Christmas Party Baking

Tin of mince pies.

Tin of mince pies

Last weekend we threw a little Christmas soirée (well mulled wine and mince pies) and that involved a lot of baking on my part.

On the menu were mince pies, bread sticks, bread shots and more pfeffernüsse.

Mince Pies

I rarely make my own mincemeat for mince pies, not because I think it is too much effort, but mainly because I never remember in time.

So my usual trick is to customise good quality shop bought mincemeat. So taking two jars I added some extra raisins, glacé cherries, crystallised ginger , brandy and spices.

Obviously I make my own pasty for them, with a couple of extra twists, ground almonds and orange zest. Taken from a BBC Food recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g Plain flour
  • 125 g Cold butter
  • 40 g Caster sugar
  • 75 g Ground almonds
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Method:

Usual method. Make breadcrumbs out of the flour, butter, sugar and almonds. Then mix in the zest and the beaten egg. Work into a dough and chill in the fridge over night.

Now I like my mince pies to have a very thin pastry, with a largely open top (I favour stars). So I roll the dough out quite thin.

The recipe this came from says it makes 12 mince pies. I made about 30 from this quantity. As I say, thin (about 3 mm) and open. I actually doubled this recipe and made 60 (but ran out of mincemeat near the end so made the remaining 12 as jam tarts, equally good).

Cut out the shapes, and place in an oiled cake tray, pressing the pastry lightly into the hole, trying to remove any trapped air. Then prick the pastry a few times with a fork. Fill with a small amount of mincemeat, about 1 tsp, the place a star or whatever else shape you have for a lid. Lightly brush with milk and bake for about 10 minutes in a hot oven.

I really like them like this, small and crumbly, it justifies eating a few of them, I really think the orange zest and almonds make a world of difference.

Bread Sticks and Bread Shots

This is the second time I have made the bread sticks before, but I had a bit of an incident with them sticking to the baking paper as they were transported to a dinner party. The bread shots were a new attempt. Both of these recipes come from Richard Bertinet’s book Dough, which I still maintain is one of the best books out there).

The interesting thing here was that I wanted to make them in advance of the party, so I made them a week early par baked them, then froze them. Then on the morning of the party I defrosted them and finished them off in the oven. It worked perfectly.

For the bread sticks I made poppy seed, cheese and herb and star anise.

For the bread shots I made, parmesan, olive, walnut, roasted garlic and pine nuts. In my opinion the bread shots came out a bit big, 2-3 bites where I really wanted 1-2, lessen learnt for next time.

Hors d’oeuvres

In addition to the rest of the food I made a plate of little hors d’oeuvres. Made caramelised red onion and brie tartlets (again from BBC Food – here).

We made them slightly smaller (in turn making more for the same ingredients) and they were an absolute success. Note ours had a flat pasty base, rather than a traditional tartlet curve.

We also made a selection of smoked salmon and Philadelphia blinis.

Cheers and happy Christmas,

Olly

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