Butter Tarts and Mince Pies – a new beginning

This post is going up well after the Christmas baking season, but it is a suitable end to my holiday baking series. I spent the last six weeks in Vancouver partly for the holidays, but mainly because my UK visa had expired and I needed to go through the arduous process of applying for a different one. Without going into detail, this was one of the most stressful periods of my life, but I can happily report that my application was successful and I have returned to Oxford with a new lease on life. I’m optimistic that 2017 will bring good challenges and happiness!

Using one batch of pastry from a recipe by none other than Paul Hollywood, I made mince pies as part of British custom and butter tarts, which are oh-so deliciously Canadian. I’m terrible at making pastry, but this recipe turned out amazingly! I think it worked particularly well because you use softened butter, rather than having to meticulously crumble cold butter into flour without your fingers warming it up…

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Ingredients for Pastry:

375g. plain flour
260g. unsalted butter, softened
125g. caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing

Instructions:

Place the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together to a crumb consistency. Add the sugar and the egg and mix together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, and fold just until the pastry comes together. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 10 minutes.

Mince Pies:

Ingredients:

Pastry
Jar of mincemeat (I used President’s Choice 12 fruit variety)
Icing Sugar for Dusting

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 220C (430F). Roll out the pastry to 3 mm thick. Using a round cutter, cut out bases and put them into the muffin tin.

*Tip* I lined the muffin tins with strips of parchment paper which made it super easy to pop the tarts out after baking using the tabs.

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Put 1/2 tbsp. of mincemeat into each cup. I covered my mince pies with star cutouts, but you could use a full lid with a couple slits for ventilation. Brush the top of the tarts with a little beaten egg and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

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Bake the mince pies for around 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly before lifting from the muffin tins using your handy parchment tabs. When cool, dust with icing sugar.

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I had enough pastry left over to make 12 bite-size mince pies!

Butter Tarts:

This is a family recipe from Martha Ross (my mom’s side).

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins
1 cup brown sugar (light brown sugar is better, but I didn’t have any)
1 egg beaten (I used the egg from brushing the mince pies since there was a lot left over.)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. butter
Nuts if desired

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F).

Scald the raisins with boiling water and drain off the water when slightly cooled. Mix the other ingredients with the hot raisins.

Put 1/2 tbsp. of the mixture into the tart shells – leave uncovered.

Bake until bubbly (around 12 minutes)

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