Guest post and recipe by Kate Jordin, the award winning cake artist behind The Bake Well Tart.
Every year it is the same… this Christmas lark creeps up on me. One day I’m waving my kids off for another school year and then, suddenly it’s December and I’m not in the least bit ready for it!
Then it begins… School Christmas plays, Christmas cake and hamper orders and classes, present buying and wrapping (why does wrapping take so much longer than you think?), parties and numerous Christmas meals, Christmas train trips/grotto visits/reindeer feeding and relative visiting… it’s not surprising that we often crash into Christmas Eve feeling jaded and distinctly UNfestive.
There was a time I used to love nothing more than spending my Sundays pottering around the kitchen trying out new recipes, but as I now make cakes for a living, Sundays more often tend to be a day off from baking. Of course I still love baking, still play with new recipes but it tends to be a weekday thing now, not so much weekend recreation.
Christmas baking is different though. Whether it is the aromas, the once-a-year novelty or just because despite the craziness it brings to my life, I do still LOVE Christmas. So when it rolls around to mid-November and I start making plans to steep fruit, make pastry and bake Christmas cakes I do get a little bit excited.
So even if I start to feel slightly grinchy at the thought of all that impending festive expectation, I put some time aside to make this mincemeat ready for homemade mince pies. As soon as the intoxicating aromas of steeping fruit and spices starts to fill the kitchen, I am transported to that Christmas wonderland that really only exists in cheesy Christmas films.
If you’ve only ever gone for making the jar of mincemeat kinda mince pies, commendable though that is, this recipe will change your life. Ok, that may be taking it a bit far, but it will most definitely change your mince pies. And please don’t think for a minute that making this mincemeat is some sort of complicated faff, the worst bit is peeling and chopping the apples. Honestly. The recipe really is as complex as just measuring a load of ingredients, and yes ok there’s the apples, but then you just throw everything in a pan and leave it to work its magic.
I made it for the first time about ten years ago, when I found the recipe in Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess book, and I was hooked. Like I always do, I’ve adapted it over the years, and along with steeping the fruit for Christmas cakes, making this mincemeat is my early Christmas ritual every year. I jar it up in sterilised jars and it lasts for at least a month, probably more.
Try it and I promise you’ll be doing the Jingle Bell Rock all around the kitchen…
- 250 g soft brown sugar
- 250 ml medium cider
- 1 kg apples peeled and quartered (I’ve made it with both cooking apples or eating apples and both have been fine)
- 250 g currants
- 250 g raisins
- 100 g chopped glace cherries roughly chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- zest and juice of half an orange
- 90 ml brandy
- Grab a large lidded pan and tip the sugar and cider in, give it a good stir. Heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, giving it the occasional stir.
- Add the apples, currants, raisins, cherries, and spices along with the rind and orange juice. Give it a good stir.
- Leave the whole lot on a low heat, to gently muddle together and fill your house with the smell of Christmas for at least half an hour, or until it looks glossy and delicious.
- Take off the heat and add the brandy, give a good rousing stir, and either use straight away or spoon into freshly sterilised jars.