There’s nothing quite like the smell of warm mince pies to get you into the festive spirit. West Berkshire’s Kate Saunders of Blackberry Cottage shares her special recipe for Sweet Potato Mince pies from her new recipe book Blackberry Cottage: Cakes with Secret Ingredients from Aubergine to Zucchini Even if you think you don’t like vegetables, you’ll find that including them in a cake recipe actually improves the texture, moistness or appearance.
Short Crust Pastry
120g sweet potato
250g plain flour
100g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
20g caster sugar
Peel and steam the sweet potato, then puree it with a food processor or hand blender until it’s nice and smooth (it’s a good idea to do this the day before and keep it in the fridge so it’s cold – it makes it easier to use and gives better results this way).
In a food processor, add the sweet potato puree, butter, flour and sugar, then pulse until it looks like crumbs. You can do this by hand, rubbing the ingredients together with your fingertips, but it can take a while and your hands need to be cold.
Tip the crumbs onto your work surface, then use palms of your hands to press the mix until it forms a firm ball of dough, handling the pastry as little as possible. Now just wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge for an hour.
50g dark brown sugar
80g vegetable suet
1 tsp mixed spice
1 unwaxed orange – juice & zest
Wash and peel both the carrot and apple, then finely grate the carrot, and coarsely grate the apple.
In a separate bowl, mix all of the dried ingredients. Now add the sugar, suet and spice, and mix well. Finally, add the orange juice and zest, Cointreau and grated carrot and apple. Combine altogether until thoroughly mixed.
Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool dry place for at least 24 hours. Ready to use or to keep spoon into clean sterilised jars, packing the mix down with the back of a teaspoon.
This will keep for up to 6 months in a cool dry place, such as a pantry, larder, or even under the stairs.
Makes 24 pies
1 batch sweet potato pastry
1 batch mincemeat
2 tbsp milk
flour to dust the board
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Lightly grease, with a little butter, a 12 hole tart tin.
Cookie cutter to match the size of your tart tin, 8cm is fairly typical.
Make the short crust pastry in readiness, and chill in the fridge until needed. Make the mincemeat with carrot, this can be made in advance.
Dust your work surface with a little flour, unwrap and roll out the chilled pastry so it’s no more than 0.5cm thick. Using a round cutter, cut out 12 circles big enough to line the holes of the tin, then cut out 12 lids, you might want to use a smaller cutter for this.
Place 1-2 teaspoons of mincemeat into each of pastry case. Place the lids on top and press down lightly around the edge. Brush the top with some milk, then make a couple of small holes in each lid for any steam to escape.
Pop into the middle of the preheated oven to bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack a few mins, while still in the tin, then carefully transfer your pies to a wire rack to finish cooling.