Christmas Cooking- My Favourite Recipes Reblogged – Mince Pies

I thought that I would re-run this post again as it is my favourite recipe for mince pies.

DISCLAIMER

I am not a professional cook. It’s not even really a hobby. The main time of the year that I bake is at Christmas because I love all the traditional British Christmas goodies and I get more pleasure out of making them than buying them as it brings back pleasant memories of past Christmases that I’ve shared with my family.

Mince Pies

I love mince pies and look forward to having them every Christmas. The shops usually start selling them months before Christmas but I like to make my own. I do remember mum teaching me to make these when I was in my early teens and I took charge of making them for our family when I was about fifteen. I don’t think I have ever missed a year. I’ve experimented with various recipes. I used to make them with sweet short crust pastry but I’ve never been a very good pastry cook. When I was first married mum gave me the first Margaret Fulton Cookbook and in it was a recipe for mince pies made with biscuit pastry. I liked it so much I have been using it ever since. Every year my battered old book comes out and I make two dozen mince pies which is enough for Hubby and me and for my sister to have a batch as well. They can be frozen if you want to make them ahead of Christmas.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (yes this is an old recipe) of butter. I sometimes use cooking margarine instead.
  • 2 ounces (1/3rd cup) castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder To my horror when I came to make these this morning I found I had no baking powder so as hubby was unavailable to go to the shop I substituted bi-carbonate of soda. Baking powder is basically bi-carb (baking soda) with some other salts in it so it will work the same way.
  • 1 jar fruit mince. (The book has a recipe for home-made fruit mince but I’m too lazy to make it.)
  • icing sugar

    image ingredients
    What you will need.

Method:

  • Cream butter and sugar well
  • Add  the egg and beat well
  • Sift flour with baking powder and stir into the mixture.

If you are lucky enough to have a food processor or mixer with a dough hook go ahead and use them. I don’t have either so I mix with my old Sunbeam hand mixer which I remember getting for my mum when I was about thirteen. There is a story to that but I’ll save it for another day. I mix the flour in with a knife and then with my fingers. This may be why I don’t make pastry too often. Still I’m better off than my grandmother. She did all her mixing with a wooden spoon or a fork. This Fork.

image bowl of butter and sugar
Cream butter and sugar
image creaming butter and sugar
creaming the butter and sugar
image adding flour to bowl
add the sifted flour and baking powder

After mixing the pastry you knead it lightly on a floured board. At this point Margaret Fulton says chill the pastry for one hour but I have to admit I skip this step. I used to do it but I found the pastry even harder to handle chilled so now I just get on with it. I should mention that Margaret Fulton is an Australian and the recipes in the book are probably designed for Australian conditions so maybe if you are in a cool climate the chilling is not so essential. As I said, I’m not a chef. So chill or don’t chill as you please. If my dough is crumbly I sometimes add a tablespoon of cold water  to the mixture too. I didn’t today though.

Roll out your pastry thinly and cut rounds to fit your patty pans. If you don’t have biscuit cutters a small glass is fine for this. Cut the same number of smaller circles for the tops. I digress from Margaret here and cut all mine the same size.

image pastry making
Roll thinly and cut rounds
  • Place your larger rounds, or just half of them if you made them all the same size, in greased patty tins and moisten the edges with beaten egg.
  • Fill each pie with 1 heaped teaspoon of fruit mince. I like the English-made Robertson’s Fruit Mince best. I’ve tried other brands but you can’t beat this one in my opinion. One jar of it will make 15-20 pies, that’s what the jar says and it is true. Of course if you don’t like them really fruity it  will go a lot further.
  • Make a small slit in each pastry top or cut centre with a small star-shaped cutter and put into place on top of the fruit mince. Press edges together to seal the pastry.
  • Brush with beaten egg to glaze.
image fill with fruit mince
Fill with fruit mince

Cook in a moderate oven, 350 Fahrenheit. I do them at about 175 Celsius for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar. Depending on how thinly you roll your pastry and the size of your patty tins you should get between 12-20 mince pies from this mixture. I tend to roll mine quite thick and I still usually get about 15.

image ready to bake mince pies
Glaze with beaten egg and bake
image mince pies
Mince Pies

Don’t forget to make a wish when you eat your first one for the year. We did a lot of wishing on things in our family.

