It's Mince Pie Season, and Natanya is once again on the hunt for the best in Sydney.

The Annual Mince Pie Search

Even though my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas I have always loved the associated food – dark, fruity Christmas cake, rich and wonderfully alcoholic Christmas pudding and my all time favourite Fruit mince pies. With middle eastern origins, they started as a savory, small rectangular shaped pie made with a spiced mutton, fruit and suet filling.   From medieval times they were a popular feature at Christmas feasts in England, the rectangular shape being associated with the manger of Jesus. Later the shape changed and the meat was dropped.

Most of my circle are not fans of the mince pie. Sadly.

So a few years ago, when I discovered that a couple of close friends shared the same love, we started a yearly search for the best mince pie of the season. And we take this search very seriously. We eat as many pies as we can find, often delivering little packages to each other when we think we have found a winner and traveling way out of our way in search of the best combination of pastry and mince filling. I found last year’s winner in Melbourne at Burch and Purchese sweet studio. Next year I am seriously considering a trip to London to sample a pie from Gail’s Bakery, their Instagram picture is so tempting.

If you are looking for a legitimate excuse to eat at least a pie a day for the month, you can join our club next year. Here are our rules and judging criteria –

  • One can only start eating possible candidates from December 1 and game is over on Christmas Day.
  • The winning pie has to be tasted and agreed on by all those in the club.
  • A winner would have the best combo of crisp, buttery and ever so slightly sweetened pastry with a not too jammy, brandy plumped dried fruit filling.

This year the calories gained in the name of research will be worth the 7 day juice fast that will begin on December 26. Weeks ago, I made my own batch of fruit mince which was then sitting in my fridge, waiting for a humidity-free day to make pastry. I was excited that my pies, when made, would enter the competition.

Now, with only days to go before Christmas, I am almost at the point of not being able to look at another mince pie! Last week I tried to have a few days break so I could get a little excited about making my own. The problem was every time I left my house, I found another one to try. And when my fellow researchers dropped over a batch from Brickfields in Chippendale, you could pretty much tell just from looking at them that they would be very hard to beat. 

I finally (after years of procrastinating) baked my own mince pies. After looking at loads of different recipes, I decided to use the  dough from Lorraine Godsmark’s magnificent sugared Rhubarb pie.

So here’s what I think (in no particular order). I’d love to hear from you if you agree or if you disagree…nothing quite like a fiesty mince pie debate to get the appetite going.

Phillipa’s Bakery – a pretty good pie. Beautiful crumbly short pastry but the filling is too jammy for my taste. These are Lisa’s favourites although she thinks they could’ve doubled the filling in each pie. A little scant for her liking!

Cook and Baker – for me the best filling of all. Yum! A variety of dried fruit , nicely spiced and not too jammy. Also nice pastry, just a bit too cakey (if I’m being picky).

Flour & Stone – beautiful filling but pastry too flaky for my taste. I really do prefer a shorter pastry in a pie.

Brickfields – my favourite this year. The right pastry, fabulous filling, best combo of both.

Katering – a really lovely pastry but I would have preferred a little more of the filling.

Black Star Pastry – the shortest and most delicious pastry of all but we all thought a bit dark and slightly overcooked. Outstanding filling with the perfect consistency.

Organic Republic bakery – one of the best pastries I tried, crisp, short and not too sweet but the filling was on the mushy side (I love to see the fruit!)

Bowen Island Bakery – lovely, rustic sugar-sprinkled pies with great flavour but I found the pastry a little too soft. Lisa, on the other hand, loved this one.

And a few more that I tried and will have to try again next year…Bake Bar, Luxe, Baker’s Delight, Wellington Cake Shop, French Twist in New Farm Brisbane, Simmone Logue and Bourke St Bakery. And a few more on my list that I just didn’t get to, like Lorraine’s Patisserie and Brasserie Bread.

And these are mine. They look extremely rustic.  But even though they don’t win on looks, I am quite impressed with how they taste. And they will be my favourite next year when my mince-pie-skills have time to be honed. And maybe they will be my number one!

 

 


 

 

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Now for Something Sweet

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Happy not-quite-a-long-weekend-but-with-long-weekend-feels everyone! And what a blessing that the sun is shining. We hope to see lots of pics of BBQs and lamingtons. When inspiration grabs you and you find yourself in a baking mood, here is our delicious lamington recipe, there's still time to whip up a batch. What's cooking at your place this weekend? (And we are indebted to Railea Don for this wonderful iconic recipe ❤️}

Ingredients
Cake
125 grams butter (unsalted)
185 grams Caster (Superfine) Sugar
2 eggs
250 grams Self-Raising (Self-Rising) flour (1 2/3 cups)
1/2 cup milk or fresh orange juice
Icing
500 grams icing (confectioners) sugar
3 tablespoons best quality cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
1 cup hot water
250 grams shredded or desiccated coconut

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 28 x 19 x 4 cm lamington tin.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Gradually add the flour, alternating with the milk or orange juice.

Mix together well, then pour the mixture evenly into the prepared tin.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.
Cut the cake into 4 cm squares, trimming the edges if necessary.

Mix the icing sugar and cocoa together in a bowl.

Put the butter into the hot water to melt, and mix into the icing sugar mixture until thick and smooth.

Drop the cake squares into the chocolate, ensuring the cake is fully covered, then remove very quickly. Drain the cake on a wire rack for a few seconds. Using a large cooking fork, roll in the coconut.
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#lamongtons #australiaday #australiaday2021 #australiansummer #dessert #desserts #chocolatedesserts #bakinginspo #cookinginspo #chocolate #chocolatelover
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You can now pre order our beautiful organic cotton aprons via our website for dispatch mid Feb. We sold out of our first run in December and we'd love to order some more for all of you who missed out.

They are comfortable, durable and highly functional (so many pockets!), the ultimate kitchen accessory which will allow you to be as messy as you want - in style! Manufactured ethically in Australia by @creamcollection_pro we can offer you 2 sizes - small (Merelyn, Natty wear) or regular (Lisa, Jaks wear) - so head to our website and order yours today! Just click the link in our bio.
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