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


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



  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.


  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.


Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's Table

Did you know that 90% of the tea drunk in the UK is a blend of teas, and that tasting and blending tea, like blending whisky or champagne, is a fine art, and takes years of training?

When I read that, I sat up and took notice! Tea is something that I take for granted – I like a cup in the afternoon and I like drinking green tea after dinner. So when I received some Tetley Tea to sample along with a fact sheet, I began to look at tea in a new light. There are over 200 ways to describe tea! It takes 5 years of training to become a Tetley Tea Blender, fluent in the art of tea blending and the vocabulary that comes with it. There are 60 different tea blends sold by Tetley and each blend is taste tested 8 times before it can be judged good enough to called Tetley!  Phew – now that is something to consider as we get through the 165,000,000 cups of tea that are drunk daily in the UK!

These are the top 20 terms used by Tetley’s tea tasters, bearing in mind that there are many more…

  1. Aroma: an important consideration in cupping teas is the smell that is given off. A favourable aroma is most often associated with a flavourful taste.
  2. Black tea: the most commonly consumed tea in the world. One of three major types of tea, the others being Green and Oolong.
  3. Biscuity: a desirable trait usually referring to a well fired Assam.
  4. Bite: a very brisk and “alive” tea liquor.
  5. Blend: a mixture of teas from several different origins blended together to achieve a certain flavour profile.
  6. Body: describes a tea liquor possessing fullness and strength.
  7. Colour: indicates useful depth of color and strength.
  8.  Dust: a term which is used to describe the smallest particles of tea leaf.
  9.  Flat: not fresh. Tea tends to lose its characteristics and taste with age, unlike some wines which mature with age.
  10.  Hard: a desirable quality suggesting pungency, particularly applied to Assam teas.
  11.  Jasmine: a green tea to which Jasmine flowers are added.
  12.  Leaf: a tea where the leaf tends to be on the large or longish size.
  13.  Malty: desirable character in some Assam teas. A full, bright tea with a malty taste.
  14.  Nose: a term used to connote a good aroma of tea.
  15.  Powdery: ‘fine, light dust’ as the tea people say, meaning a very fine, light leaf particle.
  16.  Pungent: describes a tea liquor having marked briskness and an astringent effect on the palate without bitterness.
  17. Sparkle: clarity and purity of colour from grey to pure colour.
  18.  Toasty: a tea which has been slightly overfired during processing. It may be a desirable characteristic in some Darjeeling teas.
  19.  Woody: a characteristic reminiscent of freshly-cut timber. This trait is usually associated with teas processed very late in the season.
  20.  Zing: overall quality impression of the tea on the palette; the balance of character and taste in the tea.

Well, after all the hard work that has gone into producing your blend, you want to be sure to treat that tea with a little respect! Here are Tetley’s Master Blenders’ top tips for the perfect cup…

The tea should be made with boiling water ­ and only once-boiled water with a low mineral content if possible. This is because reboiling reduces oxygen levels and affects the taste, whilst water with a low mineral content allows the tea notes to come through better.

If you’re making black tea, stand by the kettle to ensure you pour as soon as it’s boiled. Black tea tastes best when brewed in water as close to boiling point as possible. That’s why your cuppa may taste different on a plane. In the reduced pressure environment, the boiling point is lowered to 90°.

But if you’ re making green tea, allow the kettle to cool for up to two minutes. This will make sure that your tea doesn¹t over-infuse and develop a bitter taste. Green teas are more delicate after all.

When using a tea bag in a cup, always add your milk after the water, otherwise the milk will cool the water down and hinder the all important infusion process. If using a tea pot, try adding the milk to the cup first. This traditional technique stopped the delicate porcelain cups from cracking.

We advise leaving the bag in for at least two minutes to provide sufficient time to let the flavour of the tea to infuse. This is more of a guideline though; the perfect brew is down to personal preference. But do not poke or prod the bag while it is infusing ­ be patient and let the process happen naturally!

After removing the bag, leave the brew to cool down for around two-three minutes. As the temperature reduces, the flavours will develop for a better quality taste.

If you would like to know more about the art of tea blending, take a look on Tetley’s website for a much more in-depth overview.

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's TableMy recipe for Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares compliments and showcases the fruitiness of one of  one of Tetley’s latest blends – Green Tea with Peach and Apricot.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's TableI soaked some sultanas in a very strong brew of the tea which absorbed the fruity flavours perfectly. I roasted the seasonal crown squash that was in my Sutton Community Farm  veg box along with some butter, brown sugar and my Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice mix.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's TableI whizzed up a buttery, oaty, nutty base & topping, layered up and baked it then drizzled the squares with a lemony yogurt glaze. The result reminded me a little of the flavours of a baklava – sweet, spicy and nutty! I found that it sets up best overnight and even tastes better as all the flavours mature.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's TableI am taking these delicious Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares over to Angie’s to share with the revellers at her popular Fiesta Friday party – it’s the 45th one – can you believe it?! Our talented first-time co-hosts this week are  Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake (I don’t know about giraffes but Michelle is an extraordinary baker!) and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar (MB has some fantastic bakes on her blog but her savoury food is pretty fabulous too!) Welcome to co-hosting, ladies – it is quite the blast!

