Apart from ginger flavoured baked products, my other favourite thing about Christmas is that it is socially acceptable to eat tiny baked people.
I feel that eating such people head first is the kindest way, because it ensures a clean and quick end to their misery, and is also the weakest point of the biscuit.
Given how I feel about this, you’d think I would be the first to blog about the spiciest gingerbread (people) biscuits, but the fact is that I haven’t yet found a homemade gingerbread biscuit that I liked. I enjoy eating gingerbread biscuits that other people have made, but if I’m going to make them myself, I want something really dark and spicy. And crisp, not cakey or chewy. So, in lieu of gingerbread people, I get my eating-tiny-people fix from other other baked goods.
But. As with all baked goods requiring the use of cutters, mince pies are a pain in the behind.
First you mix up the crust dough, then you chill it. Then you take it out and roll it a bit. It refuses to cooperate and sticks to the table because you used too little flour on the surface and it’s warm outside. You put it back in the fridge. Repeat this about 6 to 8 times, and you will feel how I feel about making biscuit cutter snacks.
I think it’s something about Christmas, I magically forget every year what complete bullocks these types of foods are to make and how they take 3 hours or more and how I get so sweaty and angry that I very seriously consider feeding the remainder of the raw dough to my dog (try not to do that, it might not be good for dogs depending on what you’ve made).
I suspect it’s because I usually freeze my mince pies after baking them earlier in December, so by the time I get to eat them on Christmas day, I have forgotten how much the process of making them irritated me.
Pretending to be an angry cannibal, ginger spice, and Christmas. Some things in life just go together.
Christmas Mince Pies
Crust adapted from the Patchwork Apple Pie recipe (doubled).
2 jars of mince pie filling – I used Robertsons, vegetarian and alcohol free
1 small red apple – the addition of apples is my way of bulking up the mince pie filling
1 small green apple
500g flour – I used gluten free
Zest of 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
250g butter – cold and cubed
2 large eggs
Extra flour for rolling
Egg wash – an egg beaten with a little milk
Copious amounts of patience
A cup of tea – to prolong aforementioned patience
Oven temperature: 180 degrees C, for half an hour
Yield: 36 mince pies – I had 24 large and 12 slightly smaller pies, as well as a little family of shortcrust people
- Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the lemon zest.
- In a food processor, pulse the butter cubes and flour mixture until the texture of the mixture looks like sand.
- Turn out into a bowl. Directly crack in the 2 eggs, and use your hands to get everything to stick together. You have to keep going for a quite a bit, I realise last time I probably stopped a bit early which is why my dough never came together.
- Cover dough and put it in the fridge to firm up.
- Peel and core your apples. Cut them into 8ths, then slice those 8ths into thin strips. Mix into the mince pie filling in a big bowl.
- Flour a surface and roll out your dough. You need quite a lot of flour because it’s a bit sticky, watch out!
- Use a round biscuit cutter / your mother’s fancy dinner party wine glass to cut out rounds. Put each into a hole in a greased cupcake tray and press in.
- Spoon in a little mince pie filling / apple mixture.
- Use a fun cutter to cut out the pie cover, and carefully place it on top of the filling. It doesn’t need to touch the sides of the pie, or be crimped or anything complicated. I used stars, hearts, trees, fat men, and spooky ladies. I have squirrel and snail cutters somewhere too but I couldn’t find them.
- Dab with egg wash, and stick it in the oven for half an hour.
- Cool in the cupcake tray.
Notes: freezes well in an airtight box layered with baking paper.