seasons greetings

Well, it's almost Christmas here in Brisbane and I'm just about cooked out for the year. I have a few traditional goodies to share with you though, recipes for fruit mince pies and gingerbread, items I pretty much bake every year.

I saw a recipe for a gingerbread star wreath in Country Style magazine and I was inspired to make one of my own. I made up a batch of gingerbread and baked the wreath using half the mixture. It looked lovely but I had my doubts about it's strength and when I tried to hang the wreath, it fell apart. What was I to do other than eat every single last gingerbread star from which the wreath was made? Having eaten half a batch of this gingerbread solo, I can assure you this is one delicious gingerbread recipe. 

With the remaining gingerbread I made some cute little gingerbread people which I decorated with Royal icing. Heres the recipe for you, very, very slightly adapted from here.

Gingerbread (adapted from Country Style Magazine December 2013)

125g (4 oz) butter, at room temperature 
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar 
½ cup golden syrup 
1 egg yolk
2½ cups plain flour 
1 20 ml tablespoon ground ginger 
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground white pepper 
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°C Lightly grease and line 2 baking trays. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest. 

Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll it out until it is about 4mm thick. Use cutters to cut out shapes. Place the shapes on the baking trays about 3 cm apart. Knead and roll out any leftover dough to repeat the process. For shapes to be used for hanging decorations, use a skewer to make a hole in the top of each shape. 

For gingerbread decorations, bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

In the current issue of Donna Hay magazine there's a recipe for mince pies using a brown sugar pastry, a riff on this recipe. The recipe inspired me to add a little brown sugar to my usual pastry recipe.

Instead of a caster sugar topping I used raw sugar for some extra crunch and added some nuts to the filling.

They are delicious so I'm glad I made 16 of these little Christmas morsels.

Here's the updated recipe for you.

MINCE PIES (makes 16)

125 gm (4 oz) butter
60 gm sifted icing sugar
30 gm brown sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 cup plain flour
cup corn flour (cornstarch)
¾ tsp baking powder

410 gm bottle or 1¼ cups fruit mince
1 green apple, peeled and grated 
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
30 gm (1 oz) melted butter
1 tbl thick cut orange marmalade
1 tbl coarsely chopped almonds or toasted macadamias

1 egg white, lightly beaten 
Raw sugar
Shallow round based patty tins

Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the egg yolk and beat well. Sift the flours and baking powder together and stir into the creamed mixture. You may need to add a little cold water to form a soft dough. Knead lightly on a floured board. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour

Put the fruit mince into a mixing bowl. Add the apple, the grated rind the melted butter, the marmalade and the chopped nuts and mix until well combined. You’ll need about half of the fruit mince mixture for this recipe. I put the leftover fruit mince back into the jar and keep it in the fridge to use later.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Roll the pastry out thinly and cut into rounds. Line the lightly greased patty tin with the pastry. Cut the same number of slightly smaller circles to fit the tops of the pies. Put 1 - 2 teaspoons of fruit mince into each pie then moisten the edges with the beaten egg white. Make a small slit in each pastry lid or cut out with a small cutter. Top each filled pie with a lid and press edges of pastry well to seal. Glaze with the beaten egg white and sprinkle the raw sugar over the top of the pies.

Bake the pies in the preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Brown sugar pastry colours quickly so you may need to cover the pies for the last 5 minutes of the cooking process to ensure the bottom crust cooks through. Cool the pies for 10 minutes before removing from the tray and placing on a wire cooling rack. When completely cool, store the pies in an airtight container. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

P.S The lovely star is from Kylie at Paperboat Press.

Before I take a 2 week break from blogging, I'd like to wish all my blog readers and their families, a safe and happy time over the festive season. Looking forward to sharing some more recipes and chatting with you all again in 2014.

Until then,


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