Silwood Kitchen Mince Pies

Silwood Kitchen Mince Pies

December 12, 2014


Alicia Wilkinson Carianne Wilkinson food recipes Silwood Kitchen

Nothing makes you feel more christmassy than mince pies. When you see them on the shelves of your local grocery store, you know the festive season has started. Combine that with the dulcet tones of Boney-M’s christmas album and you … Continued

Nothing makes you feel more christmassy than mince pies. When you see them on the shelves of your local grocery store, you know the festive season has started. Combine that with the dulcet tones of Boney-M’s christmas album and you can practically hear Santa trying to wriggle down your chimney.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share a lovely mince pie recipe from A Year At Silwood to spread a little festive cheer. A Year At Silwood by Alicia & Carianne Wilkinson is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

Mince Pies

Makes 36

For Theresa’s first prize pastry:
250ml butter, 250ml crème fraîche
500ml cake flour, 1ml salt
15ml caster sugar

For the filling:
30ml brandy
300g christmas mincemeat (see recipe further down the page)
cake flour, for dusting
For the garnish:
icing sugar

Special equipment:
traditional shallow mince pie pans

As a young farmer’s bride in Ixopo in the 1940s, Lesley’s sister Theresa sought the help of the local pastry-making ‘queen’ to teach her how to make this pastry. Proudly, she entered the local agricultural show with her newfound skill and, much to the pastry queen’s horror, won the competition. Theresa was no longer popular with the pastry queen, but at least we got the recipe!

To make Theresa’s First Prize Pastry, cream the butter until soft, add the crème fraîche and stir to combine. Refrigerate to firm for at least 4 hours. Sift together the flour, salt and caster sugar, then add to the chilled butter mixture. Using a knife, cut the two mixtures together until evenly crumbly. Press together into a ball then flatten to form a disk. Cover and refrigerate to rest for at least 20 minutes. Cut the pastry in half, leaving one half in the refrigerator (the pastry can be tricky to work with in hot weather, so keep it well chilled). Roll into a 45 x 20cm rectangle. Fold in three, quarter turn, roll, and fold in three again. Cover and rest again for 30 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the pastry.

For the pastry, roll out to 3 to 4mm. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Using a 7mm round cutter, cut out 24 to 36 pastry bases and line the mince pie pans. Layer the offcuts on top of themselves and roll again, then chill to firm. Using a 6mm round cutter, cut out the lids. Refrigerate, covered, until required.

To fill, mix the brandy and mincemeat together. Spoon a teaspoonful of this mixture into each base. Brush the underside of each lid with cold water then gently press on top of each filled base. Chill until firm. Prick each lid to make an air vent.

To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C (180°C fan), and bake for 15 minutes, then turn down to 170°C (150°C fan) and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes. Total baking time is 40 to 45 minutes, and the pies should be risen, crispy and light golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

To serve, sprinkle generously with sifted icing sugar.

Christmas Mincemeat

500g granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
250g clarified shredded suet, 360g raisins
250g currants, 250g sultanas
120g mixed chopped candied peel
360g sticky soft brown sugar
15ml orange zest, 10ml lemon zest
50g blanched almonds, slivered
100ml orange juice, 50ml lemon juice
20ml mixed spice, 1ml freshly grated nutmeg
1½ml ground cinnamon, 90ml brandy

Although mincemeat may be eaten within a few days of being made, it is very much improved by keeping. The only meat used in mincemeat these days is beef suet. It is said that in olden times, shredded beef or beef tongue was used. But unless a lot of spices and spirits were used, this would not have kept long, so the habit was soon dropped. It is best to make mincemeat slightly on the dry side and add a little extra brandy, rum, sherry or orange juice at the time of using it.

Combine all the ingredients except 45ml of the brandy. Place in a large Pyrex bowl and leave overnight to allow the fruit to absorb the liquid and swell. Cover the bowl with tinfoil and place in a preheated oven of about 110°C for about 2½ hours. Remove from the oven – the suet should have melted and risen to the top of the fruit. Stir frequently while cooling so that the fat encases the fruit evenly. When cold, stir in the remaining 45ml brandy. Pack into clean, dry, sterilised jars then cover with melted wax and seal. Store in a dark, cool place.

Note: clarified shredded suet is available in supermarkets under the brand name Atora.

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