Well our Christmas tree has been up for a while now. I caught the Christmas bug early so decked the halls, the living room and pretty much anything I could with Christmas decorations. No boughs of holly though... hard to come by if they don't grow in your front garden.
I've noticed that people do grow holly here (mainly in front of their houses - I ain't no peeper) and it looks beautiful. I'm adding that to my growing list of house envy that I seem to get a lot. It's not so bad now because I'm still quite in love with our flat and the only thing we really need to do is kit out the spare room.
But people in our building seem really friendly. Me being me, I would send out invitations to everyone in the block to come in and eat cake... but our flat isn't THAT big. We do have some incredibly cute little girls who live in the flat downstairs with their very friendly mum and one of the cuties gave us a jar of flowers because she fancied herself a florist. Well, that just means I need to bake more treats.
I started soaking my mince pie filling in January but you can use it after a week, especially if you boil it.
100g golden raisins
2 large green apples, peel on, diced small
200g soft brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
300ml dark spiced rum
For the pastry:
275g plain flour
8 tbsp water
1 beaten egg (for wash)
There are two ways to make the mince pie filling. You will have noticed that there is no suet in mine. Personally, I don't think it needs suet but see what you think after making these.
Method 1 - Mix all of the fruit, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl until it's well combined. Pour it all into an airtight jar and add the rum. Soak for at least 10 months and it will be ready for next Christmas.
Method 2 - Add all of the filling ingredients to a saucepan and boil for 8 minutes, stirring every so often so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cool completely and pour into an airtight jar. Leave to soak for a week before you put them into pies. This can also be left until next year if you really want.
For the pastry, rub the butter and flour together until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Add the water and bring it all together to form a dough. Split the dough into two balls and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough a ball at a time until it's about 1 cm thick. You can either cut the traditional round shape and put the bases in greased cupcake tins or you can use a biscuit cutter to make Christmassy shapes. I used Christmas trees. Remember, if you make the traditional pies, the lids are a size or two smaller than the bases when you cut them.
Wash the lids/tops of the pies with the beaten egg and sprinkle a teeny tiny bit with caster sugar. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, dust with some icing sugar. Merry Christmas!