Mince pies: A classic holiday sweet from London
Throughout the holiday season, every guest who stays at our landmark hotel is greeted with a gift of clementines and a small glass cloche of mince pies, said Martyn Nail in Claridge’s: The Cookbook (Mitchell Beazley). My team bakes about 1,000 of the sweets a day, but you’ll probably not want to buy so many mince pie baking trays. Plan ahead, too, because mincemeat needs a week to mature.
Recipe of the week
Claridge’s mince pies
For the mincemeat:
2 Granny Smith apples
2 heaping tbsp raisins
1½ cups currants
½ cup candied peel
2 tbsp each brandy and rum
1 tbsp Grand Marnier
1½ cups light brown sugar
6 tbsp shredded suet (or vegetable shortening)
1 tsp each ground nutmeg, ginger, and cloves
½ tsp ground coriander
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and frozen
For the pastry:
3½ cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup ice-cold water
½ tsp white wine vinegar
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of cream, for egg wash
Superfine sugar, for dusting
To make mincemeat: Zest and juice orange. Cut pith and pulp into small pieces, place in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until soft, about 1 hour, adding water as needed to cover. Drain, then puree in a blender with juice and zest. Set aside. Grate apples into a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except butter, mix well, and stir in orange puree. Refrigerate at least a week in a covered container.
To make pastry: Place flour, salt, and butter in a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter into flour until no piece of floury fat is bigger than a pea. Gently mix in water and vinegar. Turn dough onto work surface; gently knead 2 or 3 times. Pat into a disc, wrap tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. (Dough will keep a couple of days.)
To assemble pies: On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a large circle about 1⁄16-inch thick. Cut out a 2.-inch round, check fit, then cut 23 more and use to line cups of mince pie trays. Cut 24 smaller rounds or stars for lids and lay on a flat tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate trays for 15–20 minutes to chill.
Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, mix mincemeat with frozen butter cubes. Remove pie trays from fridge and spoon no more than 1 tbsp mincemeat into each case. (You’ll have extra.) Place pastry lids on top of pies and press to seal. Brush with egg wash.
Bake pies until golden, about 20 minutes. Dust heavily with superfine sugar and transfer to a rack to cool. Makes 2 dozen.