It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas…Quite simply, it doesn’t matter how many taste test competitions magazines run (spoiler: Lidl or Aldi always win), there is no mince pie like a homemade mince pie. Commercial pastry is too sweet, and even just spooning supermarket mincemeat into homemade pastry makes all the difference. I’ve never gone the whole hog and made the stuff from scratch before: though it might look like it takes ages, I was pleasantly surprised to find that actual hands-on time is very limited.
There’s no need for Christmas-spiced candles with this in the oven: if you’re looking for something to kick-start that festive feeling, this will do the trick.
juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 apple, peeled and grated (not including the core)
50g dates, finely chopped
100g shredded beef or vegetable suet (I used beef, leftover from making Xmas puds)
250g raisins/sultanas/currants (preferably a mixture)
100g candied peel, finely chopped
50g preserved ginger in syrup/crystallised ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger syrup, or golden syrup if you’ve used crystallised ginger Note: make sure you buy good quality ginger in syrup, so the syrup is actually made of sugar and not glucose-fructose syrup or something similarly horrible
1 teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons brandy
25g finely chopped flaked almonds
Combine all the ingredients except the brandy, ginger syrup and almonds. Set aside to macerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 120C. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and cook for 1 hr 45 minutes, stirring after an hour. Remove, immediately add the brandy, syrup and almonds and give it a good stir.
Leave to cool, then if any fat has separated out mix well to re-combine.
Transfer to sterilised jars to use straight away, or place wax paper on the top and store for up to six months.