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares

  • Servings: 16 pieces
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


For the roast pumpkin

  • 300 g crown squash diced into 1  cm pieces (about a ¼ of a squash)
  • 1 tbsp butter cubed
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

Mix and roast in a single layer  at 200C/400F for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. The pumpkin pieces should be cooked through but still a little firm. Set aside to cool

For the sultanas

  • 75 g sultanas
  • 1 Tetley’s Peach and Green Tea teabag
  • 1 Tetley Redbush (Rooibos) teabag
  • 1 cup of just boiled water

Make a very strong brew with the two teabags, then remove and stir in the sultanas. Soak for 20 minutes at least. Drain when ready to use.

For the base and topping:

  • 125 g Digestive biscuits (about 8)
  • 20 g walnuts
  • 190 g plain/AP flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 20 g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 1 ½  tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
  • 180 g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50 g chopped walnuts – reserve for the topping
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds – reserve for the topping

For the filling:

  • 1 large egg
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 300 g roast pumpkin
  • drained sultanas
  • 1 Tbsp ground almonds/almond meal

For the glaze:

  • ½ c golden icing sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla yoghurt
  • 2 tsp Yuzu Citrus Seasoning


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F. Line a 9 inch square tin with greaseproof paper so that the base and sides are covered – use a few dabs of butter to get the paper to stick to the pan.
  2. Place the walnuts and digestive biscuits in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the flour, oats, ground almonds and pumpkin pie spice mix and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  4. Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse, damp sand.
  5. Set aside 1 generous cup of this mixture for the topping and tip the rest into the prepared tin. Pat it level – don’t press down too hard or the base will be tough – then bake for 15 minutes.
  6. While the base is baking, get the filling ready; combine the pumpkin and the sultanas.
  7. Using an electric mixer and a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg,  sugar and pumpkin pie spice mix until thick, coffee coloured and creamy – about 2 minutes. Fold in the pumpkin, sultanas and almond meal..
  8. After the base has been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove it and top with the filling – covering the hot base as evenly as you can with the pumpkin filling
  9. Sprinkle over the reserved topping, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Cool completely before glazing.
  12. Combine glaze ingredients together until smooth and drizzle over the top.

Stores brilliantly, covered in the fridge for 4-5 days.

© 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.

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal Cake

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal CakeOne of my earliest memories of baking is making coconut fingers with my grandmother. She would lay out a dish of shredded coconut and one of condensed milk, trim the crusts off white bread and slice them into fingers. I would carefully dip the fingers into the sticky sweet milk and then the coconut and lay them on a baking tray. We would both watch them through the glass door of the oven, pulling them out when they were toasty and golden. They were delicious – crunchy, sweet and chewy.

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal Cake

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal Cake

I was instantly transported back to my childhood kitchen when I tasted the caramelised topping of this cake.  It’s not going to win any awards for its looks but, my goodness, it is delicious. The cake itself is dense and moist with the soaked oats but redolent with the flavours of  a carrot cake. I have developed it from the retro Lazy Daisy Cake that was popular in America in the 30’s and 40’s. There are some wonderful stories in the blogosphere about people’s memories of their grandmother making this cake and you know how I love a little history! This is a one bowl cake that just needs a brisk stirring with wooden spoon to bring it together. For a lighter crumb, you could make this in a more traditional way by not soaking the oats, creaming the sugar and butter, then the eggs and finally adding all the dry ingredients but that would take away from the “lazy” aspect of it. I do plan to make it in a more traditional manner to compare.

I left the cake under the grill/broiler for a little too long and burnt some of the topping – I scraped off the worst of it and put it back for another 30 seconds but really was not enamoured of how it looked. Jake came home from school and asked if he could try some, to which I replied, “Not until I’ve photographed it.” The next morning, (I know, I am so mean keeping him waiting that long but in my defence the light was terrible by the time he got home and this cake needed all the help it could get to look even remotely appetising!) I reluctantly tipped it out of  the tin and set it up for the camera, not feeling very inspired at all. It was an ugly, brown, lumpen slab not doing much, so I decided to slice it up into squares. I tried a  bit and was really taken aback at how gloriously tasty it was. I called Jake down to try some and he absolutely loved it – said the base tasted like a carrot cake and that the topping was amazing. A proper ugly duckling! Felt like I had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat…

I have developed this recipe from one I saw on Serious Eats but have cut back a huge amount on the sugar and added carrots, sultanas and spices to make it a little more nutritious. This is my version:

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal Cake Measure the oats into the mixing bowl and stir in the milk and water – leave to soak for 20 minutes – also soak the sultanas in a separate bowl at the same time. In the meantime, grate the carrots and measure out and ensure the butter is really soft  (see my Tips and Tricks page for a few ways to achieve this if the butter too hard). Place the bowl back on the scales and add the sugar. Then add the salt, vanilla, carrots, butter and drained sultanas and stir really well to combine. The residual heat from the oats and sultanas will help to break up and distribute the butter. Beat in the eggs and coconut until combined.