 

More Mince Pies

 

 

Christmas Cooking – My Favourite Recipes Reblogged – White Christmas

Here is another post from  2014 when I shared some favourite Christmas recipes. I thought that I would share them all again this year for those that may not have seen them last time around. White Christmas is a great no-cook recipe.

White Christmas

Unlike the previous recipes in my Christmas Cooking series of posts White Christmas is a relatively new thing to me. I had never heard of it until I was well into my forties. It has become a firm favourite though and I sometimes make it to give as gifts to friends  as well as for the Christmas goodie basket I give my sister. It is very easy to make and doesn’t take long. In fact it’s so easy you could hardly even call it cooking.

I have two recipes for it to share with you.  One is made with copha and the other with white chocolate.

Go on, you have still got time to make some before Christmas.

Recipe One: submitted by austhome on www.allrecipes.com.au

Ingredients:

Serves: 6 

  • 3 cups Rice Bubbles
  • 1 cup dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup dry powdered milk
  • 3/4 cup of sifted icing sugar
  • 225 grams copha
  • drop of vanilla essence

Method:

Preparation:10min  ›  Cook:10min  ›  Ready in:20min 

  1. Put 3 cups of rice bubbles, 1 cup of mixed fruit, desiccated coconut, dry powdered milk and 3/4 sifted icing sugar in a bowl.
  2. Melt copha in saucepan. Add copha to dry ingredients in bowl and mix well.
  3. Press mixture firmly into a biscuit tray. Set in a refrigerator. Cut into squares.

    Mix the dry ingredients
    Mix the dry ingredients
Press into a biscuit tin
Press into a biscuit tin
White Christmas, this is the version made with copha.
White Christmas, this is the version made with copha.

It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Recipe Two: White Christmas with white chocolate

Sadly I didn’t make a note of who came up with this recipe but it came from the internet, either from allrecipes.com.au or a similar site. It is delicious and my favourite of the two.

Ingredients:

  • 375 grams white chocolate melts
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup rice bubbles
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup dry powdered milk – skim or full cream as you prefer
  • 1/4 cup halved glace cherries (optional).

Method:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof  bowl over a pot of simmering water, don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water.
  2. Boil the cream in a small saucepan
  3. Mix the dried fruit, rice bubbles, coconut and milk powder into the melted chocolate.
  4. Stir in the cream and cherries and mix together carefully until well combined.
  5. Press into the tin and allow to set at room temperature (should take about an hour).

Cut into small squares with a knife dipped in boiling water.

This can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

I’m dreaming of more White Christmas:

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/8738/white-christmas-made-with-white-chocolate

http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2007/11/white-christmas-recipe.html

http://www.bakers-corner.com.au/recipes/slices/rocky-road/fruitless-white-christmas/

The food dish "White Christmas"
The food dish “White Christmas” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas Cooking – My Favourite Recipes Reblogged – Rich Fruit Cake

This is my favourite Christmas Cake recipe. I love rich fruit cake so I will probably make one this year. I’m not so good at cake decorating so I usually top mine with nuts but it is a very good cake to ice and decorate not just for Christmas but would probably work nicely as a wedding cake too as it keeps well.

Christmas Cake

This rich fruit cake is very easy to make and although I like to make it ahead you don’t really have to. It’s just as nice if you make it the night before Christmas, but do allow sufficient time for baking. I first found it in the Australian Women’s Weekly (published monthly) of November 2006 and I have been using it ever since. The measurements are in metric and I have included a couple of conversion charts as links for readers overseas.

Fruit Cake Recipe
Fruit Cake Recipe

Night Before Quick Mix Christmas Cake

Sizes:

The mixture will make either:

  • one large cake in a 22cm round or 19cm square deep cake tin
  • two smaller ones in either a 17cm round or 15cm square tins
  • four small cakes in 12.5cm round or 9.5 cm square tins

Ingredients:

image ingredients for Christmas Cake
Ingredients for Christmas Cake
  • 475 gram jar of fruit mince
  • 750 grams dried mixed fruit
  • 125 ml/  1/2 cup sweet sherry
  • 250 grams butter/cooking margarine, melted and cooled
  • 200 grams/ 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs beaten lightly
  • 300 grams/2 cups plain flour
  • 150 grams/ 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • blanched  whole almonds, pecans, Macadamia and walnuts to decorate

Note: If you don’t have sherry you  can use brandy or rum or for a non alcoholic cake use 2 tablespoons of  brandy or run essence combined with 1/3 cup of orange juice.

