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Christmas mince pies

Christmas might still be some way off but it's not too early to get going on mince pies - try this recipe from 'The Cook and Baker'

by Psychologies

The Cook and Baker

Nothing beats the smell and taste of freshly baked mince pies as they come out of the oven. Our fruit mince is adapted from a collation of our family recipes and contains a sticky mixture of fruit, apples and warming spices all bound with a generous glug of brandy. We easily gain a few extra kilos over this period

Makes 24 mince pies

Preparation time fruit mince: soak fruit for up to 2 months

Preparation time pastry: 50 minutes plu 1 hour chilling time

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

For the fruit mince:

470g (1 lb ½ oz/2¾ cups) raisins

460g (1 lb ¼ oz/22⁄3 cups) sultanas (golden raisins)

450g (1 lb) currants

2 apples, peeled, cored and grated

310g (11oz/12⁄3 cups, lightly packed) light brown sugar

150g (5½ oz) butter, melted

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

200ml (7 fl oz) brandy

For the pastry:

350g (12oz/21⁄3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

110g (3¾ oz/¾ cup) self-raising flour

90g (3¼ oz/¾ cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar

240g (8½ oz) cold butter, diced

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

50ml (1¾ fl oz) iced water

Caster, rapadura (panela) or raw sugar, to sprinkle

Method:

1. For the fruit mince: Mix together the raisins, sultanas and currants in a food processor. Pulse the dried fruit mix until coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until all incorporated. Place in a sealed container and store in the fridge until needed.

2. For the pastry: Sift the flours and icing sugar into a bowl. Use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolks and the iced water and pour into the flour and butter, then mix at low speed until just combined. Remove from the bowl, press into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest for at least 1 hour in the fridge before using. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).  Lightly grease two 12-hole 80ml (2½ fl oz/1⁄3 cup) muffin tins

To assemble: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 3 mm (1⁄8 inch) thickness. Using an 8 cm (3¼ inch) round pastry cutter, cut out 24 rounds and place into the prepared pans. Spoon 2–3 teaspoons of fruit mince into each. Re-knead the scraps and chill before rolling again. Roll and cut out lids to desired shapes, such as stars and rounds, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the pans.

Note: It is best to make the filling up to 2 months in advance to let the flavours develop. The pastry can also be made up to 4 days ahead or frozen for up to 1 month.

The Cook and Baker by Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa (Murdoch Books, £20). Photography by Chris Chen