The sense of smell is said to be the strongest of all senses, able to bring back memories and evoke emotions almost immediately. This couldn't be more apparent to me than at Christmas, the warming of brandy sauce, the flaming of a Christmas pudding, the scent of clove marinating in the fruit mince mixture, I am salivating at the thought.
I've gotten off track here slightly, what I am trying to convey is Christmas is not about buying fruit mince pies, its about making them. The days, weeks, or months of marinating the dried fruit in brandy and spices, licking the spoon daily when you've stirred the mixture, and the smell when you open the oven to remove a tray of these golden, pastry parcels of flavour.
Making these is a lot easier than you might think, the mixture is as easy as throwing everything into a bowl and being patient enough to let it marinate. The pastry is also easy to make, it just needs some care in rolling it out to the the perfect thickness, a keen eye and delicate hands will see you through.
Boozy fruit filling
140g seedless raisins
100g Mixed Peel
75g slivered almonds
2 Granny Smith apples peeled & grated
70g unsalted butter melted
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 & 1/2 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
120g brown sugar
60g raw caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 3 oranges
Zest of 1 lemon
Brandy - approx. 1 & 1/4 cup
Rum (dark) 1/2 cup
Note: You can use all Brandy if you prefer
Boozy fruit filling
Combine all the ingredients except the brandy & rum in a large mixing bowl, Stirring and mixing thoroughly. Cover with a clean cloth and leave overnight (or 12 hours) to allow the flavours to develop.
Cook in the oven for 3 hours at 120 degrees Celsius.
Remove and allow to cool, as it cools stir from time to time.
Add the brandy and rum, stir to combine. Cover and chill, stirring daily, for at least 7 days before use. The longer you store the mixture, the better it will taste.
*This fruit mince stores for months, kept airtight, in the refrigerator. Make it well ahead of time – at least a few days, and up to several months, before needed.
200g self raising flour
75g unsalted butter
30g icing sugar
2 Tbsp ice cold water
*extra icing sugar and granulated sugar for dusting
Combine butter, lard, and Icing sugar, mix with an electric mixer, don't overwork it.
Add cinnamon and SR flour and mix again until it forms a bread crumb like consistency.
Add the Ice water and combine using a knife. Do not add it all at once, use only as much as the pastry needs.
Place pastry in between two sheets of baking paper and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
keep the pastry in between the baking paper, start rolling the pastry until it is approximately 2mm thick. At this stage you can either go straight to cutting the pastry into rounds and placing them into your pie tray, or if you are in a warmer climate you might want to place the pastry in the fridge for another minute or so.
Preheat the over to 180 degrees celcius.
Use an 8.5cm-diameter round pastry cutter to cut 12 discs from the pastry. Use a 5cm-diameter star-shaped pastry cutter to cut 12 stars from the remaining pastry.
Divide the fruit mince among the pastry cases. Top with pastry stars, brush the stars lightly with water, and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 180 degrees celcius for 15-20 minutes in a fan forced oven.
Transfer to a wire rack within 5 minutes of removing, allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar.