I haven't been going over-board, but it dawned on me that going away for Christmas week means not only planning for Christmas, planning for a holiday at the same time! It'll be worth it though....it'll be brilliant to have the whole family together.
The weather at the moment is miserable, so it seems a great day to crack on with last minute Christmas bits and bobs, and get the baking done.
Feeling a bit bitter the other day that I was going to be missing out on so many treats this Chrimbo I decided to try and make some Swank-friendly mince pies, and I have to say they weren't that bad an alternative to the butter goodness of normal ones.
The pastry is made with oil (the mayonnaise pastry recipe just didn't seem to fit with mince pies!) and it was pretty good. It came out quite flaky and crumbly which was good, though I noticed that it went 'stale' and quite hard after a couple of days. I suppose they would freeze well though, so I think I'll run up a big batch today to see me through until Christmas.
Here's the recipe. There's no saturated fat in them at all, so even if you're not on the Swank diet, they're a healthier alternative!
SWANK-HAPPY MINCE PIES
APPLE AND PEAR MINCEMEAT (taken from The River Cottage Handbook No.2)Made about 1kg (will probably do about 4 dozen mince pies)
500g apples (I used russet apples, but bramleys would be good)
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
About 200-250g firm pear
50g orange marmalade
125g demerara sugar
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
25ml ginger wine or cordial
50g chopped walnuts
25ml brandy or slow gin (optional)
Peel, core and roughly chop the apples, then put into saucepan with the orange juice. Cook gently until tender (about 10 mins). Blend to a puree.
Put the puree into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients, except the alcohol. Mix thoroughly, cover, and leave for 12 hours.
Preheat the over to 130 degC/Gas Mark 1/2. Put the mincemeat in a large baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 2 hours. Stir in the alcohol (if required) then spoon into a warm sterilised jar, making sure there aren't any air pockets. Can be stored in a dark, cool place. Use within 12 months.
SWANK'S OIL PASTRYMakes enough for a dozen mince pies.
2 cups of plain flour.
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sunflower/vegetable oil
1/4 skimmed or soya milk
1/4 cup of caster sugar
Mix flour and salt.
Pour the oil into a measuring cup, then carefully add the milk (do not mix together).
Pour all at once into the flour and stir lightly until mixed.
Gather into a ball.
Roll out between waxed or greaseproof paper.
Cut two circle for each pie (one smaller than other)
Line cupcake tray with larger pastry circles (remember to grease the tray first!)
Fill with mincemeat mixture
Brush with egg
Place smaller circles on top and pierce pastry to allow steam to escape.
Bake in 200 deg C oven for roughly 10-12 mins (until brown on top)
Allow to cool slightly before putting on cooling rack.