Mincemeat Pie

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch pie
Recipe: 78/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 99

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    Like most people, I strongly dislike wasting food. As such, whenever I have some fruits or vegetables, or any other ingredient for that matter, laying around that I know will probably turn bad before I get to consume it, I search for a recipe that I could make to use it up and prevent wastage. Last week I had a combination of apples that were getting soft, raisins, dates and prunes, the last of which I wouldn’t even think of eating just like that. To my surprise, I was able to find a perfect recipe in “Back to Baking” that would allow me to use all of these ingredients! I call upon… the mincemeat pie. Do not be fooled. This is not a meat pie or a “tourtière” in Quebecois, but rather a British dessert consisting of dried fruits, juices and some syrup.

   I had never had mincemeat pie and was very curious to both make it and try it. Fortunately, this recipe was not complicated to make. Essentially put everything in a pot except the maple syrup and honey, then add those until the mixture is bubbling and thickened. The pie looked good, smelled delicious because of the cloves, but… I was left surprisingly disappointed. Now the problem is that since I never had mincemeat pie, I don’t know if I don’t like this pie I made, or if I just don’t like mincemeat pie in general. I think that it is rather the latter. I could tell that the taste was there – sweet but not sickeningly so, but something about the texture made me stop after two bites. I was never really a fan of the texture of dried fruits, but dried prunes specifically is what got me. Nonetheless, I brought this pie at work to hand off to colleagues (Note: worry not, to be fair I did warn them that I personally did not like it), and some brave souls tried it. The novice mincemeat pie eaters thought it was good; no more, no less. However, an older colleague of mine that really enjoys mincemeat pie told me that it was really good and that she was stunned to know that I made the filling myself. What I am trying to convey here is that if you like mincemeat pie, you will probably like this recipe. It is what it is meant to be, it seems!

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough, chilled
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples (such as Granny Smith), cut in 1 cm pieces
  • 1 cup Thomson raisins
  • ½ cup chopped pitted dates
  • ½ cup chopped pitted prunes
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • ⅓ cup apple juice (or cider)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons quick-cook tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup maple syrup

Ingredients for brushing:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Pulled the chilled pie dough from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to rolling. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead one disc of the pie dough slightly to soften, then roll it out to a circle of about ¼ inch thick. Dust a 9-inch pie plate with flour and place the rolled pastry into the shell. Roll the second disc in the same fashion, place it onto a tray and chill both while preparing the filling.
  3. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, stir the apples, raisins, dates, prunes, walnuts, apple juice (or cider), lemon juice, orange zest, cocoa powder, tapioca and spices until the mixture just begins to bubble.
  4. Add the honey and maple syrup, and stir until the fruits simmer. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. Spoon the filling into the chilled pie shell and spread to level. Cut a hole in the centre of the second pastry sheet and place it over the mincemeat. Trim and pinch the edges.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the top of the pie pastry with this egg wash, and place the pie on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for another 45 minutes, or until the crust is an even golden brown. Cool the pie for at least 3 hours before slicing to serve.

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Valerie

Oat and Dried Fruit Squares

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: about 16-20 bars
Recipe: 68/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 73

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    I was way overdue to make some granola bar of some sort. I had some doubts with this recipe, not because I didn’t trust it but rather because I have never been a fan of dried fruits. However, this recipe yields filling and tasty oat and fruit bars. These are somewhat sweet due to the corn syrup, brown sugar and to the natural sweetness of the dried fruits, which makes for a perfect snack when craving something sweet but not too unhealthy! This recipe was simple too make, but I would personally increase the ingredients for the oat mixture by 150% because I found that the measures as is were not sufficient to cover the whole pan. Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden corn syrup
  • 2  3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepot.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup until evenly blended.
  4. In a bowl, combine together the oats and the spices.
  5. Pour the butter mixture over the oats and stir to combine all ingredients.
  6. Press half of the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkled the dried fruits over the base, then top with the remaining oat mixture. Press down gently on the mixture.
  7. Bake the squares for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown on the surface. Cool the pan completely before taking out the squares.

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Valerie

Light Fruitcake Ring

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 8-cup bundt cake
Recipe: 60/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 250

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   My dad is generally not a huge fan of desserts, but one thing he adores during the holiday season is fruitcake. He always receives the store-bought fruitcakes as a gift (the ones with the red and green cherries). I thought that this year I would make him a big fruitcake that he could enjoy endlessly. I am not an avid eater of fruitcake myself, but according to him this fruitcake is delicious and very tasty. Much better than the ones sold in stores, he claims. What I further like about this recipe is that it has many small steps but in the end, it is not so complicated. The hardest part, I think, is the 5-day waiting period before tasting it! I urge you to try this recipe if you or someone you know like fruitcakes. 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup diced Candied Citrus Peel
  • 3 oz. (85 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup amber rum (e.g. Bacardi Gold), plus extra for brushing cake
  • 2  1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Stir the pecans, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, citrus peel and chocolate with the rum. Cover and let sit for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease an 8-cup bundt pan.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cloves and salt together. Add the fruit and rum mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, honey, milk and egg yolks. Stir this into the fruit mixture.
  5. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until the hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Fold this into the cake batter in two additions.
  6. Spread this mixture into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 20 minutes in the pan, then turn it out to cool.
  7. While still warm, brush the surface of the cake with rum. Once completely cooled, brush the cake again with rum. Wrap and store the cake for 5 days before slicing.

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Valerie