- 240g plain flour
- 60g vegetable shortening, such as copha (this is used to make chocolate crackles)
- 60g cold butter
- Juice of 1 orange
- Pinch of salt
- Approx. 350g mincemeat
- Icing sugar for dusting
Get out a tray of miniature tart tins, each indent 4.5cm in diameter, along with a 5.5cm fluted, round biscuit cutter and a 4cm star cutter.
Measure the flour into a shallow bowl or dish and, with a teaspoon, dollop little mounds of vegetable shortening into the bowl, add the butter, diced small, shake and cover it, then put in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is what will make the pastry so tender and flaky later.
Mix together the orange juice and salt in a separate, small bowl, cover and leave in the fridge to chill.
After 20 minutes, empty the flour and fat into the bowl of your Food Processor and blitz until you’ve got a pale pile of porridge-like crumbs. Pour the salted juice down the funnel, pulsing until it looks as if the dough is about to cohere; you want to stop just before it does (even if some orange juice is left). If all your juice is used up and you need more liquid, add some iced water.
If you prefer to use a freestanding mixer to make the pastry, cut the fats into the flour with the flat paddle, leaving the bowl in the fridge to chill down for the 20 minute flour-and-fat-freezer session. Add liquid as above. The pasty may need more liquid in the mixer than the processor.
Turn the mixture out of the processor or mixing bowl onto a pastry board or work surface and, using your hands, combine to a dough. Then form 3 discs (you’ll need to make these in 3 batches, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once)
Wrap each disc in glad wrap and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7.
Roll out the discs, one at a time, as thinly as you can without exaggerating; in other words, you want a light pasty case, but one sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat. This is easy-going dough, so you don’t have to pander to it; just get rolling and patch up as you need.
Out of each rolled-out disc cut out circles a little wider than the indentations in the tart tins; I use a fluted cookie cutter for this. Press these circles gently into the moulds and dollop in a scant teaspoon of mincemeat.
Then cut out your stars with your little star cutter – re-rolling the pastry as necessary – and place the tops lighly on the mincemeat.
Put in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes; keep an eye on them as they really don’t take long and ovens do a vary.
Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and letting the empty tin cool down before you start putting the pastry for the next batch. Carry on until they’re all done.
Dust over some icing sugar by pushing it through a tea strainer.
This recipe is from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson