I love Christmas. It is a brilliant time of the year for families and friends and good will. And of course good food too.
My Auntie Maureen is a retired home economics teacher and I think all of her students must be spreading the word about her fabulous Christmas baking. We have been using her recipes for years in the restaurant. They are tried, tested and most importantly loved and we will be sharing her Frangipane Mince Pie and Christmas Pudding Recipe in this blog.
We do have a recipe for gluten free pudding and it is very nice and light – if you want the recipe just pop an email off to the restaurant at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Frangipane Mince Pies go down a real treat and we make small little mini mince pies and serve them to guests. Frangipane is what you put into a bakewell tart and it is a lovely light alternative mince pie.
I also love giving these mini mince pies to friends and family. Made with love, thought and effort I think they make a lovely gift at Christmas time.
For both these recipes it is very important to buy good quality fruit.
For the pudding on christmas day slice it and warm it up in the microwave for a couple of seconds. It can be served with a rum custard and also some Christmas pudding ice cream or whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or all of the above – it is Christmas after all; enjoy yourself!
The mince pies are lovely with some cream or else with some Brandy butter – my mum used to love Brandy butter. Use equal quantities of butter and icing sugar and then lots of Brandy and the rind of an orange and you can add a vanilla pod too.
Here are the recipes. They have brought a lot of joy to our Christmas table and I hope they do the same for you.
Frangipane mince pies
I always freeze a large batch as I find them very handy to have over the Christmas period. For mincemeat that will keep well, use a firm, hard type of eating apple; juicy apples, such as Bramleys, may make the mixture too moist. If time allows leave it to stand for two days, then stir well and put into sterilised jars and cover (as for jam). Allow at least two weeks to mature before using and up to one year is fine.
Makes about 40
FOR THE MINCEMEAT
350g (12 oz) eating apples
225 g (8 oz) raisins
225 g (8 oz) sultanas
225 g (8 oz) currants
100 g (4 oz) mixed peel (preferably home made)
175 g (6 oz) almonds, chopped
175 g (6 oz) dark muscovado sugar
finely grated rind of 1 orange
finely grated rind 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
225 g (8 oz) butter
1/2 teaspoon whiskey
FOR THE PASTRY
100 g (4 oz) butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing
175 g (6 oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon cream
FOR THE ALMOND FILLING
225 g (8 oz) butter
225 g (8 oz) icing sugar
50 g (2 oz) plain flour
225 g (8 oz) ground almonds
large pinch ground cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out
icing sugar, to dust
whipped cream, to serve (optional)
To make the mincemeat, peel and core the apples, then coarsely grate. Place in a large bowl with the raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, almonds, sugar, orange and lemon rind, spices and salt. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pan and allow to cool slightly, then stir into the fruit mixture with the whiskey. Leave for two days to allow the flavours to develop, then pack into sterilised dry jars, seal and store in a cool, dark place.
To make the pastry, place the butter, flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds. Add the egg yolk and cream and blend again until the dough just comes together. Do not over work or the pastry will be tough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.
To make almond filling, using an electric beater, cream the butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Fold in the flour and almonds and then gradually beat in the eggs, cinnamon and vanilla seeds. Beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 40 rounds with a 7.5 cm (3 inch) fluted cutter. Line 6 cm (2 1/2 inch) patty tins with the pastry rounds and fill with the mincemeat. Spoon the almond filling on top to cover the mincemeat completely and place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To serve, arrange on plates and dust with icing sugar. Add a small dollop of whipped cream to each plate, if liked.
MacNean Special Plum Pudding
This pudding is a dense, rich and utterly mouth-watering dessert. In fact it’s so rich that I serve it with lightly whipped cream and not the traditional Brandy Butter. Of course you can serve it with either.
150 g / 6 oz raisins
150 g / 6 oz sultanas
50 g / 2 oz currants
½ small grated carrot
50 g / 2 oz mixed peel
½ teaspoon mixed spice
50 g / 2 oz chopped almonds
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
50 g / 2 oz flour
150 g / 6 oz breadcrumbs
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
150 g / 6 oz butter, melted
150 g / 6 oz soft brown sugar
10 fl oz Guinness
Sift together flour, mixed spice, nutmeg and cloves. Add breadcrumbs, raisins, sultanas, peel, almonds, apple, grated carrot and rind and juice of lemon and melted butter. Beat eggs and gradually add to mixture with Guinness. Mix thoroughly, cover with tea towel and leave overnight. Next day, place the mixture in 2 prepared 2 pint pudding bowls. Cover with greased paper and lid. Stand bowl in a large cake tin and fill the tin ¾ full of boiling water. Cover completely with foil.
Bake in a hot oven at 150°C / Gas 2 for 6-8 hours. Or you can steam for 6 hours in the usual way. Cool, cover again with greaseproof paper and store in a cool dry place. On Christmas day cover again with greased greaseproof paper and lid. Steam for 2-3 hours.
In a bowl or on a plate, with a dollop of lightly whipped cream or brandy custard
If you must light the Pudding, do please be careful with the amount of alcohol you pour on. I find that 1 tbsp of heated brandy works a just fine.