Mincemeat Pies

Sweet individual mini pies. So festive and the perfect size for parties

Makes 36 4½cm/ 2″ mini tarts

1 recipe sugar dough, or another pie dough
600g / 2½ cups mincemeat
butter, for greasing
powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Preheat the oven to 220C/ 425F.

Butter 2″ pie tins.

Roll out the dough quite thin. Cut out 36 5½cm / 2¼” circles for the bottoms and 4cm / 1¾” stars for the tops. Press bottoms gently into tins. Add a teaspoon of mincemeat. Top with stars.

Bake until golden brown, about 10–15 minutes. Watch to make sure the tips of the stars do not burn.

Immediately after baking remove from tins. If working in batches, make sure to allow tins to completely cool before refilling.

Once completely cool, using a strainer, dust with powdered sugar (optional).

Mincemeat and Marzipan Wreath

A delicious and pretty centerpiece

Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s Mincemeat and Marzipan Couronne

250g/ 8¾ oz bread flour, plus extra for dusting
5g/ 1 teaspoon salt
8g/ 3 teaspoons instant yeast
50g/ 3½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
135g/ 4¾ oz whole milk
1 medium egg, beaten

For the marzipan
90g/ 3¼ oz sugar
140g/ 5oz powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
220g/ 7¾oz almond flour
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 medium egg, beaten

For the filling
400g/ 14oz mincemeat

To finish
50g/ 1¾ oz apricot jam
200g/ 7oz powdered sugar
30g/ 1oz water
50g/ 1¾ oz slithered pistachio
25g/ 1oz glace cherries, roughly chopped

Directions
In a large bowl add bread flour, salt, and yeast. Add butter, milk and one egg and lightly until all the flour is incorporated and you have a soft dough.
Dust a work surface with flour and knead dough until it is smooth, about 7 minutes.
Add to a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise until doubled, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In a large bowl both sugars and almond flour and mix well. Add orange zest and one egg and mix until it forms a paste.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly dust with powdered sugar.
Add paste to work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar and knead until it becomes smooth. Cover with cling film and chill.

On another work surface lightly dusted with flour add the rested dough. Carefully, without deflating, roll the dough into a 33cm by 25 cm/ 33″ by 9¾” rectangle. With the long edge facing you, spread the mincemeat evenly. On another surface light dusted with flour, roll the marzipan out thinly. Lay it over the mincemeat. Roll the dough up tightly. Cut lengthwise in half. Join at one end. Twist the 2 dough lengths together, then join the other end to make a circle. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It should spring back quickly if you press with a finger.

Preheat oven to 205C/ 400F.
Bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack. Heat the apricot jam with a tablespoon of water. While the wreath is still warm, brush on the glaze. Leave to cool.

Slowly mix enough water with the powdered sugar to make a thin icing, drizzle over the wreath. Sprinkle with the pistachios and cherries.

Pretzels

This recipe makes delicious soft German style pretzels.

Lye is the secret to truly great pretzels. It gives them their distinctive flavour. You can order lye on Amazon. You have to be very careful when handling it. Use protective gloves and a stainless steel bowl for dipping. Do not get any on your skin. Wear goggles and preferably a face mask. Do not breathe in the fumes or allow contact with your eyes.

If you’d prefer, you can make concentrated baking soda for the dipping. Spread a layer of soda on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake it at 135C/ 275F for one hour. Handle the concentrated baking soda with care, too. It’s not as strong as the lye, but it can irritate your skin.

You can find malt syrup at your local homebrew store.

These can be baked, frozen, and reheated in the oven later. If you do this, do not add the pretzel salt until the reheating.

Makes 12 large pretzels

1.25 kg/ 2 lb 4 oz flour (preferably bread)
15g/ ½ oz instant dry yeast
625g/ 1 lb 6 oz water
65g/ 2 ¼ oz butter, soft, cubed
30g/ 1 oz malt syrup
25g/ ¾ oz + ½ Tbsp salt
cooking spray, as needed

Lye Bath
455g/ 1 lb water, 41C/ 105F
20g/ ¾ oz + ½ Tbsp lye

pretzel salt or coarse salt, for sprinkling

In a standing mixer with a dough hook, combine flour and yeast. Then add water, butter, malt syrup, and salt. Mix on low for 2 minutes, then medium for 6 minutes.

