I’m a big fan of Christmas and all the traditions associated with the festive season – whether they be those embraced by the wider population or just by my quirky little family!
As a child, I remember the kitchen transforming into a hive of activity as soon as December began, with my mum churning out baking tray upon baking tray of homemade mince pies and sausage rolls. As soon as Christmas is spotted on the horizon, I now find myself doing the same and it’s usually not long until I find myself immersed in a magical cloud of flour and icing sugar. Work has been keeping me busy this December, however, and by the time I finally managed to escape to the office I had already had my fill of mince pies (and obligatory mugs of mulled wine). So this year, I decided to do something a little different with the jars of mincemeat stockpiled within my cupboards and as a result the mincemeat, almond and vanilla Danish pastry was born! This recipe does require a little bit of effort but munching on the results certainly got me as much into the Christmas spirit as scoffing on endless mince pies used to. You will need:
FOR THE PASTRY
7g fast-action yeast
15g caster sugar
150ml full fat milk (warmed to approx. 30°C….a brief zap in the microwave will do the job)
1 egg, beaten
300g plain flour
FOR THE FILLING
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
25g plain flour
15g corn flour
1 vanilla pod (split down the middle)
350ml full-fat milk
1 x 300g jar of mincemeat
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
1 tablespoon water
The pastry is best if made the day before constructing the Danish pastries.
Start by mixing the yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk together. Set aside for a few minutes until a froth begins to form on top of the mixture. Then add the rest of the milk and the egg to the mixture and beat until combined.
Sift the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually work the ingredients together (it’s best to get stuck in with your hands here) until a soft dough is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. Then roll out into a large rectangle (approx. 2cm thick) and put small knobs of the butter on 2/3 of the surface. Fold the butter free third of the dough over the middle and then fold the remaining third over to form a smaller rectangle. Wrap the dough in cling film and transfer to the fridge for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface roll out the dough to a rectangle, again about 2cm thick. Then as before (although without the addition of butter this time) fold a third of the pastry into the centre and then the remaining third over the top. Re-wrap in cling film and return to the fridge.
Repeat this rolling, folding and chilling process twice more and then wrap in cling film again and place the dough in the fridge overnight.
The vanilla crème patissiere can also be made the day before required.
Add the egg yolks, sugar and flour to a bowl and whisk until a smooth paste is formed.
Add the vanilla pod and milk to a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. As soon as the milk begins to boil remove from the heat and pour the milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously as you do so to prevent lumps forming.
Transfer the mixture to the saucepan and continue to stir over a medium heat until it begins to bubble and thicken (don’t panic if it appears a little bit grainy at first, as long as you don’t stop stirring you should end up with a smooth end product!). Continue to cook (and stir) for another couple of minutes once it has begun to bubble and then remove from the heat.
Transfer to a storage container. Rub a small knob of butter over the top of the crème patisserie and then cover in cling film (this prevents a skin from forming on top) and then keep in the fridge until needed.
The next day pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Roll out the pastry to a rectangle (again about 2cm thick) and spread the crème patissiere on top. Sprinkle over the ground almonds before topping with the mincemeat, ensuring it is evenly spread across all of the dough.
Roll the dough up from the longest edge to form a large sausage shape. Then use a sharp knife to slice into rounds (about 1.5 to 2cm thick). Transfer the rounds to a baking tray lined with greaseproof baking parchment.
Brush each round with a little milk before baking in the oven for 20-2 5minutes until risen and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before decorating with zig-zags of glace icing (which is made by mixing the icing sugar and water together to form a smooth paste).
The Danish pastry recipe used here was adapted from an original recipe by Delicious Magazine.
The crème patissiere recipe used was adapted from an original recipe by Good Food Channel.
Julia Calderwood is taking a break from the kitchen and her seaside workplace in Northern Ireland to enjoy a family Christmas in Kent but will be back in the New Year with some more seasonal recipes (and for some really fantastic gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and other recipes with a ‘missing ingredient’, you can continue to follow her at http://sthingmissing.blogspot.co.uk/)