Vegan Mincemeat & Mince Pies (With Gluten Free option) love Christmas!

Vegan Mincemeat & mince pies

“Oh Christmas” – I hear you groan! But now is the time to start to plan ahead for the festive season.

But times are hard and we have to watch our spending, that is true, but that doesn’t mean we really need to go without those staples of a family christmas and mince pies for our family are one of those really comforting treats with a cup of tea (of course).

There are some really good vegan and dairy free products available ready made in the shops, check out Foodmentalists amazing gluten free, dairy free mince pies http://www.facebook.com/foodamentalists if you really don’t have time to indulge in homemade. Or if you fancy a little DIY check out this recipe –  Foodamentalists do amazing Dairy Free /Gluten Free, Vegan pastry mixes too, or maybe you would like to share your favourite recipe) but certainly free of dairy, egg etc. – no animal products please – if you source right can be vegan with very little effort!

For the FAT FREE MINCEMEAT

(based on a recipe from Rosemary Conley’s Low Fat Cookbook ISBN 0 7126 8462X http://amzn.to/UxVwe3)

Makes about 1.3kg

Ingredients (Here’s the what…)

500g Cooking apples

900g Dried mixed fruit

Spices 2 teapoons each Cimmamon, Ginger, All-spice, Mixed Spice

1 teaspoon Mace

600ml Medium sweet cider (We use Burrow Hill Cider)

2 tablespoons Whisky, Brandy or Rum (We use Burrow Hill Apple Brandy)

Method (here’s the how!)

Peel and core the apples, and place with the mixed fruit into a saucepan then add the spices and the cider.

Heat gently to a simmer, stirring often, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken and the liquid has been soaked up.

Stir in your choice of spirit and allow to cool.

Once cool pack into sterilised jars and store in the fridge until required, you can also freeze this mixture. If refridgerating you can make this up to 4 months in advance.

Dairy Free, Vegan Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (with Gluten Free option)

(Adapted from http://ediblethings.net/2011/12/09/vegan-sweet-shortcrust-pastry/)

(Makes Enough for about 12 mince pies or enough for top and bottom for a yummy apple pie!)

Ingredients

200g Plain flour ** see below for a Gluten Free flour blend)

75g Ground  Almonds (If nut free replace this with plain flour/GF flour)

125g Margarine (we use Vitalite – Dairy Free, Vegan Trademarked spread)

50g  Icing sugar

Zest of a lemon

For a gluten free ‘plain flour’

Mix together in a bowl the following, then store and use as for plain flour (will store for up to 3 months).

6 cups rice flour

2 cups potato starch aka potato flour

1 cup gluten-free cornflour

Method

First, measure the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl, and zest the lemon into a separate container. Take the margarine out of the fridge, and try to work with it as cold as you can. Add the margarine to the flour. Try to hold as little of it in your hand as possible, to avoid melting.  Rub the flour, sugar and margarine to a fine breadcrumb, by rubbing your hands through the flour and margarine with your thumb over your upturned fingers

At this point, mix in the lemon zest.

Then get some cold water in a jug – run the tap a little first to make sure that it is as cold as you can. Pour a little at a time into the flour and margarine mix and stir with your hands until it comes together to form a nice dough. At this point cover tightly with cling film or foil. Refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow the pastry to relax. If you don’t do this, the pastry will be difficult to work with, and may be too sticky or too short (crumbly).

Roll the pastry out thinly on a well floured surface. To get it even, turn it 90 degrees after each roll, and this should give you an almost circular piece of dough to work with. If you do not need all the dough at once, cut it in half, and put the bit you are not working with back in the fridge, after you have wrapped it up again, until you need it

Making the pies

You will need: mince pie tin, soya or other milk alternative (couple of tablespoons) and pastry cutters

Grease your mince pie tins well and set to one side.

You will need two cutters one for the base and a smaller one for the top.

Cut 12 rounds of each size from your rolled pastry (I find that if you dip the cutter in flour first it makes the cutter easier to remove from the pastry).

Place the bases into your greased tins, and place a teaspoon full of your mincemeat into the base (Don’t overfll, or it will expand and burn onto the tin).

With a little soya milk or other milk alternative dab around the edges of the tops to help them seal and pop them on, pressing down gently around the edges.

Cut a slit in the centre to let the steam escape and brush with a little water or milk alternative.

Place the prepared pies into the fridge or somewhere cool for half an hour and preheat the oven (200C/400F/Gas 6)

Bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, take out and place on a cooling rack. When cool dredge with icing sugar, and enjoy with a well earned cup of tea!

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