Orange Mince Pie Pastry

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI’ve always been mad about Christmas even though as a child, it was not something we celebrated. My cousins, who are half German always did Christmas in a big way. My aunt used to bake up a storm, fiercely guarding her recipes – I most remember the almond star cookies with the cinnamon  meringue tops that she always made without fail. (Luckily, Ginger recently posted a traditional recipe for these so I can make them now!) And they always had a big, gaily decorated tree in their sitting room, which I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI begged and whined every year for a tree and one year, we finally got one BUT – it was unceremoniously parked outside the doors to the verandah at the rear of our house and we had no decorations – I improvised with colourful metallic sweetie wrappers which I twisted to look like bows and oh, how I loved that tree.  I sound so deprived but I wasn’t really. We were living in Nairobi, engaging mainly with our huge and extended Muslim family and it just wasn’t the done thing to celebrate Christmas – we had Eid, of course.

Needless to say, my first Christmas on my own included the largest tree we could get into the flat, strung with so many lights that we probably caused a dent in the national grid every time they were turned on. It was so laden with ornaments that the branches were bowing under their weight.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableSince then, I have refined my tree decorating and have strings and strings of soft white lights – no coloured lights and certainly no flashing in time to music – which are wired to the branches so that they sit perfectly without any visible wires. There is no tinsel, no garland just lots of pretty, sparkly red, silver and gold ornaments and baubles, which have been amassed (amassed, being the key word) over the years.

Jake used to have a little tree in his room, which I do understand may be thought of as a little excessive but I had lost time to make up for! This little tree had very colourful ornaments and baubles – a practice, I am so happy to hear, that has been taken up by a friend, for her twin boys. Anyway, the bottom line is that I am just crazy about Christmas as a tradition – the twinkly lights everywhere, the smell of pine needles, the lovely things in the shops, the carols, the festive food, meeting up with friends for a Christmas drink, the parties and the general feeling of good cheer – I just love it!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableAnd of course, I love the baking. This is one of the best recipes I have ever used for mince pie pastry. It’s short, rich and buttery with a wonderful flavour from the flecks of orange zest. It is not too sweet which balances with the sweet mincemeat. And it is ever so forgiving. The trimmings come together like playdoh and can be re-rolled a number of times. The dough doesn’t have to be kneaded – just patted into a disc, chilled and then rolled out. It keeps for days in the fridge too.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI always use shop bought mincemeat which I ramp up with port soaked dried cranberries and golden sultanas and orange zest. I usually grate an apple into the mixture before I fill the pies but this year I didn’t. Honestly, jazzing up shop bought mincemeat like this makes it taste absolutely wonderful and I never think to make my own from scratch.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Pastry before being gathered and chilled

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Most years, I make at least two batches of mince pies with this pastry, usually with a glass of port and Michael Bublé for company! For me, this is when I start to feel really festive.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

I am taking these to share with the wonderful bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #47. Today we are being co-hosted by two charming ladies – Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook Do take a moment to see what Angie, Indu and Jhuls have been up to!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Orange Mince Pie Pastry

  • Servings: enough for 24 mince pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Sainsbury’s Christmas Book by Joycelyn Dimbleby

INGREDIENTS

For the mincemeat

  • 200g of dried cranberries. dried cherries and golden sultanas
  • enough port to cover the dried fruit
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 500 g mincemeat

For the pastry

  • 500g plain/AP flour
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 375 g cold butter, cubed
  • finely grated rind and juice of one orange

To assemble

  • 1 x 8cm/3in round cutter
  • 1 x 5cm/2in round cutter
  • 3 Tbsp flour in a bowl
  •  2 Tbsp water in a small glass or bowl
  • 1 Tbsp milk in a small glass or bowl
  • icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Pastry

  1. Place the flour, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add the chilled butter cubes and process until the mixture looks like coarse damp sand. Scrape out into a bowl and  break up any large lumps of butter or compacted mix.
  3. Using a table knife, stir in the orange juice until the pastry just starts to come together. You will think that this amount of liquid can’t possibly be enough, but it is.
  4. Gently, pat into a disk, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins or overnight.

Mincemeat

  1. Soak the dried fruit and zest in the port overnight (do not refrigerate).
  2. Stir in the mincemeat and set aside until needed.

To assemble

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Butter/spray the tart tins.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Divide into two, one piece slightly larger than the other. Wrap the smaller one in the cling film and pop it back in the fridge.
  4. Cut the larger half of the disc in half again. I find it easier to roll out a smaller piece of dough. Lightly flour the worktop and the rolling pin. Roll out the pastry, which will be solid to begin with but soon softens up as the butter warms up, a little thicker than usual and stamp out 12 x  8cm/3in rounds. Dip the cutter into the flour from time to time. Re-roll the trimmings to achieve the 12 rounds. Line the tart tin and pop into the fridge to chill. Repeat with the other half of the pastry and refrigerate while you get the tops ready.
  5. Remove the second half of the pastry dough from the fridge. Cut in half and roll out. Stamp out 12 x 5cm/2in rounds, again re-rolling the trimmings to achieve 12 rounds for the tops. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  6. Optional – gather all the trimmings, re-roll and stamp out stars, christmas trees, hearts etc.
  7. Remove the tart tins from the fridge and fill with the mincemeat – do not overfill.
  8. Dipping a finger into the water, moisten one side of the rounds and place on top of the filled pies.  Press lightly to seal and make a small slit on top.
  9. Moisten one side of the star/heart/Christmas tree and place on top of each pie.
  10. Brush with a little milk and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. The pastry is beautifully crumbly so it is best to let the mince pies cool for 10 minutes before easing them out of the tins (you may need to use a table knife to do this) and letting them cool on a wire rack.
  12. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot SaladI knew that with carrots as fresh as the ones in my veg box from Sutton Community Farm, a scheme I waxed lyrical about in my last post, I would have to make some sort of salad with them to make the most of their sweet, just picked flavour. I grated the carrots, nestled them reverentially on a handful of rocket leaves and then made up a dressing which was citrus sweet’n’sour, rich with cumin and humming with a little cayenne pepper. It was delicious!

