For years, I have been a mince pie loather. But my festive cheer was never enhanced by mincemeat delights until I came across this recipe from Josceline Dimbleby. For the past few years I have cheerfully bashed these out in the kitchen, and feasted even more cheerfully upon the results.
This year, I have created a mince pie mish mash. You can’t call them pies. They are soggy bottomed, overly browned and have exploded. Paul Hollywood would be horrified.
I made the pastry yesterday, and carefully double wrapped it and left it in the fridge until this evening. So far, so last year. Then, my mother arrived with a large box of mincemeat. She makes her own, not something I have ever gotten around to, having discovered the contents of an M&S jar did the job perfectly. And this year, she has found a new recipe, which apparently contains butter not suet. Whatever floats your boat, thinks I, and takes a sniff – it’s scrummy.
Tonight, I assemble the required tools, making sure to double wash the pastry brush, which the smallest Petite Pomme has taken a shine to and regularly uses as a facial tickling stick and toothing chew. I get the pastry out of the fridge only to discover an orange film on the surface. Hey ho, and chuck in a bit more flour.
It stuck, to everything. The microwave, the rolling pin, my apron, an inquisitive Boodle. I couldn’t get it thin enough, so resorted to squishing it out in the tin with my fingers.
Then came the mincemeat. And to my horror, the new and much venerated recipe contains cherries. CHERRIES.
I loathe cherries, as anyone who knows me is aware. Right up there with rhubarb as one of my most revolting foods of all time. I won’t eat fruit cake as it usually contains the little red terrors.
So I’m covered in pastry, sticky of finger, and I realise I can’t even eat the damn mince pies.
This may, may, have changed my attitude to the rest of the mince pie process. The mascarpone was flung in, the tops flipped on, and the milk swirled rather too liberally over the top before I put them in the oven.
They have rather expanded. You could say that their festive spread is upon them. If they had to squeeze into a party frock, there would be burst zips and unforgiving underwear lines telling of nights sitting on the sofa eating chocolate.
I’m not even going to post a photo of them. An Everest of icing sugar is required to make them anywhere near presentable.
It’s probably a good job I’m not going to eat any of them then.