For the mincemeat: homemade is SO much better than shop-bought!
450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
225g shredded suet ( I used beef suet but you could use vegetarian)
225g mixed peel
350g dark soft brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
50g whole almonds, cut into slivers (or use flaked almonds)
4tsp ground mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg, grated ( I used 1tsp ground nutmeg)
6tbsp brandy ( I use one small wine glass full as I like it to have a bit of a kick!)
For the mince pies: (makes 12)
The recipe can be easily doubled for more mince pies!
1 jar homemade mincemeat
1 dessert spoon of syrup from a jar of stem ginger
2 small pieces stem ginger
225g plain flour
50g soft brown sugar
1tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
110g soft salted butter
Few drops cold water
Splash of milk
1tbsp demerara sugar
Mincemeat is so easy- once you've made it once, you'll never revert back to shop-bought! Just put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl along with the brandy and stir thoroughly. Delia suggests putting all the ingredients apart from the brandy into the bowl and leaving it over night before adding the brandy but if you don't have time then it's fine to do it all at once! (Delia puts her bowl of mincemeat, covered with tin foil into an oven at 120 degrees C for 3 hours to slowly melt the suet and then cools it completely before adding the brandy. I've never done this stage before but you could do if you wanted to.)
Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and everything is coated in the delicious zesty sugary brandy mixture, decant it into sterilised jars and seal. Mincemeat will keep for ages sealed in jars- the longer it's left to mature the better so I start my batches of mince pies with the left over mincemeat from last year.
To make the mincemeat for these gingerbread spiced mince pies, empty one jar of mincemeat into a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly to distribute the liquid again. Add in the stem ginger syrup and the pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped.
Then, make your pastry. Add the flour, sugar, spices and butter to a large mixing bowl and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
Then add a few drops of cold water and mix with your hands until the dough starts to come together. Gradually add a little more water until you have a ball of dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
At this stage, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (fan). Once the pastry has been chilled, remove it from the fridge and place onto a lightly-floured work surface.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it is about the thickness of a one pound coin. Grease a small tart tin with soft butter and then choose a circular cutter that is just a bit bigger than the tart mould.
Using the cutter, cut out 12 round circles for the base of the mince pies and 12 stars as tops. You may need to re-roll the pastry once or twice. Gently ease each pasty circle into the tart mould and then crimp the edges with your fingertips. Fill the pastry cases with the mincemeat and then top with a pastry star.
Once you have assembled all the mince pies, whisk together the egg and milk in a small jug and using a pastry brush, brush the tops and edges of the mince pies with the egg wash.
Then sprinkle a little demerara sugar over each mince pie and bake in the preheat oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and the pastry is crisp. Ease a mince pie from the tin and turn it over to check that the base of the mince pie is cooked.
Remove them from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack. However, these are definitely best eaten warm with a big dollop of brandy butter or some icing sugar sifted over the top.