Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who made all the pies?

That would be me. All 119 of them. Yesterday was the day I discovered just how much six cups of fruit mince really is, and how many little pies you have to make to use it up. Incidentally, it was also the day when I found out how important it is to be careful when pulling trays of fruit mince pies out of the oven.. but we'll come back to that.

The first thing I did on getting up yesterday morning was make my spice pastry (p81) This is the only variation of sweet short pastry I hadn't already made, and it sounded kind of Christmassy, so I'd decided to try it out on at least one batch of my pies.

I started with a single batch of spice pastry. I knew I'd need more than that, but I didn't want to make a heap of it and then not like it. It's made in exactly the same way as the plain sweet short pastry, only with a couple of teaspoons of mixed spice added.

The recipe states that it should make 'about 400g' of pastry, which sounds like a lot, but actually it made a disappointingly small ball of pastry. I knew I wasn't going to get as many pies out of it as I'd hoped. The pastry had to chill for at least half an hour, so I bunged it in the fridge while I pottered around getting the kitchen ready for making my Christmas mince pies (p81).

The Edmonds recipe for Christmas mince pies is pretty much the same as the way I usually make them: get some pastry, get some fruit mince, fill tins with pastry and mince, brush with egg and bake. Two parts of the recipe I ignored in favour of my usual procedure: I don't put lids on mine, and I like to make them in mini muffin tins instead of patty tins. They're a nicer shape and size that way.

Rolling out my pastry, I got my Christmas mince pies underway. The homemade pastry was just as workable as the bought stuff, though it didn't stand up as well to re-rolling over and over again, getting a bit gritty by the time I was cutting out my holly-leaf decorations for the top of the pies. I filled each pie with a teaspoon or so of fruit mince, (realising with dismay how long it would take to use up that bowl of fruit mince emptying it teaspoon by teaspoon) topped each pie with 'holly leaves' and brushed them with beaten egg.

After 10 minutes in the oven, I had my first 20 Christmas mince pies. They didn't look as appealing as my usual pies - the spice pastry looked a bit weird really - but they actually tasted pretty good. I decided to continue with the spice pastry, and mixed up a double batch to chill in the fridge while I walked to Bin Inn to acquire some of the necessary ingredients for other baking this week.

On returning from my walk, I got the pastry out and continued on with my pies. When that batch of pastry was finished, I had 59 pies - and still half the fruit mince to use. I was out of eggs, so I couldn't make any more pastry just yet. I set aside my baking and wandered into the Arts Centre for something I wanted from the market. Naturally, the stall I wanted wasn't there anymore, so I turned around and walked home, stopping off for some more eggs on the way.

I arrived home hot, exhausted, and with aching and blistered feet. After a short rest I made up a triple-batch of pastry, electing to use plain sweet shortcrust this time, and put it into the fridge to chill. It wasn't till the afternoon heat had abated somewhat that I ventured back into the kitchen.

I started working on a rotating system: one tray of pies in the oven, one being filled on the bench. This system worked quite well until I was taking the second-last tray out of the oven. Gleefully anticipating the moment when I could put the final tray in, I grasped the tray of pies too hurriedly and it slipped out of my hands as I was taking it out of the oven.

Fruit mince and smashed pastry were everywhere: floor; wall; warming drawer; oven door, and splattered all over the walls and racks of the oven, where it immediately started sizzling and wafting the delightful aroma of scorched fruit mince through my house.

It's slightly worrying that my first instinct was to grab the camera and take a couple of photos. After that most important task was completed, I turned to trying to clean up the mess. I cleaned up as much as I could immediately, but I really had no choice but to turn the oven off and let it cool down so I could scrub off the rest.

My final tray of fruit mince pies I cooked in my benchtop oven. This can be done quite easily (in fact, I always used to bake in that oven when I was in flats with horrible ovens) as long as you keep an eye on it and turn it around halfway.

So at that point I at least had all my pies made. I still hadn't quite used up all the fruit mince - there was a small amount left but I wasn't about to make any more pastry. I'd made 119 pies in all, and though I'd lost 12 in shattering them in and around my oven, I still had more than enough for my purposes.

Now I just have to make sure I don't go from "who made all the pies?" to "who ate all the pies?"


  1. Champion!!
    I just wish I were there to "help out" with all those pies... but I'm sure you have an office full of eager takers :) haha
    Looks good!! Don't you hate it when you drop stuff though! I find rice one of the more annoying things to splatter everywhere, since it's too "grippy" to sweep or wipe up, which means picking up each individual grain :( grrr,,, yes, it happens to me too :)

  2. I've never had the misfortune to drop large quantities of rice, but I can see how that would suck to clean up!


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