My 11 year old and I were discussing recently what we might give to his teacher for a Christmas/end of year gift this year. Mr M is a lovely young bloke and this has been his first year of full time teaching, so I figure he’s likely to enjoy getting individual gifts from the kids as much as, or even more than the “collect money from everyone and buy a big gift” present that teachers are traditionally given at my kids’ school.
Apparently I’m not the only one who had reached that conclusion and Mr 11 tells me that the baked gifts have been arriving already. Mr M has been enthusiastically greeting these offerings with the comment “Oh wow, I’m going to get fat!” So I’m rather tempted to send him some fruit mince pies decorated with icing sugar dusted through Definatalie’s “No Diet Talk” brooch.
I’ve been feeding people homemade fruit mince pies every December for many years now, and over those years I heard so many times the phrase “Oh, I really shouldn’t!” when they are offered around. Eventually I started to respond by saying “Oh, ok then” and taking them away again. I think all my fruit mince pie recipients have been well trained now, the acceptable answers are “Yes please!” “No, thanks.” or “I’m stuffed! Can I take some for later?” (The answer to the latter is “Of course!”)
If I could offer you all pies through the internet, I would, but alas!, replicator technology is not yet with us, so if you want some you’ll either have to come and visit me during the festive season, or bake your own – and for that you’ll need the recipe, so here it is:
Fruit Mince Pies
(makes up to 36 depending on how thin you roll the pastry, I aim for about 3mm)
3 cups plain flour
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
225g butter, diced
3 – 4 tablespoons iced water
icing sugar for dusting
approximately 700g fruit mince (I cheat and use Robertson’s – you need 2 of the 410g jars)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C for fan-forced). Brush 3 12-cup shallow patty tins lightly with melted butter.
2. Place flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until the mixture is fine and crumbly.
3. Add the water and process until the mixture comes together (start with 3 1/2 tablespoons, add a little more if needed). Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead very gently until smooth.
4. Roll out 1/2 the pastry (about 1/4 at a time is manageable, I place baking paper over the top so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin) and cut with a round biscuit cutter. Fit the circles into prepared tins.
5. Fill pastry cases with fruit mince – don’t overfill, a slightly heaped teaspoonful is about right.
6. Roll out the remaining pastry, cut with the same cutter and place the circles on tops of the pies, press the edges to seal, prick with a fork to let steam escape.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden – keep an eye on them during the last 5 minutes. Carefully lift the pies out with a blunt knife and allow to cool on wire racks. Dust tops lightly with icing sugar.
Please consider this an invitation to tell us your stories of favourite festive foods, share a recipe, or link to some of the amazing culinary creations out there in internet-land.