It seems hard to believe now, but this time last year, I was making my first ever batch of pastry.
Yep – ever.
I was pretty new to baking, and after trying my first ever mince pies a couple of weeks before (yep – ever. I know; such a deprived child), I decided I’d like to make my own. The prospect of making mincemeat and my own pastry was far too daunting, so it was Asda’s own that went into my pies – and very nice they were, too!
But after nailing pastry, and conquering my fear of pickling and preserving a few weeks ago with homemade chutneys for Christmas gifts, I’ve been looking forward to making my own mince meat – and more importantly, my first batch of crumbly, buttery, mince pies (drool) – ever since.
I was searching for a recipe that was a little lighter and juicier than your traditional mincemeat with darker dried fruits, and this one is adapted from a recipe from Good Food magazine.
I absolutely love the glorious jewel-like colours of the berries, those wonderful autumnal spices I’ve been wholeheartedly sprinkling in just about everything I eat – sweet or savoury- for the past two months, and the warming boozy kick.
I’m trying to hold December to make my first batch of mince pies this year – mainlyI will want to bake them every two days, and don’t want to put on a stone before Christmas has even started. But I’m not making any promises. Alex and I just tasted a spoonful and his exact words were:
‘MMMMMM. That’s the best mincemeat I think I’ve ever eaten. Bake some mince pies now…please?’
You have been warned…
Very berry mincemeat
Makes four 370g jars.
- 225g sultanas
- 200g raisins
- 200g dried mixed berries – e.g. cranberries, cherries (I used asda’s ‘cherry berry’ mix)
- 50g dried apricots
- 100g mixed peel
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- 125g butter, cut me into cubes
- 1 medium cooking apple, peeled and cored
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 200ml brandy/sherry or apple juice if you prefer
- Put all the ingredients, except the alcohol, into a large pan and heat gently. Let the butter melt and simmer, very gently, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely, then add the brandy, sherry, or apple juice.
- Spoon into sterilised jars (I share my way of doing it here), seal tightly, and store in a cool place.
It’s as easy as that!
Leave this for at least a day for the fruit to soak up the booze and the flavour to mature.