Mince Pies (vegan, nut, dairy, refined-sugar & gluten free)

One of my favourite things about the holidays is having my family back together in the kitchen. It was always the heart of the house for us growing up and I love having everyone together, chatting, cooking, snacking, dancing, even the occasional arguing... the kitchen sees it all.

My mum has always been a keen advocate for organic food, so Christmas has always included lots of organic veg, sourced as locally as possible, and cooked with love! But baking was never our strong point as a family, so experimenting with the sweet stuff has only come over the last few years when my sister and I had to ditch the shop bought treats!

So last weekend, my sister and I got together in her gorgeous kitchen to perfect one of our favourite things: mince pies. I actually really didn't like them as a child but certainly developed a taste for them in later years. These ones are vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free but what they lack in allergens they make up for in indulgence!

To me, these are the perfect ratio of pastry to filling and unlike shop-bought mince pies, the apple softens to give a softer centre.

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Ingredients

Makes 12 mince pies

Note: You will need a muffin tray

 

for the pastry

400g of flour (I used half buckwheat and half oat)

2 teaspoons of maple syrup

160g of coconut oil

20g of coconut sugar

115ml of milk of choice (I used hazelnut)

large pinch of salt

for the mincemeat filling

2 large apples (cooking or regular)

160g of solid coconut oil

2 large oranges

250g of sultanas

4-5 tablespoons of coconut sugar

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

1-2 teaspoons of ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180c.

Core the apples and cut them into small cubes. Place them in a large saucepan on a medium-low heat and add the zest and juice of the oranges. Then add the spices, sultanas and 3 tablespoons of sugar and stir. Then leave for around 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.

In the mean time you can start the pastry...

In a food processor (or a mixing bowl), pulse together the flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt and sugar for the pastry. Then add the milk pit by bit until you get the right consistency so that it holds when pressed between your fingers.

Depending on the size of your dish, you might have to do a little trial and error here. Try not to overheat the pastry as the firmness of the coconut oil helps it to hold. Roll out the pastry to 1/2 cm thickness and make disks using a mug or pastry cutter so that they are the right size for your muffin tray. Then line each of the muffin spaces with pastry and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they begin to brown. There should be enough pastry left over to make the tops.

Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper and pour the mincemeat mix onto the tray. Then, according to taste, sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the mix and place it in the oven with the bases. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.

While everything is in the oven, use the remaining pastry to make decorative tops for your pies. I made stars and Christmas trees with a sharp knife - if you have pastry cutters you can use them in stead!

Once the pastry is beginning to brown, remove the muffin tray and the filling from the oven and spoon a generous amount of mixture into the bases. If there is any filling left at the end, it is DELICIOUS with porridge! Then place the pastry decorative tops on each pie and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes. You can glaze halfway through with a small brush of your chosen milk, but just be weary that too much will make the pastry soggy!

Then remove from the oven and serve hot or cold. These can be reheated too.

This recipe was created in collaboration with the #FeedYourHappy and #OrganicChristmas campains. You can check out the Soil Association Organic Market Place to find your local organic market to help you find the best produce for your holiday cooking and more recipes and info at www.feedyourhappy.co.uk

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Sweet TreatsAnnie Clarke