Mince Pies


I love mince pies. It’s only really acceptable to eat them around Christmastime and the fact they aren’t a year round treat makes them all the more delicious. I made Nigella’s cranberry mincemeat last year, it was alright for a change but I prefer darker more traditional mincemeat. I used two types of pastry; some leftover from a bakewell tart and some that was specifically for mince pies. The mince pie pastry was much richer and shorter and the soft almond flavour really complimented the fruitiness of the mincemeat.

For the mincemeat:

  •  275g currants
  • 100g tart dried cherries
  • 250g raisins
  • 100g dried fruit
  • 1 bramley apple
  • 2 dessert apples (bog standard eating apples)
  • 1 lemon – Zest and juice
  • 50g butter
  • 250ml stout
  • 3 tbsp rum or brandy (or to your own taste)
  • 300g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp each of ground mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves  (you can change the spices up as you like but I really liked this combination in my Christmas cake so used it here too.)

Tip: Don’t use a normal apple in place of bramley apple as it won’t fall apart and make that lovely thick sauce.

Peel, core and grate your bramley apple

Heat the apple in a pan along with the brown sugar and stout.


Bring to the boil then simmer gently until the apple has started to dissolve making a lovely thick sauce.

While that’s simmering peel, core and finely dice your dessert apples (cox, braeburn, royal gala whatever you fancy).

Add your chopped apples, fruit, spices and finally butter to the saucepan.

Continue to gently heat until you have a thick mincemeat.

Allow the mincemeat to cool until just warm before adding your brandy or rum, stir well and let it cool completely before making the pies.

You can use this mincemeat immediately or store it for a while. I left mine for a couple of days before making mince pies but that’s because I didn’t have time on the day.

 For the pastry:

  • 75 caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g butter
  • 75 – 100g cream cheese
  • 50g almonds

Just as you would with normal pastry start by rubbing together the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder.

Once that’s well rubbed in and you have fine crumbs, add the cream cheese and almonds and repeat until you have a smooth dough.

Chill your dough for at least 30 minutes before using.

Once chilled roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper, I find this easiest because it doesn’t stick – I lightly dust the sheets with icing sugar as well.

Roll it out to be about ½ cm thick.
I made 8 mince pies from this pastry but could have easily made 10 even with the holly decoration.

Using a circular cutter (or the bottom of an appropriate sized cup if you haven’t got one) cut out circles of pastry big enough to line your muffin/bun tin– approximately 8 – 10 cm depending on what kind of tin you use.

Use a slightly smaller cutter, or cup, to cut the same number of tops for your pies.

At this point the pastry has been quite worked and is a bit soft so I chilled mine in the fridge for 5 minutes before pressing it into the tins.

Spoon in your mincemeat, most bakers say ¾ full but my pies were quite shallow so I did them right to the brim. I ‘ve said it before about fruity pies, there’s nothing worse than a lack of fruit! I don’t want a mince pie with barely there mincemeat.


Dip your finger in cold water and run it along the edges of the pastry before pressing the tops of the pies on and pinching to seal.

Make a couple of little slits in the tops of the pies a knife to allow steam come out of the pies as they cook (you might end up with soggy tops if you don’t).


I decorated mine with bits of leftover pastry, but you could just as easily leave them undecorated and dust with icing sugar once cooked.


Cook for 20 – 25 minutes at 200C

Pastry is very temperamental in my oven so I stuck to the minimum cooking time and checked them a lot. Luckily they were a success, there wasn’t a soggy bottom in sight.


Halloween Pumpkin Cake

A little bit late but if you’ve still got left over pumpkin give this a go. 

Halloween in my house involved an awful lot of pumpkin carving and as a result, about 6 kilos of pumpkin flesh to work with. I attempted a soup but it was absolutely horrendous so there was dinner out the window. The only way to redeem my kitchen failures, and feed myself, was with a decent bake… Obviously. I had friends coming round so I didn’t eat the whole thing to myself but I had a sizeable chunk and it was good. Judging by the fact that, within a couple of hours only half of it was left between five of us I think it was a success.


For the cake:

  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of 1 orange + 1 tbsp juice
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 300 g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3tsp mixed spice
  • 200g sultanas (original recipe says 175 but I love sultanas and went a bit overboard)
  • 500g raw, grated pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 160C and prepare a 30 x 20cm baking tray.

Melt the butter slowly in a saucepan and set aside.

Weigh out the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix it up evenly.

Break the eggs into a bowl and break up the yolks lightly before beating in to the cooled butter along with the orange zest and juice.

Add the wet mix to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to just combine.

Add the pumpkin and again mix until just combined.

Cook for approximately an hour. The cooking time depends on the moisture in the cake. Some of my pumpkin was pretty much puree and some wasn’t, I also had extra sultanas in there and my tin was 25 x 25 so my cake took about 1hr 10 mins total.

Once the cake is done allow it to cool in the tin (10 minutes) before turning onto a wire rack. Prick the cake all over and pour over the remaining orange juice, save a tablespoon or so for the icing.



 Check the cake after 30 mins and if it’s already browning on the top, but still wet inside, cover it with tinfoil to prevent it getting too dark.

Let your cake cool for a good ten minutes in the tin before attempting to turn it onto a wire rack, it’s so moist it’ll easily fall apart.

Don’t attempt to cut the cake until it’s completely cooled. I was far too anxious to see if it had worked and tried a little corner slice.  It was so soft I just sort of mutilated the side of the cake. Rest assured, it doesn’t stay mush!

Orange cream cheese frosting:

The cake really doesn’t need icing, all the pumpkin and sultanas mean it’s really moist already but fruity cakes and citrusy cream cheese frosting are always a winning combination.

I used the same recipe as I did for the banana butterscotch cake but used orange juice and zest instead of lemon

Again, I used half the quantity and had more than enough to cover the cake.

  • 200g cream cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 – 3 tbsp orange juice
  • zest of an orange

Beat the butter sugar, orange juice and zest with half of the cream cheese until smooth.

Add the rest of the cream cheese and beat until smooth, not too long or the icing will go runny.

Spread generously all over the cake.


Original recipe from : http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4777/halloween-pumpkin-cake