It’s a crisp December morning and there is frost on the ground today. We’ve officially entered advent and that means that we can eat mince pies to our heart’s content because…well it is the season to do so!
I’m one of those people who only eat mince pies at Christmas and Hot Cross Buns at Easter and not all year round, even if they are available. Eating them in the season they were intended is what makes them so special and a hallmark of the season.
There is something quite lovely about festive baking don’t you think?
It’s the gentle glow of candlelight or twinkling fairy lights, the soft strains of something festive playing on the radio and the knowledge that you are following in age-old festive traditions that have been kept by millions of housewives through the ages as they make delicious delicacies that will delight their loved ones and friends.
In our home, once December rolls in, mince pie season is officially open.
I bake at least a dozen mince pies a week. This year I decided to do something a bit different with my pastry, I added some orange zest.
Oh my goodness! This simple addition takes an ordinary mince pie and turns it into a luxury mince pie!
My kitchen smells so Christmassy as I zest the orange, and don’t you think that those beautiful golden flecks look so pretty?
I know that you can buy mince pies for very little but after a taste test of sorts, my family agree that a homemade mince pie, especially with this luxurious addition to my pastry, is far better than anything store-bought.
The added bonus is that homely, comforting feeling that comes from the aroma of baking as it drifts from the kitchen through the rest of the home.
I’ve included my recipe at the end of the post for you if you fancy giving this orange sweet shortcrust pastry a go.
I’ve doubled my normal recipe which means that you should be able to get about 24 mince pies out of it. I usually only bake a dozen at a time to ensure that we always have fresh mince pies to nibble on.
I wrap the excess dough in cling wrap and pop it into the fridge as needed. If you don’t go through mince pies as quickly as we do then you can wrap the excess dough in cling wrap and pop it into the freezer instead. Just take it out to thaw a few hours before you want to bake up a batch of mince pies.
Of course, you could double the recipe and divide your dough into 4, wrap each ball individually and freeze. That way you can just whip out the dough, thaw, roll and get cracking with your mince pies rather than have to make dough every week. It’s a great time-saver.
Citrus Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
50g castor sugar
3 extra-large egg yolks
60 ml water
Zest from one orange
- Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into 1.5cm cubes and distribute evenly over the flour.
Rub the fat lightly into the flour with your fingertips, lifting up the mixture while rubbing to keep as cool as possible.
- Add the sugar and orange zest and mix in well.
- Beat the egg yolks together and mix in the cold water, then make a well in the centre of the flour and stir in the egg and water mixture with a knife to produce a soft dough.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured board and knead gently until it is pliable and free from cracks. Roll out to the required thickness.
* Halve the ingredients if you will just be needing a base for a pie.* Bake at 180 degrees C
- I place all the ingredients in a food processor and using the blade fitting, pulse the dry ingredients and the butter together. Add the water and run the food processor until all the ingredients are just combined. Makes for a quick, no-fuss pastry.