Friday, 11 December 2020

Mincemeat Xmas Tree

I am leaving you with this giant mince pie Tree as I sign off for about three weeks or so, with so much baking and cooking for my family and friends, I have no time for extra! Doesn’t it look festive? Such a simple idea for a Christmas tea centre piece! Not my idea I am afraid, I found it in an old Echo baking book. Not that I would use marge. You need shortcrust, crumbly, buttery pastry. To make this super easy, you could nip to Sainsbury’s and buy some all butter shortcrust pastry!!! But you could make your own and my version of easy shortcrust will be at the bottom. Have a great Christmas everyone, with hopes you have a super time and a Happy New Year. 2021 must get better. Stay safe and well. Laurie x

Make a simple template of a Xmas Tree. I went to Google and printed one out, then transferred it to a light card. Or perhaps you are arty [not me!] and can draw one freehand.

You will need about 1lb, or a tad more, of pastry depending on the size of your Tree. Mine was 12 inches from tip to bottom and 9 inches at its widest branches.

Mincemeat - about three-four large tablespoonfuls 

some beaten egg for the edges

icing sugar to make a little icing

coloured shiny balls, 

a little red and green fondant icing for the shiny balls

Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and pre heat your fan oven to 190C

Roll our your chilled pastry into 2 oblongs of just over 9 x 12 inches. Of course you can go bigger if you wish.

Place your template over the pastry oblongs and cut two Tree shapes. Place one onto your baking sheet, on top of the parchment and pop it into the oven for ten mins. Allow to cool for a few moments then brush the edges with the beaten egg and cover almost to the edges with the mincemeat.

Cover with the second Tree and make sure you seal the edges securely. I lightly pressed with a fork.

Bake for about 20-25 mins. Remove from the oven when nicely brown and allow to cool, keeping it on the parchment. I slid it carefully onto a wire rack.

Make a simple water icing - or use lemon juice.

Transfer to a serving serving dish, keeping the parchment underneath but cutting it neatly to the shape of your Tree. Spread over the icing, almost to the edges OR using a piping bag go back and forth mimicking a garland. Whatever you fancy!

Now decorate. Well, what can I suggest, feel free to do whatever you like!! Mine is a bit rough and ready, I am not artistic at all!

Enjoy!! Please forgive me if I take a few days to reply to any messages. It is a busy time of year.

My best shortcrust. here it its again……

¾ butter to plain flour. So - 8 oz flour to 5 oz COLD cubed butter. Place in a food processor, along with a tablespoonful of icing sugar and pulse a few times, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add an egg yolk and perhaps a teaspoonful of COLD water. Pulse a few times more. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and bring together, then chill for at least 15-20 mins. This should be enough for the Trees.

I use this recipe for so much. If savoury e.g. quiche, leave out the icing sugar and add salt and pepper and perhaps a little mustard powder.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Panettone Trifle

As Xmas draws near, I am going to share with you my absolutely favourite Xmas dessert, apart from Xmas Pudding. We mostly eat it on Boxing day, when we always have a house full, and at other times of the year too, like birthdays!! The pictured Trifle will feed about 15, maybe more - or just one son in law!! Yes, you John!! and before I continue, I must tell you it is wickedly expensiveI But heck, its once a year! It more or less exactly fits into a traditional footed trifle bowl. A friend passed this recipe on to me some years ago and I have been making it ever since. It can be made the day before, in fact I think it is better if you do that. If making it other times of the year, make sure you get the Panettone during the festive period - they always have long dates. I always use the classic Panettone, with the fruit and peel.

Before you start, assemble all the components in front of you. I cheat and buy ready made luxury custard pots, usually Sainsbury’s. I buy the Panettone in Lidl.

1 x large Panettone

about ⅓ of a bottle of sweet dessert wine eg marsala

1 packet of Trifle sponge fingers  [200gr packet]

Whole packet of shelled pistachios [about 160 gr +]

1 and a  ½ large pots of 600 ml Double Cream i.e. 900ml [you can use both of course]

2 x large pots of luxury ready made custard 500ml each

approx 4 trays of raspberries

Place the trifle sponges in a strong poly bag and crush. No need to be too exact]. Roughly chop the pistachios. Lightly whip the double cream - you can add a tablespoon of icing sugar if you wish].

Get a glass and taste the wine to make sure it is sweet enough! - you never know it might be gone off!

Slice the Panettone into slices around half an inch thick. Trim off, very thinly, the dark bits. [no need really but I like to].

Start your layering. Cover the base with a layer of Panettone and sprinkle generously with Marsala. Now a layer of raspberries, making sure you place them around the edge neatly and throw a few in the middle. Now custard, then crushed sponge fingers, and a third of your nuts. Carefully cover with the whipped cream.


Cover with the last third of your Panettone, more marsala - of course, and after allowing it to soak through, cover with the last of your whipped double cream.

Now you can decorate the top with the red and green with the last of the raspberries and pistachios, the colours of Xmas.

I do hope you have a go, if you are looking for a special dessert to feed a crowd. I honestly cannot tell you how scrumptious it is.


Note: You can adjust the quantities to your taste. More cream - go for it!! Nuttier? Why not? I have tried it with strawberries, but it is not as good, but still fantastic.