Aka Alternatives to Mince Pies No. 1
When it comes to festive food, mince pies rarely make my (long) list of things to get excited about. It’s not that I don’t like them, they are fine. But that’s precisely the problem, they are just ‘fine’ – nothing exciting, nothing that really makes me want to roll up my sleeves and get baking. It’s just too…expected.
Yet, there is something about the mince pie that seems to summarise the best of festive baking. It’s the only time in the year that you can really invite people round for a very specific foodstuff without it seeming strange. It’s comforting, traditional and goes so well with mulled wine.
So, in order to try and get the best of both worlds, I’ve been scouring the recipe sites for the best ‘alternative’ mince pie options. These generally fall into two camps. There’s the ‘it’s still a mince pie but with a far more interesting filling’ camp; and then there’s the ‘stick with mincemeat but let’s find another way to present it’ camp.
Having made several jars of homemade rum mincemeat a few weeks ago, I knew I’d be going for the latter – namely the mincemeat baked doughnut option because they just looked so perfectly homemade.
They are pretty great for baking if you have other things to do with your day, as there is the required raising time for the dough – 1 hour followed by 30 mins, and altogether not too much ‘hands-on’ time. (For me, the ‘other thing’ to do with my day was superhero based computer games, but feel free to do something far more productive!) It’s a little fiddly sealing up the filling inside the dough, but if you don’t mind it being a bit wonky it doesn’t take too much time at all. Inevitably, some of the filling spilled out a little bit on mine, but I think they look a bit more interesting and homemade like that.
Biting into these is a dream…light fluffy dough meeting the depth of rum soaked fruit and a hint of spice. I love the lightness in the texture of these, and the crunch of the cinnamon sugar on the outside. There’s more doughnut than filling to these, so if you are a big fan of mincemeat then you may want to wave any cautions about how much filling you add it.
These fulfil perfectly the balance between ‘expected tradition’ and ‘excitingly new’ that, for me, the advent spirit is all about. Recipe after the jump.
Homemade Rum Mincemeat
zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½
300g vegetarian shredded suet
250g dark brown sugar
85g chopped mixed peel
½ small nutmeg , grated
1 large Bramley apple , peeled and grated
1) Soak raisins and currants in the rum and lemon juice for one hour until plumped up.
2) Drain the rum into a separate container and set aside.
3) Mix raisins and currants with the suet, sugar and mixed peel, chopped apple and nutmeg. I couldn’t find grating nutmeg, so I just used the regular stuff. Pour in the brandy and mix well.
4) Spoon and press into sterilised jars, and seal up. To sterilise the jars, run them through the dishwasher or wash in the hottest possible water, and then dry them in a warm oven.
5) Leave for at least a fortnight before using to let the flavours develop. These will last in the fridge for up to 6 months…you know, if you want mincemeat in June.
Baked Mincemeat Doughnuts
200g strong white bread flour
1 rounded tbsp caster sugar
25g cold soya spread, cut into small pieces
1 x 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
5 tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp mincemeat
3 tbsp icing sugar
85g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1) Add flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Add in the soya spread and either rub in with your fingers, or use two knifes in a scissor motion to rub in the soya spread.
2) Stir in the dried yeast.
3) Warm the milk so that it is pleasantly warm to the touch but not too hot.
4) Make a well in the flour mix, and add in the milk and the egg. Bring the mixture together to form a soft dough. Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes until it is nice and elastic and smooth. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
5) Once the dough has risen, knock back the air from the dough and kneed again for a minute or so. Separate the dough into 12 equal sized balls.
6) Preheat the oven to 190C or 170C fan.
7) Roll out one of the balls of dough to a 9 cm round. Place a teaspoon of mincemeat into the centre. I would err on the sparse side here as the filling does spill out pretty easily. Seal up the edge of the dough very firmly and form into a ball. Repeat with the other doughnuts.
8) Bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and slightly golden.
9) For the coating, in one bowl mix together 5 tablespoons icing sugar with 7 tablespoons cold water. In another bowl mix together caster sugar and cinnamon. Roll the baked doughnuts, whilst still warm, first in the sugar syrup and then in the cinnamon sugar to get a good coating. Leave to cool, and enjoy licking your cinnamon sugar coated fingers before tucking in!