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal CakePlace the bowl back on the scales and measure in the flour. Add the spices and baking powder and mix well. Scrape into the prepared baking tin and level out. Bake for 30 minutes.

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal CakePlace the same (unwashed) mixing bowl on the scales and measure in the two types of coconut, the sugar, the walnuts , the milk and the very soft butter. Stir really well to make a coarse mixture. When ready, remove the cake from the oven, turn on the grill/broiler and top the hot cake with the coconut mixture, spreading it as evenly as possible. Place under the grill/broiler just until the topping turns golden and caramelises – this should only take a minute or two – don’t walk away like I did as it does burn very quickly.

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal Cake

Ugly Duckling Carrot and Oatmeal Cake

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake by Yvonne Ruperti on Serious Eats


  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 150 ml just boiled water
  • 100 ml milk
  • 75 g sultanas
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 115 g butter – very soft
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 100 g shredded carrot (2 medium ones)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g sweet shredded coconut
  • 180 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice

For the topping

  • 85 g butter – very soft
  • 75 g light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp/45ml milk
  • 150 g sweet shredded coconut
  • 50 g coconut flakes
  • 75 g walnuts, chopped


  1. Stir together the oats, water and milk and leave for 20 minutes.
  2. Place the sultanas in a bowl and cover with just boiled water.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 175C/ 350F and grease or paper a 9″ square pan.
  4. Drain the sultanas.
  5. Mix the salt, butter, shredded carrots, sultanas, sugar and vanilla into the oats and blend with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  6. Beat in the eggs and coconut blending well.
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and stir until just mixed.
  8. Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for 30 mins or until just set.
  9. In the meantime, make the topping by combining all the ingredients.
  10. When the cake is ready, turn on the grill (broiler).
  11. Spread the topping as evenly as you can over the warm cake.
  12. Grill/broil for about a minute or two until it is lightly golden…the topping burns very easily so don’t walk away like I did (to write up this post!).
  13. Cool in the tin on a wire rack.




Hot Cross Saffron Scones

hot_cross_saffron_sconesA twist on the traditional buns, these scones make a nice change and come together very quickly unlike their yeasted cousins. I mis-read the original recipe and used a larger cutter to stamp the rounds out with – therefore, these are not very thick but I rather liked the way they turned out.


Start by steeping the saffron – you don’t need a lot of this gorgeous spice to get a huge amount of flavour, heady perfume and colour. Also get the crosses ready – having the scone dough waiting while you do this later will not be doing it any favours! I have detailed the order of play in the instructions below.


Rub the butter into the flour – it should be a bit lumpy. You could do this step in a food processor but as it is the only time you will need to use it for this recipe, I think it is a bit of a waste of time. By the time you have got it out and set up, you can have the step done by hand. Then mix in the sugar, fruit and spices. Whisk the liquids and add to the flour mix.hot_cross_saffron_scones

Gently bring the dough together in the mixing bowl. lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough.


Stamp out the rounds and place on the prepared tray


Brush with milk, place the crosses and brush with milk again.


Glaze with the sugar syrup while they are still hot!

hot_cross_saffron_sconesEat buttered and warm.

Not only is is Good Friday but it’s also Fiesta Friday over at Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener. Time to join the party with these scrumptious scones in hand!  See ya there…


Click on the link to be taken to Angie’s wonderful blog The Novice Gardener and join the party! Mix and mingle with the the guests – who knows who you might meet!

If you blog and would like to join the party, here are the guidelines

Hot Cross Saffron Scones

  • Servings: 8 - 9 scones
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Hot Cross Scones by Silvana Franco for Delicious Magazine


For the crosses

  • 50g flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water

For the scones

  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 teaspoons just boiled water
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 75g room temperature butter
  • 40g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons milk

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons just boiled water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F and line a baking sheet with paper.
  2. Crumble the saffron strands into a small glass and add 2 teaspoons of boiling water – set aside to steep.
  3. Make the crosses by stirring in the water into the flour and kneading until it comes together as a dough. Cover and set aside to rest.
  4. Place the self raising flour in a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs – you want to have some tiny lumps of butter to make the scones tender…
  5. Stir in the sugar, sultans, mixed peel, and nutmeg – make sure all is evenly distributed.
  6. Roll out the dough for the crosses and slice into enough strips to make the crosses. You should have more that you need. Put on a plate and cover.
  7. Lightly whisk the egg then add the milk and the saffron and whisk again.
  8. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the egg mix and with a light hand, bring it together to form a dough. Do not over mix or the scones will be tough.
  9. Lightly flour your work surface and tip out the dough. Lightly flour the top and pat it into an oblong shape and gently roll out – mime ended up being 2 cm thick.
  10. Stamp out 8 or 9 3 inch rounds – I got 6 then with the trimmings, I patted them together gently, divided into three and hand-formed 3 more scones.
  11. Brush the tops with a little milk and form the crosses on them and brush them with milk too.
  12. Place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
  13. In the meantime mix the sugar and water to make the glaze
  14. Once the scones are done, brush with the glaze.
  15. Eat warm and buttered!