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot Salad

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 carrots, scrubbed. Only peel then if they are not organic or if they are old as the skins can be bitter
  • handful of rocket leaves (or use other salad leaves if you have them)
  • 5 or 6 toasted walnuts halves
  • 1 tsp Za”atar spice mix

For the dressing

  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • juice of half an small orange
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Grate the carrots and place in a salad bowl on top of a handful of rocket leaves.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing – it will be a loose affair rather than an emulsified one. Don’t add all the lemon juice at once though – taste as you go along and adjust the flavours/seasoning to your palate.
  3. Pour the dressing over the grated carrots and rocket leaves and toss.
  4. Top with crumbled toasted walnuts and the za’atar and toss again.
  5. Serve immediately.

Glazed Blood Orange and Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pound Cake

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Another citrus cake – I know, but I do rather love making them. I love the bright, sharp flavours and that both the zest and juice can be integrated into such a flavourful and comforting slice. And buttermilk again too!  I’ve said in an earlier post how I always have it and/or sour cream in the fridge just because I find them both so useful and both have a relatively long shelf life too. Buttermilk is wonderful in bakes and does a fabulous job of tenderising meat and poultry. Since I have discovered that you can buy 1L cartons of buttermilk from the many Eastern European grocery stores that have popped in this part of London, I always seem to have some the fridge.

When my son had just started senior school, I went through a phase of baking a cake every Sunday so that he could take a slice to have at break rather than buying something full of trans fats and preservatives from the tuck shop. Banana cakes, carrot cakes, date and fig cakes, lemon and almond cakes, fruit and oatmeal muffins  – it was always something chock full of good things as well as eggs and butter! He quite often asked if he could take some for his friends which, obviously, I was delighted to accommodate! Now, alas, he is further up the school chain and has no room in his bag which is absolutely stuffed with school books, to take food of any kind in with him. That also means no more packed lunches – not something that I am sorry to see the back of. Now I seem to bake a cake at the start of the weekends, just so that there is a slice of something to offer with a cup of tea if someone (his friends or mine) were to drop by. I do write a food blog after all and it’s probably expected!

So to use up the last of the blood oranges, I have adapted a basic recipe for Pound Cake of which I have many fond memories from my teenage years. A slice of pound cake topped with sliced and macerated strawberries and a squirt of Cool Whip was the finale to many a summer picnic and barbecue when I lived in Canada. If you are unable to lay your hands on buttermilk, you may substitute yoghurt instead. And instead of blood oranges, you could use normal ones or even lemons. You can also use white caster sugar rather than the golden and muscovado sugars. Just keep the proportions the same and you will have a lovely, dense, aromatic cake which will keep for quite a few days in the cake tin.

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Messing about with a new app on my phone – Waterlogue

This is one recipe which requires the butter to be really soft in order to cream well with the sugars. Once that is done, whisk in the eggs, one by one and then stir in the grated zest. Juice the orange and add to the buttermilk along with the vanilla.

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Blend in a third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk mixture alternating until everything is used up but keeping a light touch throughout this part of the process. Scrape the batter into a prepared loaf tin and bake!

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Prepare the glaze by starting with 30ml of juice – I made mine much too runny by over confidently adding all the juice of half an orange. Glazes should be quite thick, I feel. Once cooled, glaze, slice and enjoy!

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Glazed Blood Orange Buttermilk and Brown Sugar Pound Cake

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 230g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115 g unsalted, very soft, butter
  • 150 g golden caster sugar
  • 50 g light muscavado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 2 blood oranges
  • 120 ml butter milk
  • Juice of one orange which was approx 50-60 ml
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract/paste or the seeds of one pod

Glaze

  • 30 – 45 ml blood orange juice
  • 60g icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325F and paper or butter a 2lb loaf tin
  2. Aerate and mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk and set aside
  3. Cream together the soft butter and sugar
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and mixing well between each. Add a spoonful of the flour if it looks as though it’s going to curdle – not that it make any difference to the end product.
  5. Stir in the zest.
  6. Mix together the milk, the  juice and the vanilla in a jug and set aside.
  7. Blend in a ⅓ of the flour mix into the batter using a light touch.
  8. Stir in half the buttermilk/orange juice mix and so on – you should finish with the flour mix. Don’t over beat.
  9. Scrape the batter into a loaf pan and bake for an hour. It will be quite dark from the brown sugar and when you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
  10. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove to a rack to cool completely
  11. Mix the glaze ingredients together to a fairly thick consistency and pour over the cooled cake.