young age I have had something against fruit mince pies. Most that I’d come across were full of thick chunks of candied citrus peel, a personal dislike of mine that totally put me off fruit mince for years. It is only now that I started making my own, only including the ingredients I want, that I have realised how delicious they can be. I regret all those years I avoided my mum’s mince pies, claiming that I didn’t like them (without even trying them). I think I will be making these every year from now on.
I made a batch of these recently for a friends’ Christmas party here in the States, and it was only then that I realised what a specifically English tradition this is. Less than half the people there had ever heard of a fruit mince pie, and the only real excitement I got was from someone of English heritage. However, once they convinced themselves to try a sweet tart with the word “mince” in the name, they went down an absolute treat.
This recipe is adapted from one by Kate of The Little Library Café. I’ve added cranberries as a personal preference and replaced the port with calvados – though either would work well here. This pastry recipe, packed with a delicious citrus punch, is particularly delicious.
100g brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
100g dried cranberries
2 clementines, zest and juice
2 apples, grated
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
90g vegetable shortening
90g unsalted butter
360g plain flour
juice and zest of 2 clementines
pinch of salt
Combine the sugar and the calvados in a saucepan and dissolve over a low heat.
Add the spices, dried fruit, grated apple, and the zest and juice of the clementines.
Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the fruit comes together and the liquid has reduced.
Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredient, beating well to incorporate everything.
Transfer the fruit mince to jars for storage.
Next make the pastry by cutting the butter and shortening into cubes and tossing in the flour.
Chill in the freezer for 20 min.
Combine the zest and juice of the clementines with the salt and chill in the fridge.
Once the flour mix has chilled, rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add enough of the clementine juice to bring the pastry together. If you use up all the juice and the pastry is still too dry, add a sprinkle of cold water.
Wrap the ball of dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 190 C.
Roll out a quarter of the pastry between two sheets of baking paper and cut out circles and stars.
Push the pastry circles into the cups of a muffin tray (or mini muffin tray, depending on your size preference).
Fill with a tablespoon of the fruit mince and top with a pastry star.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown.
Cool slightly in the tray, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Dust with icing sugar and devour to your hearts content.