Karen and I both loves mince pies, who doesn't! For me, it's Karen's mammoth mince pie baking sessions, filling the house with their sweet and spicy aroma, which kick-starts the whole festive season. I do my bit by making the mincemeat... and eating the pies obviously!
This year I've used a recipe from The Big Apple's 3rd collection of Apple & Cider, Pear & Perry Recipes, a terrific little booklet produced by the Big Apple Association, 'a Herefordshire based group dedicated to promoting English orchards, apples and cider'. I've tweaked the recipe slightly, we like our mincemeat slightly sweeter than they do in Herefordshire.
900g Bramley Apples
Juice and grated peel of an orange and a lemon
500g mixed dried fruit
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5tbsp cider brandy
Grate the apples and add everything else to a pan except the brandy. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for an hour. When thick and pulpy add the brandy, stir well and spoon into sterilised jars.
In the absence of any of our own I used a bottle of Henny's Vintage Still Cider, and topped it off with a drop of Zapiain Sagardoz, a rare cider brandy from Spain's Basque region. Is it too early for a batch of mince pies I wonder...