Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Cakes - Mince Pies Look-alikes

I got in the mood for making these cakes in the morning, and then it all started. Actually, the day started off with an argument, as I actually said I was gonna make 'mince pies' so it gave Sam all the wrong idea... as mince pies they are not! They look deceptively similar, but the filling (both in the original recipe, and my altered version is nothing like mince pies). They are both pretty and tasty, though they may be a bit tricky to make.
The main reason to try out these little goodies, was actually my latest kitchen equipment purchase - star cutters. I ordered them online, hoping the delivery would make it before Friday (as I planned baking my last batch of gingerbread cakes). With my luck the courier arrived at my door just when I put the last tray of cakes into the oven.
Well, what I could I do? Had to find a recipe for other cakes, and came across these little goodies. Looked nice, and the association with minced pies was immediate, plus the recipe looked simple enough to give them a go. It turned out that there are a few things to look out for while preparing them, but all in all they seem to be disappearing quickly, so I guess that's a good sign!

The pastry:

2 cups of flour
2 yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 pack vanilla sugar
150 g soft butter

Start with whisking the yolks and sugar until fluffy. In a large bowl mix flour, vanilla sugar and butter, add whisked yolks and knead until you get smooth dough. If it keeps breaking apart add a bit more butter. Put into the fridge for 30 minutes. Then, leave 1/3 of the dough aside (it will make the stars on top. Flatten the remaining part of the dough onto a floured surface and cut out circles (I used my large tea cup for this, which happened to be just the right size). The dough may break in places while being rolled, just keep rolling or try patching the holes with more pastry and roll flat.

Grease the muffin baking tray with butter and fill each form with pastry - and that's where it gets tricky. The pastry may be a bit brittle, and there's no way to put your pastry circle inside the form without breaking them in places - it doesn't really matter though, so long as you 'mend' the breaks with extra bits of pastry - make sure there are no holes. Roll the rest of the dough and cut out stars.

The filling:
This is where I amended the original recipe to such extent that you may actually say it's my own creation - yay! ;-)

1 handful of dates
1 handful of prunes
1 handful of dried figs
1 handful of candied orange peel
1 handful of chopped almonds
1 handful of raisins
2 tbs honey
2 tbs brandy

Chop the fruit and mix with almonds and honey in a small pan. Put on a low heat for about 5 minutes, at the end stir in brandy. The filling should be warm (not too hot or too cold) when you place it in the cakes.

Put filling into each cake and place a star on top. Bake in 180C for about 20 minutes. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool still in the baking tray. Then, gently remove each cake from the form - careful here as they are really brittle, so it may take a few attempts to take them out. Sprinkle icing sugar onto the cakes and serve. They taste great served both cold and hot, and there certainly is a Christmas feeling about them.

1 comment:

  1. It should of course read; "get your husband to chop the dried fruit as it's incredibly sticky and the figs and dates will glue your fingers to the chopping board"