Saturday, 29 December 2012

Orange Pastry Mince Pies

Now I must confess, I'm not much of a Xmas cake / pudding / mince pie kinda girl, but as I had a jar of luxury mincemeat from Tuppenny Barn sitting in my cupboard needing using, it was about time I manned up and tried my making my own.  Plus spurred on by my recent cupcake decorating evening with Frog Hollow Catering, I thought I could try and adapt the Mince Pie to make it more my own style.

The recipe for the orange pastry (and the jar of mincemeat!!) came from my friend, Jane.  I've always found shop-bought mince pies a bit claggy in texture, so the thought of a short, high fat ratio pastry, made making mince pies more appealing.  Higher fat in pastry = less shrinkage and gives a more melt in the mouth texture.

Recipe for the pastry
200g plain flour
100g cold butter cut into small chunks
50g lard - as with butter
Grated rind of one large orange
Orange juice to bind

I made 12 large and 12 mini mince pies with this amount of pastry, but I didn't have full pastry tops.

Put the flour, butter, lard and orange rind into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add enough orange juice until the mixture starts forming a ball.   Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.  I made my pastry the day before, so it was nice and cold.

Roll out your pastry as thinly as possible (mine needs to be thinner next time).  Then start cutting out your bases and popping into greased tart tins.  I used a 2 5/8in cutter for my mini mince pies and a 3 1/16 in cutter for the larger ones.  Fill (but not overfill - made that mistake) with your mincemeat and add your topping of choice.  For the larger mince pies I used little pastry shapes and for the mini mince pies I added fondant icing snowflakes after they were baked.

Bake in a 200c static oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until puffed up and light golden brown in colour.

Allow to cool slightly......................... and then eat!

Very yummy, even if I do say so myself.  I might have been converted!

Happy baking and to a prosperous 2013!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Schweineorchen or Pigs Ears!

OK, I know, I've been an absent blogger.  Funnily enough that thing called Christmas got in the way and I was busy finishing off lots of handmade goodies that couldn't be blogged until after the event.

One of the quickest and simplest things I made were a baked item from my Dr Oetker 'Backen macht freude' Baking book that I got in Germany.  A lovely lady I work for remembered  'Schweineorchen' or Pigs Ears from her childhood, so I just had to make her some.

Simply take a roll of ready rolled puff pastry and spread it out on a worktop sprinkled with icing sugar to stop it sticking.  Brush with 25g melted and cooled butter. Then sprinkle a mixture of 50g castor sugar and a sachet of Dr Oetker Vanilla sugar (approx. 7g if you have vanilla sugar in a jar) all over the sheet of puff pastry.

Then the fun bit begins.  Roll the pastry nice and tightly from each end, until both sides meet in the middle.  Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 200c static or 180c fan oven

Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and then slice your pastry at 1cm intervals and place on the baking sheets.  Leave enough space for expansion.
You'll see now why they are so named!

In a static oven, bake one sheet at a time for 15 minutes, turning halfway through, or baked until golden in colour.  In a fan oven you can do two or three sheets at a time.

Once baked, slide onto a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with more vanilla sugar whilst still warm.

As you can see I have two varieties as I also had some all-butter puff pastry in the freezer, so wanted to compare.  The ones on the left are with the ready-roll pastry and hold their shape much better.  I still need to roll them more tightly to get a better shape though.

Still they tasted great, were nice and crunchy and can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (unlikely!).  Plus they got the seal of approval from my German friend.

On the sewing front I had a lovely time making a Clothkits dress for my Niece, Ellie. 

I can recall my talented Mum making clothes for my Sister and I, so thought this would be a good starting point.  I got to add a lining, make a button placket and buttonholes on my new sewing machine and learn other new skills with the handy online sewing guide.  Plus I may just have bought another dress pattern in red corduroy to try :-)

Happy crafting!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Frog Hollow Catering Sugarcraft Workshop

Phwew, November has been a whistle-stop month, with lots of new crafts being learnt.  My final instalment took me to the home of Charlotte Briggs, owner and chef of Frog Hollow Catering, for a Sugarcraft workshop.  The theme was 'Vintage' and we would be trying out eight different designs using cupcakes as our platform.  Now I know nothing about cake decorating apart from applying a layer of Nutella to a chocolate cake.  Partly as I'm usually too keen to tuck into the cake.

The idea behind the workshop was to show lots of techniques that you could then apply to a larger decorated cake.

We played with fondant icing (ideal as a base for your decorating), petal paste (great for shaping roses!), edible glue, shimmer dusts, coloured pastes (such a small amount goes a very long way) and no end of cutters, indentation mats and moulds.

I was also introduced to a website 'Cake Craft World', where you can find no end of goodies to design just about any cake.

Did I have fun?  You bet and at £36 for a 3.5 hour workshop, very reasonable.  Plus, look what I got to take home.........

Happy baking!