Friday, 9 December 2016


First festive bake of 2016 ... the classic mince pie!

Ingredients: Large jar of mincemeat (about 600g), 375g plain flour, 260g butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 large eggs

Time Taken: Up to an hour to make, and then 20 minutes to bake.

Hi readers,

Happy Friday!!

That’s it you have OFFICIALLY made it to the weekend… high five!! Hopefully, you've been able to walk out of work and leave it all behind, put it out of your mind, chuck your workwear in the wash, grab a drink, and look forward to some free time over the next couple of days, spent with friends and family.

If your work is anything like as busy as mine right now, with the December rush going on, then it’s crazy and I bet you’re bloody relieved to have made it to the weekend! I certainly am. In the week, my To Do list at the moment seems never-ending. I’m trying to fit bits and bats of Christmas shopping in around daily life. I’m living out of an overstuffed handbag. I’m running around ticking off notes written in biro on my hand.

Not good! Does this sound like you?? If it does then CALM THE FUCK DOWN. I say that both to myself and to anyone over-stretching themselves at this time of year. Don’t do it! The stress has already taken its toll on me – I’ve had a wisdom tooth explode this week and now I can’t drink my festive litre of Baileys for seven days, as I’m on a week-long course of anti-biotics. What joy.
Advent calendar chocolates are now all I have left

Sucks to be me and LET ME WARN YOU this could happen to anyone. So if you value your booze and if you would like to stay healthy over the festive season… then slooooow things down a little. That’s my plan for the weekend, readers, and I highly recommend you do the same.

Think – in just over two weeks all this madness will be over! It will be behind us for another year! So slooow things down and try to enjoy Christmas while it’s here. Make the most of all the festivities going on around you – and also remember to take some time to chill at home with your Christmas tree. Find a classic film on TV. Look after yourself and your sanity.

My tree <3

This week, readers, I admitted defeat to my poorly mouth on Wednesday night, cancelled plans I’d made to go out with the Father Bear, and instead settled in to enjoy some rare time at home. With the tree up and the house trimmed and Smooth Radio playing its Sanctuary at Seven. Life was glorious. I donned my comfy pj’s and launched festive baking!!

There’s so much fun to be had baking at this time of year, readers, with gingerbread, and mince pies, and Yule logs, and Christmas cake, and Christmas pud… tis the season for baking! I thoroughly intend to make the most of this, readers, and kicked things off on Wednesday baking some classic mince pies.

Love them or hate them – it wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies. They travel well, so they’re ideal for taking into the office, and out of X number of colleagues there’s bound to be at least a few who will eat them.

Storycatchers do fine dining ... and mince pies
So, that’s just what I did this week. I baked my first batch of mince pies on Wednesday night, took them into work the next morning, and by 11am on Thursday they were all gone! I spread some cheer for at least an hour or two with my baking. No joke – I had an email from someone saying it was the best mince pie they had ever eaten. A success!

Ready to whip up the best batch of mince pies you ever will bake??? Using only 5 ingredients?! Here’s how it’s done…

1.     Pour yourself a boozy beverage.
2.     Heat your oven to around 200C.
3.     Measure out the flour and butter, and rub together in a large mixing bowl until your mix has turned to crumbs.
4.     Add the sugar and one egg to the bowl, and mix together using a wooden spoon.
5.     When your mixture starts to come together, get your hand back in the bowl and press it all together into one big ball of dough.
6.     Tip your ball of dough onto a plate and then pop it in the fridge to chill for ten minutes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Our fridge is feeble at chilling so I made an executive decision and put my dough in the freezer instead for ten minutes. No harm done – use your best judgement here.
7.     Wash all that dough off your hands and then enjoy ten minutes of Christmas tunes.

Get rockin' around the Christmas tree
8.     Top up your beverage, locate your rolling pin, and then sprinkle a clean kitchen surface and your rolling pin with flour.
9.     Remove your dough from the fridge and roll out until it’s maybe half a centimetre thick.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I didn’t measure my pastry thickness so this is just guesswork here – but we’ve all eaten pastry before. You’re aiming for not-too-think and not-too-thin, y’know?
10.  Get your muffin tins out and grease 16 muffin holes with butter.
11.  Use a round pastry cutter (or the rim of a wine glass) to cut 16 circles out of your pastry, and then press each one into a hole in your muffin tin.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Make sure to patch up any holes in your pastry, as we don’t want the filling to leak out later on!
12.  Use a tablespoon to add a generous dollop of mincemeat into each of your pastry cases, so that they’re all around three quarters full.
13.  Use a small star cutter (or a sharp knife) cut 16 star shapes out of your remaining pastry – you might need to re-roll to get enough stars.
14.  Place a star atop the filling of each mince pie.
15.  Crack your second egg into a mug and then beat with a fork.
16.  Use a pastry brush to glaze the stars and the edges of your pastry cases with egg – this will help them to turn a nicely baked colour in the oven.

Here are my mince pies... glazed and ready to go!

Used leftover pastry to make a giant mince pie!

17.  Carefully transport your mince pies into the oven, and leave to bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
18.  Use this time to clear up the chaotic scene around you! Wash your dishes and top up that drink again.
19.  Safely remove your mince pies from the oven and run a sharp knife around the edge of each, to make sure it doesn’t stick to the tin.
20.  Leave to cool in the tin for at least 20 minutes, and then either serve your mince pies to your guests, gobble them up yourself, or Tupperware for friends and family.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I wouldn’t advocate trying to eat a mince pie until it is properly cooled as the filling can be MOLTEN when they’re freshly baked. You have been warned.

And, readers, that’s all there is to it. You’ve spent an hour or so of your time, festively de-stressing and drinking, in the comfort of your own home. And from this wonderful hour you’ve produced enough baking to offset an hour, possibly two hours, of office madness.

My beautiful golden mince pies!

And a giant mince pie for my grandad

Give it a go!! Is this the best mince pie you’ve ever eaten?? Am I right or am I right?? C’mon! Have fun baking and let me know how it goes!

Get your bake on. Stay sane. Sit down. Eat mince pies.

Drink-bake safely readers,

(try to remember which glass you’re using a pastry cutter and which one is filled with wine)


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