Mince Pies

Mince Pies

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Welcome to Day 6 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

Mince pies are a Christmas essential, and these are really simple to make. They are perfect to make for Christmas gatherings, and are easy for children to get involved with!

You can vary the additions to the mincemeat – I also like using orange zest and chocolate chips, or you can add other dried fruits like cherries and apricots. You can also use different toppings, I like to use a brown sugar meringue, or a simple crumble mixture as an alternative to pastry.

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Cranberry and Dark chocolate cookies

Cranberry and Dark chocolate cookies

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Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These cookies are really quick to make, perfect for baking when unexpected visitors pop in! They’re best eaten straight from the oven, while the chocolate is still melted. They work really well with cranberries and dark chocolate, but you can use whatever chocolate you have in the cupboard. Orange zest also works really well in place of the cinnamon.

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Blackberry Bakewell Tart

Blackberry Bakewell Tart

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Blackberrying is definitely one of my favourite Autumn things to do. I love going on long walks at this time of year, when the leaves are just turning orange, and the air always smells of bonfires, to return home with boxes (and boxes!) of glistening purple blackberries, just waiting to be turned into amazing autumnal bakes! Because this is the best time to pick and eat blackberries, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be doing a series of blackberry-themed bakes, starting today!

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This week was pies and tarts week on the bake off, and none of the bakes particularly inspired me. We are not fans of custard tart in our house, so that was out, and the 3 tiered celebration pie didn’t really appeal either – who needs that much pie?! So I decided to go for Bakewell tart, a classic, with an autumnal twist in the form of blackberries.

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Orange hot cross buns

Orange hot cross buns

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Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without Hot Cross buns, and they are the perfect thing to bake on Easter Saturday: leave them to prove during the day, bake them in the evening, and they’ll be ready for Easter Sunday breakfast!  When I was little I used to call them ‘hot scone buns’, but now I think they’re much better than scones – especially flavoured with orange and cinnamon and studded with raisins and citrus peel like these ones.

These are best eaten freshly baked from the oven, but are just as good up to 3 days after, lightly toasted and spread with butter. Image

For the buns:
  • 300ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 200g mix of raisins, sultanas and mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross

  • 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (see Tip, below) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
  2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
  3. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
  4. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
  5. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses (see Tip below). Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
  6. Bubble the honey and sugar in a saucepan until syrupy, then brush over the buns to glaze.

Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood

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