Christmas would not be the same without mince pies, bursting with rich dried fruits, spices and citrus notes. After a glut of quince one year, I decided to add them to the mix, rather than the usual grated apple, and this was the delicious result, giving the mix a sweet, tart twist. Freshly chopped ginger lifts all the flavours up.
Ingredients - Makes 24 quince pies with leftover baked quince mincemeat *600 g (1lb 5 oz) quince (2–3 quince) *1 tbsp coconut oil, melted *1 x recipe basic pastry (see below), rolled out to about 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick *50 g (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) unsulphured dried apricots *100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) dates *100 g (3½ oz/scant ⅔ cup) raisins *100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) currants *100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) sultanas (seedless golden raisins) *25 g (¾ oz/3 tbsp) almonds, preferably soaked for 8–12 hours, roughly chopped *15 g (½ oz/2½ tbsp) peeled ginger, finely chopped *¼ whole nutmeg, grated *½ tsp mixed spice *¼ tsp ground cloves *¼ tsp ground cinnamon *Finely grated zest and juice of ½ large orange *Finely grated zest and juice of ½ large lemon *50 g (1¾ oz/scant ¼ cup) apple purée *¼ tsp coarse sea salt *1 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup *50 g (1¾ oz/¼ cup) coconut butter
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/310°F/Gas Mark 2½ and you will need two tartlet tins. Peel, core and cut the quince into eighths; you should have about 400 g (14 oz) of quince flesh. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with the melted coconut oil and bake for 30–40 minutes, or until tender. Turn up the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. 2. Cut out 24 rounds of pastry with a cookie cutter, large enough to fit your tartlet holes, and press the pastry in gently. I like to use a 6 cm (2½ inch) fluted cutter, but a plain one is fine. Cut out 24 tops (either make traditional plain round tops or cut out shapes like stars, hearts or holly) and place on a tray lined with baking parchment. Chill the tart cases and tops in the fridge until needed. 3. In a food processor, blitz the apricots and dates until small pieces. Add half the raisins, currants and sultanas (seedless golden raisins) and blitz again. You want the mix to all come together and be in small pieces, almost like mince, but not a paste. When the quince has cooled, add it to the dried fruits and blitz again until almost pulp but with some texture. 4. Remove from the food processor, tip into a large bowl and add the rest of the raisins, currants and sultanas (seedless golden raisins), the chopped almonds, ginger, spices, orange and lemon zest and juice, apple purée, salt and honey or maple syrup. Grate in the coconut butter, or finely chop it. Mix everything together with your hands, squeezing the mix through your fingers to make sure it is all really well combined and there are no large lumps of coconut butter. 5. Fill the lined tartlets with a generous amount of the quince mincemeat and then top with your prepared pastry discs or shapes. If you are using discs, slice a small cross in the middle of each pie disc using a sharp knife. Bake for 10–12 minutes, rotating the tray halfway until the tops are golden-brown. Serve straight from the oven or leave to cool and then warm up when needed. These quince pies last for at least five days in an airtight container. The mincemeat will keep for up to ten days in a sealed glass jar in the fridge or you can freeze it. It’s best to make this quince mincemeat fresh every year – I do this by storing quinces from October. I have given the amount of pastry to make 24 quince pies, but the quincemeat is enough to make at least 40 quince pies so increase or decrease the quantities accordingly if you prefer. I like to make one big batch fresh every year, bake off about half, and then keep the rest in the fridge or freezer ready for impromptu visits from family and friends, of which there seem to be a lot at Christmas! Freeze any leftover pastry for at least one month or bake off as biscuits (cookies).
Basic Pastry Recipe - Makes 550 g (1 lb 3 oz) pastry, enough to line two 23 cm (9 inch) round tart tins *150 g (5¼ oz/1 cup) buckwheat flour *150 g (5¼ oz/1¼ cups) ground almonds (almond meal) *60 g (2 oz/½ cup) coconut sugar *20 g (¾ oz/2½ tbsp) arrowroot *tsp Himalayan pink salt *Finely grated zest of 1 lemon *100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) coconut oil, plus extra for greasing *70 ml (2½ fl oz/¼ cup plus 2 tsp) cool water
Method I use a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment to make this pastry, but you can use a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula if preferred. 1. Grease your tins with coconut oil. Combine all the dry ingredients, including the lemon zest. A whisk is good for this as it gets rid of any lumps. 2. Melt the coconut oil and gradually pour it into the dry ingredients, followed by the water, mixing until everything is well combined. At this point, the dough can be wrapped in baking parchment and then cling film (plastic wrap) and frozen for up to one month or kept in the fridge for about five days.