Remove dough, cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Cut dough into 16og/ 5 ½ oz pieces rectangles. Let rest 5-10 minutes, covered.

Fold top edge of dough to middle. Gently press down. Then fold the top edge to the bottom edge. Press down, seeing the edges together.

Seam side down, roll the dough under your palms starting from the centre until it is about 76cm/ 30″ long, with it thicker in the center. If the dough is tight or tearing roll it part of the way, let it rest, then finish rolling it out.

Twist the ends together once. Then bring the ends over and attach them on either side of the thick center, pressing gently to seal. Transfer to cooking sprayed parchment lined sheet.

Leave covered for 30 minutes, until dough gives slightly when touched.

Refrigerate 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 245C/ 475F.

For the lye bath add 41C/ 105F to lye in a wide stainless steel bowl.

Allow pretzels to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Dip pretzels in solution. Transfer to parchment sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on racks.

Venison Pies Topped with Port Glazed Cranberries

With red cranberries and port these gorgeous pies make a great holiday party treat. The following recipe is for bite sized versions for holding with one hand at parties while you have something to drink with the other. I’ve also made meal sized pies which I’ve never had a problem with people finishing either.

1 lb puff pastry
butter for greasing
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 oz minced venison
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cornstarch
200 ml/ 6 oz oyster sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon five spice powder
salt and pepper
200 g cranberries
200g port
100g granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 190C/ 375F.

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

Working quickly so it stays cool, roll out pastry 3mm/ ⅛” thick. Cut out circles large enough to cover base and sides of muffin cups. Carefully line the muffin cups with the pastry circles. Press the pastry so it covers the bottoms and the sides. Put in fridge to chill while you make the filling.

To make the filling, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet. Saute onions for a couple of minutes, then add the carrot. Once the carrot is tender, add the venison, breaking up any lumps. Once the version is browned, stir in cornstarch, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and five spice powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool completely.

Add filling to muffin tins.

Bake until pastry is golden brown, approximately 30 minutes, on lowest oven rack. Check halfway. If mixture seems like it is getting dry, cover with foil.

Once baked cool on wire rack 20 minutes before removing from tin.

In the meantime, dissolve the sugar with the port over a low heat. Once dissolved, bring to the boil and add the cranberries. Cook for 1-2 mins, but remove from the heat before the cranberries burst. Leave to cool. Top the pies with the cranberries. Refrigerate 1 hr to set the topping.

Pear and Almond Tart

Also called a frangipane tart, pears and almonds are a classic combination. Pretty, too.

Makes one 9″ tart or six 4 ½” tartlets

1 recipe Sugar Dough
butter, for greasing pans

Poached Pears:
4 cups water
1 ⅓ cup Riesling wine
1 ⅓ cup sugar
1 sage leaf
1 whole clove
⅓ cinnamon stick
⅓ vanilla bean
½ star anise
6 pears, pealed, cored, and halved

1 recipe Almond Cream
100 g/ 3 ½ oz flaked almonds

Poach the Pears:
Put water, wine, sugar, sage, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and star anise in large pot. Bring to a boil.
Add pears and cover with parchment paper, lower heat to simmer.
Cook until pears are semi-soft, about 20-25 minutes.
Cool in liquid.

Butter six 4 ½” tart tins or one 9″ tart tin. Roll out dough 3mm/ ⅛” thick. Cut out circles large enough to cover base and sides. Carefully line the tart with the pastry. Press the pastry so it covers the base and the sides. Poke bottoms with a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 205C/ 400F.

Blind bake tart shell: Line with parchment paper, fill with pie weights, and bake for 7 minutes for tartlets or 17 minutes for a large tart. Remove weights and paper, prick again with a fork and bake until pale golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Lower oven to 175F/ 350F.

Add almond cream to tart shells and smooth with an offset spatula.

Remove pears from poaching liquid.
Slice pears width wise in thin slices without slicing all the way through. Press gently to fan out.
Use a pancake turner to lift pears and position pears on top of the almond cream. If making tartlets add one pear per pie. If making a 9″ tart, add with pointed ends facing in and meeting in the center.

Press almond flakes into exposed almond cream.

Bake until almond cream has puffed and turned golden brown, 25-30 minutes.

Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes before unmolding.