Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Mince Pies in Japan

This year I decided to make some mince pies for Christmas, because I find the shop-bought ones way too sweet!  As I didn't have much time, I did cheat with the mincemeat but if you want to make your own I recommend Delia's mincemeat recipe that I used to use in England.  Unless you have a 12 hole yorkshire pudding tin not something you'll find in Japan!), you will also need to find some shallow rigid paper or foil cases and a baking tray.    Tins for baking muffins are too deep.  I got my cases from my local DIY centre and Tokyu Hands.  Baking in cases does actually make it  a lot easier to freeze the baked pies.  You will also need a rolling pin and two cutters, for the base and the top.  I used a 7.5cm diameter round one (which was the largest I could find, but actually a little too small), and a star for the top.

To make these allow yourself about 3 hours.

For the pastry
200g plain flour (ie in Japan, not bread flour)
pinch of salt
100g butter
extra flour for rolling
a little milk to brush the tops
a little brown sugar to sprinkle

For the mincemeat (cheating)
411g jar of Robertson's Classic Mincemeat from Kaldi Coffee Farm
1/2 apple, peeled
30-40g dried cranberries
1 tbsp brandy

  • Wrap the measured butter in foil and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Grate the butter into the flour, holding it in flour and dipping it into the flour to make it easier to grate.  Stir the butter through the flour making sure it is well covered.  Add cold water a little at the time and bring the pastry together with your hands.  It should hold well together, but not be too sticky.  Add a little extra flour if you find you've accidentally added too much water.
  • Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film or a plastic bag, and leave in the fridge to rest. 
  • Prepare the mincemeat.  Scoop out the jar into a large mixing bowl, grate in the apple, add the dried cranberries and brandy and mix well.
  • Preheat an oven to 190C.
  • Spread flour on a work surface.  Divide the pastry into four smaller pieces to make it easier to work with.  I'm lucky to have a pretty big kitchen in Japan, even by British standards, but even so my largest work surface area is only a square with side 35cm (yes, I just measured!)
  • Roll the pastry as thin as possible without it breaking.  Cut equal quantities of circles and stars.
  • Put a circle of pastry in each case, and fill with a teaspoon of mincemeat.  Cover with a star and brush with milk.  Repeat until all the pastry is used up.  I made 32 pies, using up the mincemeat exactly and with a tiny remaining bit of pastry.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes and cool on a wire rack.  I had to bake two batches of 16.
  • These freeze well when cooled.
  • Reheat from frozen at 220C, covered with foil, for about 5 minutes.