MAKES ABOUT 12
Yep, mince tarts. Not really summer food to those in the northern hemisphere, but because Christmas is in summer here, we do adore serving these a few times each December. I’ve been trying to recreate my Great-aunt Ann’s mince tarts for years, and this is the closest I’ve come.
1 lemon, scrubbed
1 apple, peeled and cored
100 g (3½ oz) currants
100 g (3½ oz) sultanas (golden raisins)
100 g (3½ oz) brown sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
100 g (3½ oz) walnuts or almonds, finely chopped
1–2 teaspoons mixed spice
Sweet shortcrust pastry
160 g (5¾ oz) butter, softened
125 g (4½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250 g (9 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 egg yolks
caster (superfine) sugar, for dusting (optional)
To make the fruit mince, juice the lemon, strain and reserve. Place the peel in cold water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until soft enough to purée, about 45–60 minutes, changing the water twice. Drain well and purée.
Grate the apple coarsely and pop it in the strained lemon juice. Toss the currants, sultanas and sugar in brandy, warming gently in the oven to plump.
Mix all of the ingredients together and allow to sit overnight if possible, in the fridge.
Add more brandy if it looks dry (especially if you store it). You need half this quantity for one batch of tarts.
This pastry is very, very short and hard to work with, but the pay off is that it makes sensational little tarts. In a food processor, blend the softened butter with the icing sugar and vanilla essence just to combine; you’re not trying to whip it. Pulse in the flour until crumbly, then pulse in 2 egg yolks. Tip the mixture out onto the workbench and knead just until it forms a dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes; longer in warmer climes as it can be quite a sticky pastry.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Roll the pastry in 2 batches between sheets of plastic wrap, until 3–5 mm (1/8–1/4 inch) thick. Cut 12 rounds of pastry to line
12 rounded muffin tin holes. Gently press the pastry rounds in the holes. Top with a small spoonful of mince, then press the edges of the pastry towards the centre over the top of the mince and brush with the remaining egg yolk, or sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake towards the bottom of the oven (use the bottom element of the oven if possible) for about 15 minutes until the pastry is cooked and coloured slightly at the edges and base. Cool and serve, perhaps with whisky-scented whipped cream.
Recipe and image from Summer on Fat Pig Farm by Matthew Evans (Murdoch Books). Buy the book here.
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