6th November 2023
Back in ’77, the freezer was a cupboard of uncharted possibilities. Enter a fresh-faced Mary Berry (see below), with Cooking for your Freezer (Sundial Books Limited). Touted as a ‘Top freezer cookery specialist’, in it she showcases a range of recipes for freezable fare: food to be made in advance and reheated to order, ideal for the time-poor chef. Forty-three years later, her recipe for freeze-stable Mini Mince Pies has become a tried-and-tested classic. Plus, the ability to freeze then defrost them in batches means you’ll never again need to ask
Cooking time: 20 minutes. Prep. time: 30 minutes. Makes approx. 36.
1. Sanitize your hands and all kitchen surfaces (aim to spread the love this Christmas, not the germs!).
2. Preheat the oven to 200OC, Gas Mark 6.
3. Cube both the butter and the baking block, then add to the large mixing bowl.
4. Gently sieve in the flour, then rub fat into flour between thumb and forefingers, continuing until the mixture resembles finely-milled breadcrumbs, and is sandy-golden in colour.
* TIP: Shaking your bowl sporadically throughout this process, as if panning for gold, will allow the larger buttery lumps to rise to the top, speeding up proceedings. *
5. Mix in the egg yolk, along with enough milk to make a firm dough (this should constitute, roughly, a tablespoon or two of the good stuff).
6. Knead briefly, until one cohesive, smooth-skinned dough ball (unlike with Joe Wicks’ YouTube sessions, the more you work it, the tougher it gets).
7. Chill, swaddled in clingfilm, for 20 minutes in its manger of a fridge.
8. When both yourself and the dough have finished chilling, reserve a third of the latter, rolling the remainder to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut into rounds, and press in the awaiting tins.
That’s just the way I roll: Steps 8 & 9.
9. Dollop these empty shells with spoonfuls of mincemeat- each caselet should easily take 2-3 teaspoons. Season’s eatings: Be generous!
10. Roll out the reserved dough third to a similar thickness as before, but this time slice into strips measuring around 0.5cm in diameter. Cut these to length, and arrange in a lattice formation atop the partly-assembled pies. Alternatively (and less fiddily-ly), you could use just two strips per pie to create a cross shape.
11. Whisk the leftover egg white in the small bowl for a brisk couple of seconds (perhaps while you hum the chorus of ‘Jingle Bells’ to yourself…). Use this frothy liquid to brush the exposed pastry on top of the pies.
12. Dust (liberally) with caster sugar.
13. Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes: the filling should be gently bubbling, the pastry crisp and golden-brown as Santa after his annual post-Christmas Ibiza R&R. Leave to cool in the tins before sampling… if you have the willpower. (If not, try some heatproof gloves and gorge away!)
These pies freeze well: after cooling, place in polythene bags, and label. Reheat from frozen by placing in a moderately hot oven for 25-30 minutes.
Guests to impress? Try making your own mincemeat, courtesy of this simple Mary Berry recipe. Have a very Berry Christmas!
Recipe adapted from: Cooking for your Freezer, by Mary Berry.
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Feature Image Credit: Unsplash