Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

I know, I know. I am a little late to the party with this one but as I have just made a batch for the second time this month, it struck me that these would be perfect to pass round if you are having people over for a New Years Eve gathering or to take with you if you are attending one. My son has just left to visit friends in Denmark and taken a tin with him as they went down a storm when he first took them to a Christmas party they were having in London a few weeks back.

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

I am not going to lie to you – these are time consuming to make, so if you can get someone or two, to help, then your mini production line will turn these out in no time at all. Or, if you have a ravioli attachment for your pasta machine, you can use that to speed things up. Otherwise, as with all things miniature, these can be a little tedious to churn out but let me assure you; they are totally worth it. A thin, crisp shortcrust base with a flaky, buttery, puff pastry top, encasing an orange scented little mouthful of fruity mince and dredged in cinnamon icing sugar – even those who dislike mince pies will like these.

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

Place filled pastry on a bit of parchment paper and use this to swivel the pastry round quickly as you crimp it.

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

Dredge with the cinnamon icing sugar

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

Remove to a wire rack to cool

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

Festive Mince Pie Pastries

  • Servings: approx 50
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Adapted from BBC Good Food Sugar Dusted Mince Pie Parcels

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 375g sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
  • 1 x  sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
  •  300g  jar of mincemeat
  • Zest of one orange
  • handful of dried cranberries and sour cherries
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100 g icing sugar sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove both pastry sheets from fridge about 15 mins before use
  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and paper/prepare two baking sheets
  3. Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and grate in the orange zest and stir in the additional dried fruit
  4. Unfurl the shortcrust pastry sheet keeping it on it’s wrapper and roll out a little more thinly
  5. Using a 5 cm cutter, stamp out rounds for the base
  6. Remove the trimmings – you can re-use these – and leave the rounds on their wrapper
  7. Spoon on a good teaspoonful of  the mincemeat, heaping it on in a dome, but making sure to leave the base clear around the edge.
  8. Unfurl the puff  pastry and roll out quite thinly – more so than the shortcrust as you are going to be stamping out larger rounds to cover the filling
  9. Using a 5.5 cm cutter, stamping out slightly larger rounds.
  10. Pick up a circle of puff pastry and using your index finger, dip into the  beaten egg and brush around the edges of the puff.
  11. Place on top of the mince topped shortcrust rounds and shape around the filling.
  12. Carry on doing this until all the bases are covered
  13. Then, tear off a bit of parchment paper and  place one of the pastries on top of it.
  14. Use the paper to swivel it around as you crimp the edges quite firmly with a fork , to seal.
  15. Place on prepared trays; you can place them quite snugly as they don’t spread too much
  16. Egg wash them using a brush
  17. Bake for 18-20 mins , turning trays around and swapping them if necessary after 9 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  18. While the pastries are baking, mix the icing sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  19. At this point, you can re-roll the pastry trimmings and stamp out, fill, top, crimp and egg wash and bake when the oven is free.
  20. Once pastries are out of the oven and still hot, using a fine meshed sieve, heavily dredge with the cinnamon icing sugar and remove to a wire rack to cool.
  21. Pack into air-tight tins and sieve in some more of the icing sugar until ready to serve.

 Festive Mini Mince Pie Pastries

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy SeedsThese Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds are brilliant to make for the  bake sale table at school fetes, which is what I first made them for. The addition of sour cream makes them incredibly tender and light. They were so good that I got an email from a dad who had bought one, asking for the recipe.

I do miss those school fetes now that J is at senior school. There was so much good will and pulling together to raise money for the scholarship fund as well as other charities. The Christmas fetes used to be spectacular themed events with parents, the Art department, the children and the maintenance department working in tandem to transform the school. One year the theme was Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the full size bed and a paper mache family in it, in the entrance hall and Santa’s grotto awash with giant (cardboard) colourful sweets and candy canes. Probably the most spectacular was the Narnia theme, with a wardrobe complete with fur coats as the entry into the grotto and the school walls covered in white sparkly batting with thousands of hand made and decorated snowflakes and decorations hanging from the ceiling and on the walls. There was even a lamppost positioned outside the school doors. The fetes were really very special and I feel so privileged to have been a part of those happy times.

These Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds can be made with a hand mixer or in a food processor but either way, don’t take long to come together. A slice is wonderful with a cuppa and the cakes are also good to take in to work or as a hostess gift – delicious home made cakes are ALWAYS appreciated!

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cake with Poppy Seeds

  • Servings: 2 loaf cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Jane Hornby’s Bitter Orange and Poppy Seed Cake for BBC Good Food

Each loaf cake cuts into 8 slices

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbsp thick cut marmalade
  • 150g sour cream
  • 175g soft butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 200g  flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 tsp toasted poppy seeds

Topping:

