i like to bake. cakes and pies and biscuits and bread. sometimes i make lemon curd and sticky jam and put it in pretty little jars. i sell it all at markets. and then i write about it here.

Monday, 29 November 2010

snow is falling, all around me....

Yep, it's been snowing. Not a lot, not in Bristol anyway, but even a light covering is enough to awaken the Christmas spirits within. So it was inevitable that the weekend brought about a flurry of festive baking - the first of many I'm sure - and the result was these rather rustic, very crumbly mince pies. I admit, I didn't make my own mincemeat. There are such good ones available straight off the supermarket shelf these days, why waste time chopping and soaking. My chosen one was of the Tesco Finest variety and it did a super job at disguising itself as homemade. 

mince pies
570g mincemeat 
95g lard 
75g butter 
350g plain flour 
a little milk 
pinch of salt
1. Cut the butter and lard into chunks and add the sifted flour. Add a little salt, then process until the mixture is crumbly.
2. Add 3 tablespoons of water, process again, then remove the dough to the mixing bow;. Bring it all together with your hands, adding a few drops of water to make a dough.
3. Put it into a plastic bag for 30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C. After that, divide the dough in half on a well-floured surface.
4. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible, then use a large cutter to cut out rounds. Place the rounds in the baking tins and add one teaspoon of mincemeat to each one. 
5. Roll out the other half of pastry and repeat with the smaller cutter. Dampen the edges with milk and press them lightly into position on top of the mincemeat to form lids, sealing the edges well.
6. Brush the pies with milk then bake them for 20-25 minutes. Finally, cool them on a wire rack.

'Christmas' continued when me and my flatmates filled the corner of our living room with a beautiful Christmas tree. Frenchay Christmas Tree Farm is a family-run business in Bristol. We arrived early on Saturday, their first trading day of the year. A man in a neon coat guided us towards a Christmas-lover's dream - a field crammed full with snow-topped coniferous trees - and told us to take our pick. The trees are lovingly cared for all year round and the owners seem genuinely enthusiastic about all things 'tree'. Each prickly offering even has it's own individual name. After browsing and weighing up the options, we finally settled on an 8-foot beauty called Ron. It was dutifully chopped down and we drove it home, singing classic Christmas songs all the way of course.

The finished product....