Sunday, 14 November 2010

Steep Learning Curve

I've had for first attempts at mince pies this year. As will all new endeavours, it's a pretty steep learning curve. I can honestly say I'm learning loads of things not to do.

I knew Nigella was being a pain about all that darned putting stuff in the freezer. She says to add enough orange juice to get the dough to start coming together. That took a lot of orange juice. An awful lot. Far more than I thought. But hey, trust the recipe and all that, right? Stick to it the first time and tweak it on subsequent trials.

Nah. It was a disaster. I am convinced the dough didn't come together with the small amount of orange juice expected because the butter in the pastry was frozen. Once it warmed up slightly - i.e. when I came to use it - it was a horrid sticky gloopy mess. It's in the bin.

Rachel Allen suggests putting the pastry between two large pieces and cling film when rolling it out. That worked really well. I never roll pastry out thin enough, I know I don't. This helped me to roll it quite thinly without added more flour and risking the pastry becoming tough.

Rachel's cutter sizes were a bit weird. They didn't work for me at all. The lids were too small, although those covered with a star rather than a lid fared better. The pastry as a tiny bit underdone and was far paler than I'd expect for something given an egg wash. I think the oven was a bit low; perhaps 190? and I think I'll try 210 next time.

The pastry itself was delicious. lovely and light and flaky, so a thumbs up on the taste department. I need to practise more with the amount of mincemeat to go in it. It's a pain when it overflows but I do hate an under-filled mince pie. The home made mincemeat is delicious and I want heaps of it.

I'll keep plugging away at it in between this week's commitments. I want to have a decent mince pie ready for December 1st. Given the number of Christmas cakes I need to do before then and now, it'll be a squeeze but I am confident I'll manage it.

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