  • 5 Tbsp marmalade
  • Juice of ½ an orange

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C/320F
  2. Prepare 2 x 2 lb  loaf tins with paper liners or butter the sides and lay a strip of parchment paper to cover the bottom and run up the short sides as handles.
  3. Gently heat the marmalade  – you can do this on a medium setting in the microwave or in a pan on the hob.  Off the heat, stir in the sour cream . Let mix cool.
  4. Place the butter in a bowl or food processor and beat/blend until smooth. Add the sugar and beat/blend for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, beating/blending well each time. The mix will look curdled but it will all be ok in the end.  Scrape down the sides and beat/blend again.
  5. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, poppy seeds and grate in the orange zest. Mix well with a fork or whisk; add the wet mix and beat in.
  6. Stir in the sour cream/marmalade mixture.
  7. Pour into the prepared tins  and place in the oven. I find it quite useful to divide up the batter by eye, leaving some behind in the mixing bowl and then weighing each tin to see where the remaining batter should go.
  8. Bake for 1 hour. Check at 30 minutes and  if they are colouring too much, cover loosely with baking parchment.  The cakes are done when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Give the cakes another 5 or 10 minutes if necessary. Mine were ready in 30 minutes but I have a very hot oven.
  9. While they are in the oven, prepare the glaze; heat the orange juice and marmalade until reduced but still runny. It will take about 5 minutes or so. Set aside to cool.
  10. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes on a rack in their tins.
  11. Turn them out and spoon over the glaze while the cakes are still warm

Loaf cakes will keep for 3-4 days if wrapped. Use baking paper to cover the top and foil to overwrap with.

Breakfast Bars

Breakfast BarsMade these lovely Breakfast Bars yesterday inspired by a twitter link from Nigella Lawson. Other than the condensed milk, the ingredients are super healthy and these bars taste much nicer that the cereal ones that you can buy.  I had lots of seeds left over from making the Seeded Spelt Crackers which were perfect for this recipe.

Breakfast BarsFeel free to use the recipe as a template. You could use varied types of nuts and dried fruits, chocolate chips (not so healthy then) and even add cinnamon or drizzle the top with chocolate. These Breakfast Bars come together in minutes and bake for an hour – who could ask for more?!

Breakfast Bars

Breakfast

  • Servings: 16 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Breakfast Bars 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 397 g can caramel condensed milk (or use plain)
  • 250 g rolled oats (not instant)
  • 75 g shredded coconut
  • 100 g dried berry mix – mine had raisins, cranberries and cherries
  • 125 g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, sesame)
  • 100 g flaked almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 130°C/250ºF and oil a 23 x 33 x 4cm / 9 x 13 inch baking tin, or use one of those disposable foil trays if you have one lurking around from the summer which is what I did.
  2. Measure out all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well to distribute evenly.
  3. Heat the caramel condensed milk in a large pan and when it is warm, give it a good stir and take if off the heat.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients and give it a good mix.
  5. Scrape it out into the prepared pan and  pat it out as evenly as you can.
  6. Bake for one hour, checking after 50 minutes.
  7. Let cool for 15 minutes then, using a long knife, slice into four long bars, then give it a quarter turn and slice into four again.
  8. Store in an air tight tin.

Seeded Spelt Crackers

Seeded Spelt CrackersNigel Slater is one of my favourite food writers. In addition to a plethora of really, really good cook books, he also writes for the Observer Magazine and the Observer Food Monthly Supplement. His food is intuitive, uncomplicated and unpretentious with fabulous flavour.  When I first returned to work, his “Real Fast Food”  and “Real Food” are what I read at bedtime to prime myself for the evenings to come so that I could still have people over for supper and not go into a complete meltdown in the process. “Appetite” remains one of my most referred to books and “Kitchen Diaries” still helps to inspire when I am feeling as jaded and uninspired as stale cracker…

Seeded spelt crackers

Speaking of which, I watched him make these spelt crackers on catch-up television the other day and shortly after, found myself in Whole Foods where you can buy tiny (or huge) scoops of flours, rice, pulses, seeds and nuts from their bulk bins. I had already looked up and saved the recipe to Pepperplate so all that was left to do was to look it up on my phone and  buy what was needed.  The seeded spelt crackers are dry, crumbly and nutty from the seeds – perfect with a bit of blue or creamy cheese after dinner.

Seeded spelt crackers

Spelt is a truly ancient grain which can be traced as far back as the 5th millennium BC. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavour and can be helpful for people who are wheat intolerant but not coeliacs as it does contain gluten. I have used the flour to make delicious pancakes in the past (substituting half of the flour with spelt) and it can be used in cakes and biscuits as well.

Do have a go at these crackers – they really are delicious!

Seeded Spelt Crackers

Seeded Spelt Crackers

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Barely adapted from Nigel Slater’s Dish of the Day – Savoury Biscuits 

INGREDIENTS

  • 90g spelt flour
  • 15g  golden linseeds
  • 15g  pumpkin seeds
  • 15g  sesame seeds
  • 15g sunflower seeds
  • 50g soft butter
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • flaky sea salt to sprinkle

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C/350F and prepare your baking sheet by laying some greaseproof paper on it.
  2. Place the flour and seeds in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Stir in the butter with a wooden spoon or just use your hands to rub the butter into the flour/seed mix until it is evenly distributed.
  4. Sprinkle on the one tablespoon of water and use your hands to start bringing the dough together, adding the second tablespoon of water as you go.  You should end up with a nubbly ball of dough.
  5. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. It will be quite hard when you retrieve it so let it warm up a bit before trying to roll it out.
  6. Place the dough between two sheets of grease proof paper or cling film and roll out quite thinly. The original recipe says as thick as a pound coin but I rolled the dough much thinner than than – more like a 5p coin.
  7. Using a 2 inch pastry cutter or a wine glass (any thin glassed vessel will do..) stamp out rounds – I managed to get 24, re-rolling the scraps a couple of times.
  8. Place rounds on the prepared baking sheet – they don’t spread very much so you can place them quite close together – and sprinkle with a little salt.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. They are ready when they look golden brown.
  10. Remove to a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight tin.

Seeded Spelt Crackers