21 December 2012

Mince pie fuss pot

Maybe there are fruit mince pies besides my own that I like, but I've never found them. I use my Nana's recipe.

I remember being about seven years old and at the beach with some neighbours, and gladly taking the mince pie offered to me because I loved Nana's so much. It was horrible. I was very embarrassed but finally plucked up the courage to ask the grandfather-neighbour what I should do with it because I didn't like it. He whispered to me in reply, telling me to wade out into the sea and drop it by one of the boats anchored there. So I carefully crushed it into my hand so no one else could see it, waded into the water and secreted it there. Our little secret.

Christmas came alive for me today, because I baked mince pies. Both children helped me. I told them how this was my Nana's recipe, and that when I asked her how much fruit to put into each tart, she told me to be generous, not stingy, with the filling. I had to ask her because the recipe she wrote me out contained almost no instructions.

It was a time full of memories. I used her rolling pin for the pastry, and her tart tins for the little pies. We cut three little vents in each lid, just like she did.

For the first time this year I used suet, which, I found out when I bought it, is flaky beef fat. Yuck. But YUM! It really holds the flavour. For both the fruit mince (which I made last week) and pastry I could only bring myself to use half the amount of fat she did.

In future I must remind myself that she made enough to last us for many weeks, eating them every day. She'd portion them out into old, clean bread bags and put them in our chest freezer. Her quantity of fruit mince was made accordingly. We made about 70 pies today and we are only half way through the mince. I have no chest freezer! Help!

After I'd made a few tray fulls I realised something was wrong. The pastry underneath the bottom of the pies wasn't translucent. Nana must have rolled it paper thin. The rest of the tray fulls are better, but I suspect my mother will notice they're still not thin enough. That's another reason to make them in October, as Nana did - the air temperature is in the teens instead of  the mid 20s, and pastry behaves better when it's kept cool.

However, the other people in this house don't care about thick pastry - they love'em!

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