Hellllooooo...Happy 20th December. Hoooooow many mince pies have you managed to eat yet? I haven’t had a single proper one yet. I KNOW, shaaameful. But maybe I’ll carry on my Christmas tradition of making them on Christmas eve; never making enough so that by boxing day Dad is telling me off for slacking on the mince pie making front.
But do you know....quite a lot of people don’t like them. Mentalists. Is it because they’re called mince pies? It can’t be that surely, because I’m a vegevege and I can, and do, eat mince pies for breakfast. I know quite a few people are not dried fruit fans so struggle with the big gooey blob of it in the middle (crazies). And someone said to me the other day that mince pies are just so much pastry, which I guess is true. For any individual sized pie the ratio of pastry to filling is swayed strongly in pastry’s favour...but again, what’s wrong with that. Pastry is the bees knees (or the dogs danglers, as Dad would say *heeeee*).
So here I have for you the non-mince pie lover’s mince pie; a mincemeat wreath....yup....WREATH. Isn’t it beauooooodiful. A pastry bow and eVERYthiiing. It solves the dried fruit problem by spreading out the mincemeat so it’s nice and layered between the pastry so at no point do you get a big mouthful of it. And although there’s lots of pastry involved, it’s puff; much lighter and flakier than it’s shortcrust cousin.
It looks spectacular but is actually a doddle, despite the long looking recipe, honest....peeeeerfect to bringing along to your next festive gathering. And hooonestly, even the mince pie haters will love it. So go forth and spread the mincemeat cheer. With Love and Cake.
From Delicious Magazine
A few notes:
- You don’t actually have to make a wreath out of the swirls. They are great dotted separately on your lined baking sheet and baked into little, golden mince pie bites. In fact depending on how big you want your wreath (I made mine small for transport reasons), you might very well be able to make your wreath and then have a number of swirls leftover, which can be baked at the same time.
- To make this soooperdooooper easy, absolutely feel free to use shop bought puff pastry. As all the cheffychefs say, if you buy the ‘all butter’ kind, it’s one of the best ever kitchen cheats. I made my own, because I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’ll give you the recipe for it, but DO NOT feel bad for buying it in. Tis not the season for extra guilt.
- I’m faaar too nervous of damage and the resulting kitchen tantrum to try and remove the wreath from the greaseproof paper, so I tear the excess from around the edges and serve it straight from that. It makes it easy to transfer from plate to plate and has a nice ‘brown paper vintagey’ look.
Makes 1 small wreath + leftover individual swirls
You will need
A large baking sheet lined, then grease the paper as an extra precaution
For the pastry (or a 425g pack of puff pasty)
For the wreath
25g flaked almonds
300g mincemeat (make sure it’s vege if you care, some of them aren’t)
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon and 1 unwaxed orange
1 beaten egg
For the icing
2 tbsp icing sugar
Around 2 tbsp water
- Right, first job: pastry. It’s a quirky method but absolutely works so ‘bear with, bear with’. Weigh out the butter that you need, leaving it in one whole block as much as poss. Wrap it back up in its wrapper and pop it in the freezer for half an hour.
- Meanwhile weigh out your flour into a large bowl.
- When the half hour is up and the butter is chilled and firm, use a course grater to grate the butter into a big mound on top of the flour; dipping the end of the butter into the flour every now and again as it starts to stick to the grater and warm up.
- When it’s all grated, use a metal spoon to toss it around in the flour so the butter gets a good coating of it. Then add 2 tablespoons of cold water to the mix and toss around.
- Continue adding water until you can bring the dough together lightly with your hands. This is a Delia recipe and she says she only uses around 2 tbsp but I always seem to use much more than that so just keep going, a tablespoon at a time, until you get a pastry dough.
- Wrap it up in clingfilm and chill in the fridge 30 minutes, while you assemble the other bits and bobs. Also, toast the almonds under the grill for just a few moments until golden- be careful, the burn in millisecond and preheat the oven to 180°c.
- When your pastry’s nice and chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to a nice big square and a thickness of ½ a cm at most.
- Trim the edges to neaten and save a sliver of pastry to make the bow later.
- Spread the mincemeat evenly over the pastry and then scatter with the almonds and zest.
- Roll up, like a swissroll (from the longest edge if it’s not quite a square), so you have a long pastry sausage. Brush the outside with the beaten egg and then slice, with a serrated knife, into rounds of 2cm thickness.
- Arrange the rounds, swirl side up/down, on your baking sheet, into a circle, just smaller than your severing plate (or transportation tin) with the edges nestling together.
- Pop any leftover swirls around the wreath or onto another baking sheet. And finally make a bow out of the saved pastry. I like to do a deconstructed one, making one loop and dangly bit, laying another on top, and then tucking a little bit over the crossover where the knot should really be. Press onto your wreath.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the mincemeat it bubbling around it. Transfer any individual swirls to a wire rack to cool but I would leave the wreath alone to firm up a bit.
- When completely cool, it’s icing time. Simply stir water into the icing sugar, a teeny bit at a time, until you have a smooth and drizzly paste.
- Drizzle and swizzle the icing backwards and forwards over the wreath and swirls and stand back and admire your handiwork. Doesn't it look brill.