Medieval Mince Pies with a Chestnut Pastry

It’s that time of year when everyone wants a good recipe. And I have been asked for so many recipes – which is lovely. But I can’t pay my bills by just giving out recipes.

So please do feel free to order food from me or come and visit me in London and pick up a few tasty treats to keep you going over Christmas  🙂

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Anyway. I have had a few conversations about Mince Pies. As an Italian I have my own specific desires about the kinda pie I want at this time of year. I don’t want an overly rich, super short, sweet pie. I like my pastry to be crisp and slightly saline, super light and perfect as a foil to the sweet, soft filling. Making it great for breakfast or to have with a coffee mid morning or when you get back in the afternoon with a cuppa tea.

I did get a little carried away about the food history so I will relay a tiny bit to you. Just cos it interested me and you may like to hear about it too.

The origin of the Mince Pie is 11th Century England and originally did contain mutton (I’m not putting any meat in these – lets say that straight off). Obviously  the winter offered little in the way of fresh fruit so dried fruit was used to extend the little there was and this was spiced and sweetened. All foods were presented as they became ready so these would be served straight from the wood fired ovens … just imagine that. Blisteringly hot sweet centre with the whiff of woodsmoke lingering on the crust. (These details makes me happy).

This is a little quote from English Heritage Food & Cooking In Medieval Britain by Maggie Black (1985) However, medieval people wanted more than just salt, pepper and mustard as condiments. Wealthy European cookery was aromatic and pungent with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cardamoms and cloves, and other spices we no longer use such as galigale, grains of paradise and cubebs’ 

Don’t you just want to know what grains of paradise and cubebs taste like? Me too. In the meantime here is my take on a delicious mince pie that people will want to keep eating – not just a token effort cos it’s Christmas.

Chestnut Pastry

140g Chestnut flour

100g plain gluten free blend (a mix of rice, potato and millet flour is also good)

60g coconut palm sugar

1/8 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

180g non hydrogenated baking fat, sunflower margarine (or butter if you eat dairy)

70 ml coconut milk (which ever you like)

10 ml oil (I do like olive oil as the peppery taste is beautiful with the sweet fruit)

1 tsp apple cyder vinegar (this is not essential but it helps with the ultimate crispness)

Add the vinegar to the milk.

Whisk all the dry ingredients in a bowl and rub in the solid fat. (I do this in a food processor – my hands are too warm for good pastry)

Use a butter knife to stir all the wet into all the dry.

Wrap and chill for 20 minutes to allow the dry ingredients to absorb the wet and make a firmer dough.

Once  chilled roll out on a floured surface and stamp out 2.5 cm rounds to fill your patty tins and a 1.5 cm lid (I like to do little hearts because I make everything with love and I want people to remember that)

Fill the pies with the following recipe. Then bake for 15 minutes in a fairly hot oven Gas 7 220 ˚C. Or until they are nicely bronzed and the filling is starting to bubble.

I like to dust mine with lucuma, but you can use icing sugar.

They are absolutely their best served impossibly hot from the oven.

Medieval Mincemeat Recipe

1lb peeled cored and chopped apples (eaters not cookers)

1lb currants

1lb sut

1lb large raisins

1/2lb sultanas

1lb demerara sugar

2oz almonds,blanched and finely chopped

1/2gill rum

2oz each of candied lemon, orange and citron peel all finely chopped

grated rind and juice of 2 large lemons

1/2 nutmeg finely grated

1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and cinnamon

1/8 tsp each ground ginger and mace

1/2 tsp salt

1/4pt brandy

Mix well and store in clean jars. Allow to stand for a minimum of 4hours before use.

If you can’t get hold of all the spices and flavours just press on away. That’s how your own unique take on these pies will come about.

How lovely  🙂

 

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