Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pastry Problems

Last night I had a party to attend. I signed up to bring Chips and Dip, but in a fit of creativity yesterday I decided to bake.

There is something about Christmas that makes me long for Mince Pies, even though they are not my fave Christmas Fare.

A mince pie (sometimes also minced, minced meat, or mincemeat pie) is a British festive sweet pastry, traditionally consumed during the Christmas and New Year period. Mince pies normally have a pastry top, but versions may also be found without the top in which case they are known as mince tarts. Mince pies are filled with mincemeat – a preserve typically containing apple, dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas, spices, and either suet or vegetable shortening.[1]

Modern mince pies typically do not contain any meat, but because suet is raw beef or mutton fat, mince pies made with suet are not suitable for vegetarians. Individual mince pies are usually 6–7.5 cm in diameter, although larger mince pies, suitable for slicing, may also be baked.

Original mince pies are just pastry and filling - and are a bit of an acquired taste.

I was looking through 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess' and found a version of them topped with Frangipane instead of pastry - they sounded nice. So I thought I would make these individual pies as the cookbook suggested.

I forgot about the humidity!

The sweet shortcrust butter pastry - which is a nightmare to work with on dry days, did not fare well in 120% humidity. It bound together into a sticky mess after adding just 1 tablespoon of fluid!!! I added more flour and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, but the instant I tried to roll it out and put it in my pan, it just all fell apart.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I grabbed a large flan case and made one big tart and just wodged the pastry in with my fingers before pouring the frangipane over it!

It looked yummy, and the pastry stayed light and flaky.

The only problem was convincing the Americans at the party that something called a mincemeat pie, was actually a sweet tart rather than a savory meat pie! The Frangipane actually worked well with the mince and made the whole thing a pleasant culinary experience.

Just as well really - I still have half of it in the Fridge!

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