It’s a bit cheeky calling them that, but I’m giving a little nod to the thousands of non-Christians in the UK, who also like to celebrate the midwinter festival. My recipe is inspired by Middle Eastern flavours such as saffron, raisins, sour cherries and barberries. In fact the mince pie was ‘invented’ by crusaders coming back, laden with Middle Eastern ingredients, from the holy lands. Another thing: in this recipe there is no suet (yucky stuff) so they are good for vegetarians too.
Until recently I never liked mince pies until I started making them myself. This has become my philosophy about food: stuff I think I don’t like is transformed and refreshed when home-made.
You can mix and match your mincemeat recipe; although getting the ingredients below will give it an unusual Middle Eastern influence, also feel free to just shove in whatever is lurking in your cupboard, dried fruit wise. The saffron is pretty fabulous as a flavour, both musky and floral, ( I find I’m putting saffron into everything at the moment), and adding some sour fruit also prevents it from being too heavy and sweet.
Any leftovers just keep in a jar in the fridge for the next batch.
Muslim Mince Pies Recipe
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
100g butter at room temperature, cubed
2-3 tablespoons of water
50g Slivered Almonds
30g Slivered Green Pistachios (optional) (from Persepolis) ( I didn’t this time but I think it’d be nice)
10og Candied Orange/Lemon/Lime Peel (but this must be home-made or of good quality otherwise it tastes horrible)
75g Grated Butter
Zest of a Lemon
A pinch of All Spice, ground
A pinch of Cloves, ground
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
A grating of Nutmeg
A pinch of Salt
Preheat the oven to 200ºc
Then add a generous spoonful of mincemeat to each pie ‘hole’.
Then cut out a shape, it could be a crescent moon which you can do with a round cutter or a glass, placing it on the edge of one of your already cut out circles for instance. Or use any cutter you like the look of, or just cover with another circle of pastry, making a little nick in the middle for steam to escape.
Stick this top on with water or milk using a pastry brush.
Bake for 15- 20 minutes in the baking oven of the Aga or at 200ºC in a normal oven.