These festive fruit mince pies are butter-free, oil-free, gluten-free and packed with fruit.
It’s December! Which means Christmas is officially around the corner – as shopping malls have been trying to tell me for months now.
Today, December 1, also happens to be National Pie Day! To celebrate, I have an ol’ British classic: Fruit mince pies. Fruit mince pies are essentially a mixture of dried fruit, festive spices and brandy inside a shortbread pastry. Since I’m me, I skipped the butter in favor of one of my favorite foods: sweet potatoes.
The pastry recipe posted below is more of a crunchy cookie/graham cracker (or in British English, biscuit) type crust. If you’re after a buttery crust (the type you’d have on an apple pie), then I’d recommend using your favorite pastry recipe. Really, I won’t be offended.
There’s only one ingredient I’m feeling picky about: the brandy. Sure, there are only two tablespoons of the stuff, but the pies really aren’t the same without it. Brandy adds that je ne sais quoi to fruit mince pies. Uh, except they’re English (and apparently date back several hundred years – probably to a time when the British and French were having some sort of skirmish).
I realize that Thanksgiving is well and truly over now, but there’s one thing that’s been on my mind for almost a week now: the annual pardoning of the turkey. When I watched Obama pardon ‘Cheese’, I first thought it was kind of endearing – this turkey with a ridiculous name was going to be spared and live out its life on a farm.
Actually that’s not entirely true – my very first thought was ‘&@$% that’s a giant turkey!’
But now I just can’t help but wonder: How do you ‘pardon’ a turkey? Doesn’t a person – or a turkey – need to have committed a crime before it can be pardoned? I’m probably overthinking this, but was Cheese a criminal in the turkey world? Or simply booked on one count of being a turkey?
I’m not anti-turkey pardoning, just befuddled by the terminology.
Ok, I’m definitely overthinking this. Let’s go back to talking about pies.
Not surprisingly, I’ve included my favorite dried fruit mixture in the fruit mince recipe. If you’d like to change some of the dried fruits, that should be A-OK. Just aim for similar-sized fruits – i.e. don’t swap dried apricots for currants, or prunes for raisins.
And one last thing about the pastry – if you don’t have any white rice flour, use all-purpose flour, spelt flour, or a gluten-free blend instead. I wouldn’t use brown rice flour as the flavor may overwhelm the pastry.
Question of the Day
Are you looking forward to December? Also, I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts regarding turkey pardoning (I have literally been thinking about this ever since Cheese was pardoned).
- 1 cup (105g) rolled oats
- ⅔ cup (75g) almond meal
- ⅓ cup (50g) white rice flour, plus extra
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup (90g) sweet potato puree
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- ~ 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 x Fruit Mince Pie Filling (recipe follows)
- Milk, for brushing the pies
- Use a coffee grinder (or food processor or blender) to grind the oats into a flour. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the almond meal, white rice flour and salt, and mix to combine.
- Mix in the sweet potato puree, egg yolk and orange juice. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water. If the dough is too wet, add more white rice flour.
- Shape the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease 10 mini pie dishes with cooking oil spray, and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- Lightly flour a flat surface with rice flour. Roll out the dough to approximately ⅛-inch thick. Cut out circles of dough, then carefully transfer to the prepared pie dishes, and press into the bases and sides of the dishes.
- With any remaining dough, use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.
- Divide the Fruit Mince Pie Filling between the prepared pie dishes. Place cut-out shapes of dough on top of the filling. Brush the pies with milk, and place them on the prepared baking tray.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly browned and appears to be cooked through. Let cool in the mini pie dishes for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.
- If desired, dust the pies with confectioner's sugar (icing sugar). Enjoy!
To make fresh sweet potato puree, roast (or boil) a sweet potato, and puree the flesh (don't puree the skin!)
- For the fruit:
- ½ cup (75g) raisins, halved if large
- ¼ cup (40g) golden raisins, halved if large
- ½ cup (65g) chopped dates
- ⅓ cup (55g) chopped apricots
- ⅛ cup (20g) candied mixed peel
- ⅛ cup (35g) chopped candied (glacé) cherries
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For everything else:
- ⅓ cup whole almonds, chopped (50g)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- 1/16 teaspoon ginger
- Zest of 1 orange (~ 1 tablespoon zest)
- 1 small green apple
- In a large bowl, combine the raisins, golden raisins, dates, apricots, mixed peel and candied cherries. Add the brown sugar, brandy and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight.
- The next day, add the almonds, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and orange zest. Use a box grater to shred the apple into the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until completely combined. (This step can be done while the pastry – in the recipe for Fruit Mince Pies - is chilling, i.e. Step 3 in the recipe above).