Pastry Day - time to make your own mince pies!
Pastry Day is celebrated by the catering industry each year on December 9.
The pastry is a name given to a large variety of baked goods which are made with ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder, and eggs.
Pastry dough is rolled out thinly and then used as a base for different baked products. A few of the more common bakery items include pies, tarts, quiches, and pasties.
Pastries can be traced as far back as the ancient Mediterranean where they had almost paper-thin, multi-layered baklava and Phyllo dough. Pastry making began in Northern Europe after the Crusaders brought it back from the Mediterranean. French and Italian Renaissance chefs eventually perfected the puff and choux pastries while 17th and 18th-century chefs brought new recipes to the table. Included in the innovative recipes were Napoleons, cream puffs and eclairs. Culinary historians often consider French pastry chef Antonin Careme (1784 – 1833) to have been the original great master of pastry making in modern times.
There are many different types of pastry, most of which would fall into one of the following categories:
Shortcrust pastry – simplest and most common.
Sweet crust pastry – similar to the shortcrust but sweeter.
Flaky pastry – simple pastry that expands when cooked.
Puff pastry – has many layers that cause it to puff when baked.
Choux pastry – very light pastry that is often filled with cream or other fillings.
Phyllo pastry – paper-thin pastry dough that is used in many layers.
Hot crust pastry – the pastry used for pork pies
Time to make some homemade mince pies!
You will need:
225g cold butter
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar
1 small egg
icing sugar, to dust
To make the pastry, rub 225g cold, diced butter into 350g plain flour, then mix in 100g golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt.
Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add liquid – and knead it briefly. The dough will be fairly firm, like shortbread dough. You can use the dough immediately, or chill for later.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Line 18 holes of two 12-hole patty tins, by pressing small walnut-sized balls of pastry into each hole.
Spoon 280g mincemeat into the pies.
Take slightly smaller balls of pastry than before and pat them out between your hands to make round lids, big enough to cover the pies.
Top the pies with their lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal – you don’t need to seal them with milk or egg as they will stick on their own. (The pies may now be frozen for up to 1 month).
Beat 1 small egg and brush the tops of the pies. Bake for 20 mins until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins, then remove to a wire rack.
To serve, lightly dust with icing sugar. They will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.