Preparations:

Read the instructions before you go any further. One or two of these things need to cool before you can use them and planning ahead saves time.  Melt the butter and heat the fruit first. While you are waiting for them to cool you can prepare the baking tin as follows:

Line the tin with two layers of brown paper and two layers of baking paper. Extend the paper 5cm above the top of the tin. I have never seen brown paper being sold by the roll around here so getting brown paper is a bit of a problem. Usually my hoarding instinct saves me and if I get anything wrapped in brown paper during the course of the year I save it. A couple of years ago I was volunteering at our local radio station and one of the sponsors sent round some goods to be used as raffle prizes in brown paper bags. After the bags were no longer needed I asked if I could have them so  I have a good supply of brown paper for the next couple of years. If you really can’t get any brown paper just use extra baking paper instead.

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius or if you have a fan forced oven 120 Celsius is fine.

Method:

image fruit soaking
Soaking the fruit

Combine the dried fruit, fruit mince and sherry in a large microwave safe bowl and heat it, covered, on HIGH (100%) for 4 minutes, stirring once. Cool, uncovered, for half an hour.

Stir in the cooled, melted butter and sugar until combined. By the way if you don’t have dark brown sugar I’ve done it with light and it turns out fine.

Stir in the eggs and the sifted dry ingredients.

Spread mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top.

image uncooked fruit cake
Cake about to go into the oven

In my recipe you can then decorate the top with nuts before putting it into the oven. If you prefer not to have nuts skip this step and you can ice the cake later.

Cooking Times:

This may vary according to your oven of course.

  • For 1 large cake 3 1/2 – 4 hours
  • For 2 medium-sized cakes 2 – 2 1/2 hours
  • For 4 small cakes 1 3/4 – 2 hours

Remove cake from the oven and brush it with more sherry. Cover the hot cake with foil and wrap it in a large towel. Leave it to cool in the tin overnight.

image fruit cake with nuts
Fruit cake decorated with nuts.
image fruit cake
After cooling overnight in the tin the cake is turned out.

 

Daily Prompt: Simply Irresistible

Our Daily Bread

Bread
Bread (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

The food that I find the hardest to resist is bread. I cannot imagine life without it.  I start my day with two slices of toast for breakfast. My dog looks on hoping for a crumb or two. I’m afraid I started her on this bad habit myself as I had always shared my breakfast with our previous dog. She was the only one who was ever awake at 6am when I got up for work. I’m always hungry when I wake up so Cindy doesn’t get much.

When I was a child mum used to tell us that we must eat our bread and butter before we could have any cake and that eating your crusts made your hair curl. Even now I can never understand people who cut the crusts off their bread. It’s the best part I think and yes, I do have curly hair. My sister who never liked them has straight hair. On Sunday mornings we would have fried bread with our bacon and eggs. I have to admit I rarely make this now but I do like it.

Traditional British fried bread
Traditional British fried bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mum used to make a delicious bread pudding from stale bread sometimes. I wish I could find the recipe for it. I used to have it; not that we ever seem to have bread long enough for it to get stale at our house. I think Bread Pudding must be a very English thing. People here don’t seem to know much about it. It’s not the same as Bread and Butter Pudding. I remember that you have to tear up the bread into small pieces. This recipe sounds the closest to it although I think mum just used caster sugar. It was something you made with what you had in the house to use up the left over bread.

Sandwiches and rolls were what I lived on when I was working. I’d either take some from home or buy them at work. Hubby makes great toasted sandwiches in the sandwich toaster I bought him too.

I would not dream of eating soup without bread. I will eat white bread but I really prefer wholemeal or multi grain bread and I love rolls. Croissants are nice too but they are a treat. I like to have them for breakfast when we travel on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry to or from Melbourne.

I also like the flat bread used in wraps. My favourite place to get lunch if I’m in Hobart for the day is Ready4Lunch where you can get a salad wrap with just about anything in it you can think of in it.

Food project 16 - Baba ganouj wrap
Food project 16 – Baba ganouj wrap (Photo credit: dimitridf)

I’ve made my own bread from time to time with varying degrees of success. Getting it to rise correctly is the part I have the most trouble with. I’ve done it by hand and with a bread maker. But making bread doesn’t really save a lot of money. We like it so much we eat more of it!

Bread dough which has risen and is ready to go...
Bread dough which has risen and is ready to go in the oven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)