There is now a good selection of gluten free mince pies available in stores but there is nothing like making homemade mincemeat or mince pies to make your whole house smell like Christmas, that boozy, fruity aroma spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger is better than any seasonal candle to set the festive mood.
Making your own mincemeat also gives you control over what goes in to your pies. If you don’t like currants ( fruit of the devil in my eyes) than you don’t need to add currents, you can substitute another dried fruit instead, if you hate candied peel you can use something else, in the past I have used dried papaya, pineapple and mango instead of mixed peel and the results were delicious. I use flaked almonds in my mincemeat, my Mum prefers chopped almonds. As long as the quantities work you can feel free to experiment.
What makes this Gluten Free is that I use lard rather than suet as suet is often dusted with flour to stop it sticking, if you want a vegetarian version of this you could use butter, for vegan you could uses coconut oil. Prep your jars by washing thoroughly and leaving to dry in a low temperature oven, Gas 1 or the equivalent. Store the mincemeat in a cool dry place.
400 grams of raisins
400 grams of sultanas
115 grams of dried cranberries
115 grams of dried cherries
350 grams of soft dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons of mixed spice
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ nutmeg grated
50 grams of slivered almonds
450 grams cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated.
225 grams of lard, grated
Zest and juice of 2 lemon
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
6 tablespoons of brandy
2. Add the grated apple, grated lard, the zest and juice of the lemons and orange and stir through the fruit until thoroughly mixed.
3. Cover the bowl and leave to sit in a cool, dry place for 12 hours or overnight.
4. Heat your oven to Gas ½, 120c / 225, and place the mincemeat in an oven proof dish. Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours. This process melts the lard which will then coat the fruit preventing fermentation taking place.
5. Remove the mincemeat from the oven and leave to cool completely, stirring now and then to stop the lard from setting in pools, you want to make sure the lard is evenly distributed and fully coats the fruit.
6. When the fruit is cool stir in the brandy and spoon in to your prepared jars. Cover with wax discs and seal tightly.
Store the jars in a cool dry place until you are ready to use it. Try to give the mincemeat at least a few weeks to mellow and for the flavour to develop before using.
Once the mincemeat has mellowed for a couple of weeks you can start making the pies.
A good mince pie should be full of flavour, ideally a bit sticky from syrupy juices that have bubbled up over the crust during baking, it should be golden brown, crisp and very moreish.
The pies I make use a pastry that is a version of the pastry I make for quiche and savoury tarts as I find it stands up well to a rich fruit filling. This basic recipe is sweetened with sugar, orange zest and juice and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to give it a seasonal flavour.
12 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1 &1/2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
3 ounces of butter, chilled
3 ounces of lard, chilled
Zest and juice of one large orange
1 egg beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon caster sugar mixed with a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, xanthan gum, salt and orange zest. Grate or cut in the chilled butter and lard. Rub in the fats with your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency
- Make a well in the centre and add enough of the orange juice to make a nice firm dough, if you don’t get enough juice from your orange you can add a bit of water.Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least a half hour.
While the dough is chilling pre heat the oven to Gas 6, 200, 400f
- Butter your baking sheet, I use a bun tray as I like a deep filled mince pie but use whatever mould you like.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a floured surface, roll it out to a thickness of about ¼- ½ cm.
- Using a pastry cutter or a giant wine glass, cut the pastry to fit your baking tray.
- To top the pies you could use another circle of pastry to make a completely closed in pie, you could use a star cutter or any other shape you like or you could cut your pastry in to strips and create a lattice work effect on the pie.
- Fill each pie with about a teaspoon and a half of mincemeat and brush the edges and the top of the pie with the egg-wash.
- Sprinkle the surface of the pie with the cinnamon sugar mix and pop the trays in the oven. This amount of pastry made 2 trays of 12 pies and I swapped shelves halfway through the baking to ensure even cooking.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, keep an eye on them towards the end of the baking time as they can go from pale gold to charred in a matter of minutes.
These pies freeze really well, just defrost and heat in a warm oven and they should crisp up nicely. Enjoy on their own, with a good dollop of whipped cream, or brandy butter but definitely enjoy them with good company and as much festive cheer as you can muster.