Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whisky Mince Pies

Vesta's original recipe published in the Argus on 23 December 1937 calls for 1 gill of caramel, but since I don't know what form of caramel is meant and a later recipe is identical except that it uses brandy, I'm going with the hard stuff. 

Whisky Mince Pies

375g raisins 
250g sultana
125g currants
250g candied peel (orange and lemon)
2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
250g suet, finely chopped, or 250g butter, melted
375g brown sugar
grated rind of one lemon and one orange and the juice of both
15g mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons whisky or brandy

Finely chop or put through a fine mincer the raisins, sultanas, currants, apples and peel. Add the sugar, spices, rind and juice of the orange and lemon, the suet or melted butter and the whisky. Mix thoroughly, pack into a jar, cover and leave until required.

For the cases, make a good shortcrust pastry using 150g butter to 240g plain flour and mixing with water to a fairly stiff paste. Do not forget a pinch of salt, and, if liked, a tablespoon of sugar may be added. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Then add the water.

Make the pastry early in the morning so that it will not become soft. Roll out to 1/2 cm thickness.

The pies may be made in rather big patty-pans, the pans being lined with pastry, and the tops put on and pinched. Butter the patty-pans before lining them, to ensure that the pies will slip out easily when cooked. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with very little sugar.

Alternatively, form little cases by cutting rounds for the bottom and top, and a strip about 4cm wide for the sides. Brush the edge of the bottom circles with milk or water to make the sides adhere, and do the same where the ends of the side piece overlap a little. Fill each case as it is made, so that it keeps in shape. Put on the top, pinch the edges all round to give a fluted border, brush the top with milk mixed with a very little sugar, prick it all over with a sharp fork, and bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

Christmas Pudding

This rich Christmas pudding is remarkably similar to the one published in Vesta's Woman to Woman column in the Argus on 9 January 1929. My mother handed it down to me and I fondly imagined her mother had passed it down from her Scottish foremothers. Maybe she just read the Argus

Best made 7 to 14 days before required, my mother's recipe uses butter instead of suet and is flavoured with rum, sherry or whisky instead of the juice and rind of one lemon.

The recipe makes one large or three small puddings. I use a large aluminium steam pudding basin with clips but it can be boiled in a floured cloth.

Christmas Pudding

250g butter
250g brown sugar
5 eggs
250g sultanas
250g raisins
125g currants
60g dried figs
60g dates
60g maraschino cherries 
60g blanched almonds, chopped
3 tablespoons rum, sherry or whisky
180g plain flour
180g soft breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda

Macerate fruits (sultanas, raisins, currants, figs, dates, cherries) in rum, sherry or whisky; cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight; stir in chopped almonds.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until soft; add sugar and beat to a cream; add eggs one at a time and beat evenly through.

Add prepared fruits alternately with sifted flour, breadcrumbs, spices and soda.

Place the mixture in a greased basin, leaving about 5 cms at the top. Cover with two thicknesses of greased paper or tinfoil, tie securely and steam in a saucepan of water with the lid on. The water needs to be 1/3 to 1/2 way up the basin and should be checked and topped up when necessary. Boil for 4 hours and again for 2 hours on the day of reheating. Serves 10-12.