Living in Britain you very quickly get used to Christmas = mince pies. No gathering at this time of year seems complete without a just-out-of-the-oven tray of warm and crumbly mince pies. Some are spectacularly boozey, others more wholesome with chunks of fresh fruit in with the dried. You can also make them a bit ‘skinnier’ (it is all relative) by using phyllo pastry instead of the usual shortcrust.
Very much a British thing, mincemeat – the filling of mince pies – is not actual minced meat but instead a heady compote of dried fruits, some kind of fat (often suet), nuts, sugar, sometimes booze, and plenty of warm spice. It used to be made with meat, but thankfully this is no longer the case or I doubt very much whether it would be as popular a pie filling as it is.
It is not desperately healthy, especially as it is traditionally encased in crumbly buttery pastry, but homemade versions ensure that even if this is not a waist-friendly sweet treat it will at least be made with good ingredients.
To be honest I’m not overly fond of bought mince pies, the filling tending towards the overly sweet and the pastry often a bit flabby, but I am also too lazy to make my own. All of that rolling and stamping out makes me want to break out in a not very festive sweat. So instead of turning out diddy wee pies that a 7-year old would be ashamed to serve, this year I have opted for the lazy baker’s friend, the galette: French, free-form and fruity.
There is just enough fruit in this pear, mincemeat and cranberry galette to make it onto food to glow. But only just. Slice yourself a small piece and serve it with a creamy spoonful of coconut yogurt or crème fraiche. Sure it is a bit decadent, so do share. A slice of Britain, via France, by an ex-pat American. A happy fusion, I think.
Pear, Mincemeat and Cranberry Galette
– based on my Fig and Plum Galette –
No mincemeat? Perhaps make it make it with cranberry sauce mixed with raisins and chopped nuts, and generous pinches of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove. Or go in another direction and just use the fruit (adding a bit more), a generous drizzle of the syrup from a jar of preserved ginger, and some extra crushed nuts to keep the pastry from getting a soggy bottom.
140g (1 cup) white spelt flour OR unbleached plain/AP flour
50g (1/2 cup) + 3 tbsp almonds– blitzed in a food processor to make a slightly coarse flour
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp fine salt
100g (1 stick, minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter OR vegan margarine/coconut oil – very cold and diced
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
4 tbsp ice-cold water
3 tbsp ground almonds
12 tbsp best quality mincemeat (bought or homemade) – more as needed to spread on pastry
2 smallish pears or eating apples, thinly spiced
50g (1/2 cup) cranberries
1 egg yolk OR non-dairy milk
2 tbsp raw demerera or other chunky sugar
1 tbsp warmed honey, ginger syrup or maple syrup – optional
1. You really need a food processor to get the best dough, but you can also use a pastry cutter or knife – but no fingers: too warm. Pop the flour, 50 grams ground almonds, ginger and cinnamon, the salt and chilled butter/coconut oil in the bowl of the processor. Process until you get floury ‘gravel’ then slowly pour in the water and vinegar (I put them together beforehand), pulsing or stop-starting your machine until the dough just starts to form a ball. This should take just a few seconds. Turn the dough out onto a flour or polenta dusted surface and pat gently into a disc. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Overnight is fine.
2. Remove the chilled dough and roll it out on a sheet of baking parchment that you have lightly dusted with flour or polenta. Roll it out to between a quarter and an eighth of an inch (3 mm), but you don’t need to be precise. At all.
3. Leaving a 2 inch border or thereabouts, sprinkle on the remaining ground almonds and top with the mincemeat. Use a damp palette knife to spread the mincemeat. It doesn’t need to be neat as now you top the galette with the fruit.
4. With the side of your hands, gently fold the dough over the fruit. Don’t try and make it tidy as it will fold in soft pleats around the fruit. These pleats taste the best!
5. Brush the exposed dough with egg or milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Slide the galette and parchment onto a baking tray and bake at 180C/350F for about 30-35 minutes – depends on your oven. The crust will be very golden. You may want to brush on warmed honey, ginger syrup or maple syrup onto the exposed fruit as the galette comes out of the oven.
Serve with coconut yogurt, crème fraiche or ice cream. The galette keeps for another day in a cool room, but just eat it at room temperature for best results.
Apricot, Mincemeat and Hazelnut Rugelach via Franglais Kitchen
Christmas Tart (with mincemeat) via Botanical Baker
Christmas Soda Bread via Fab Food 4 All
Wholemeal Cranberry and Courgette Loaf via My Custard Pie
Chocolate Chestnut Truffle Cake via food to glow
Hint of Mint Cocoa Brownies via food to glow
Sticky Gingerbread with Vanilla-Apple Compote via food to glow