A Countdown to Christmas Recipe:
Sugar Frosted Orange & Brandy Mince Pies
Nestled in the pantry amongst all my other tins and trays are two very special pie tins, or patty tins as they are sometimes known; belonging to me now, they were my grandmother’s and I treasure them more than anything else in my kitchen. Old and battered they may be, but they make the most amazing Mince Pies and other pastry favourites such as butter tarts, jam tarts and small savoury hand pies – they have beautiful shell and leaf patterns that are embossed on to any pastry case you bake in them, and their non-Teflon tin finish makes sure that there are no soggy bottoms too! Although I do use them throughout the year, I take them out with a special reverence at Christmastime for my mince-pie making sessions, and the memories of a dearly loved grandma and her warm, cosy kitchen come flooding back with such an intensity, that I can almost hear her telling me to make sure I wash my hands before I start to help her in the kitchen.
Whereas the tins used to be my grandmother’s, the basic pastry recipe I am sharing today is based on my mum’s shortcrust pastry, and is made with self-raising flour and NOT plain flour; this results in a lighter, fluffier pastry that is light and buttery, and softer than usual. Mum also adds orange zest and juice to her pastry sometimes too, but I am known for my Sugar Frosted Orange & Brandy Mince Pies that uses a tangy orange pastry, and I am asked to make them every year. Basically, I glaze my pastry lids with beaten egg white and a dusting of caster sugar before baking them, and this creates a light almost meringue style finish with a crunchy coating of frosted sugar on top – very seasonal and also very pretty too.
I am not a “Mince Pie Tweaker”, I have made other types of mince pies in the past, but it is my plain, unadulterated classic pies that I keep coming back to every year, and this recipe belongs to that culinary canon of “tried and tested” recipes that my family and friends like. I also like to snip the tops of my pies with a pair of scissors, to make a small cross shape, it makes the pies look almost Victorian, and again, I can remember my grandmother doing this to all her pastry lids too. These mince pies can still be made ahead of time, and then popped into the freezer UNCOOKED and IN their trays, wait until they are frozen, then ease them out of the tins (which is very easy if you have greased and buttered them) and store them in a sealed container or freezer bag until you need them. When you want to bake them, take them out of the freezer and sit them back in the pie tin, allow them to come back to room temperature for half and hour and then bake them as usual.
This is my third recipe in my “Countdown to Christmas Recipe mini series” and I hope that you all enjoy them as much as we do. Today is the last Sunday in Advent, so we will be lighting our fourth candle – it’s also the last day I plan to have in the kitchen baking and prepping before the “big day”. If you are still getting ready for Christmas, then this is the perfect time to make these little mince pies, either to eat now or the pop in the freezer for next week. Have a wonderful day and I will be back with my LAST “Countdown to Christmas Recipe” soon, as well as some new giveaways and kitchen tips and hints for the festive season. Karen
The other two recipes in my Countdown to Christmas Recipe mini series are:
NB: My mum and grandma always used to make a Mincemeat Pasty with any pastry that was left! I just had to share the one I made…..
Recipe for my Mincemeat is here: