Last night I made another 9 little Christmas cakes (demand is quite high this year) and today I decided I'd better get back to my experiments in pastry making so I can do mince pies. Being a bit of a wuss i found 4 or 5 little jobs it was *essential* I do first but by 11a.m. I stopped my displacement activities and bit the bullet.
My tutor Lesley said she used the Roux brothers' shortcrust pastry recipe. I didn't find it online although I did laugh watching a telly clip of them bickering in the 80s. Googling also threw up stuff by their son/nephew and I can understand SJ's crush on Michel Roux Jr. He's always ace.
My other tutor, Judith, was amazingly kind. She uses a recipe called German paste. She not only gave me the recipe (in an official catering format, which threw me a bit) but also a big splodge of pastry dough to have a go with.
German paste uses slightly different proportions to the shortcrust recipes I'd been used to. It is 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part sugar plus an egg. I rolled it out between two pieces of clingfilm as recommended by Rachel Allen and tried to remember to keep it THIN. It felt much greasier to work with and I have to admit I was a little sceptical as I watched it in the oven. There were no temperatures or timings given so I tried 190 for 12 minutes. It looked a little underdone so I left it a further 3. The finished mince pies were rather shiny so perhaps I didn't need an egg wash.
Mark commented that he likes a more biscuit-y pastry like the mince pies from the supermarket. Yuck. However, I found a recipe on the BBC Food site that claimed a more biscuit-y taste so i tried that. The suggested method is to squish a ball of dough into the tartlet tins. Hmm. Many of the comments below the recipe from people who'd tried it suggested adding an egg and rolling it out as a big improvement and that's the route I took.
The cooking time was given as 20 minutes. That seemed a little long but I trusted the recipe. Oops. They were definitely overcooked.
By this time the mince pies from Judith's pastry were cool. Mark and I tucked in to them with cups of tea. Wow. I mean really, Wow. I apologise for my doubts, they are utterly delicious - quite crisp and just meltingly tasty.
Next test is to try and make it myself.