Recipe: Fresh mincemeat pie
Filled with fruits and spices, this English mincemeat pie is a twist on tradition. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus chilling time
Servings: 8 to 10
Note: This pastry dough is wonderfully pliable and easy to work, made by the French method of kneading on the countertop. For the filling you'll need seedless grapes and tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Braeburn, that hold their shape during cooking. To appreciate the full flavor of fruit and spice, serve the pie hot or at room temperature, topped with a scoop of your favorite ice cream -- butter pecan or vanilla for me. Traditional mincemeat is spiked with hard liquor; here I suggest bourbon, but orange juice is fine too, and child-friendly.
Light cream pastry dough
3 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup heavy cream, more if needed
1. Sift the flour into a mound on a work surface and make a wide well in the center. Pound the butter with a rolling pin to soften it. Add the butter to the well with the salt, egg yolk and cream. Work these ingredients with the fingertips of one hand until thoroughly mixed. Using a pastry scraper or metal spatula, draw in flour from the sides and work the dough with the fingers of both hands until coarse crumbs form; they should be soft but not sticky. If they seem dry, sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of cream and continue working to form a rough dough. Press the dough together to form 2 balls, one twice as large as the other.
2. On a lightly floured surface, quickly knead the dough. Take a ball of dough and push it away from you with the palm of your hand, flattening it on the work surface. Gather up the dough, and repeat the action two or three times -- this distributes butter in the flour so dough becomes smooth and pliable. Shape it into a ball and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Pie filling and assembly
2 tart apples
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) seedless green or red grapes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped candied orange peel
1/2 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup dark raisins
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon, or orange juice
2 tablespoons melted butter (for brushing)
11- to 12-inch tart pan with removable base
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Core, halve and dice the unpeeled apples into one-fourth-inch pieces. Toss the apples into a bowl with lemon zest and juice. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Add the grapes, candied orange peel, walnuts and dark and golden raisins and stir until the fruits are evenly mixed. Stir in the brown sugar, then the bourbon or orange juice.
2. Brush the tart pan with melted butter. Sprinkle your countertop with flour and roll the large ball of pastry dough to a 13- to 14-inch round. Line the tart pan with the dough, leaving about 1-inch overlap of dough at the rim. Spoon the mincemeat filling into the shell and gently flatten the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Roll out remaining dough to fit the top of the pie, with about 1-inch overhang, and lift it onto the pie with the rolling pin to cover the mincemeat. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors and pinch with your fingertips to seal and make a fluted edge.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and salt to form a wash. Brush the surface of the pie with wash. With the tip of a knife, slash the dough in a decorative pattern so steam can escape. If you like, decorate the top with leaves made from dough trimmings, brushing them with glaze. Chill the pie thoroughly 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, and put a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to heat. Brush the chilled pie again with glaze. Set the pie on the hot baking sheet and bake until browned and the pie starts shrinking from the side of the pan, 40 to 50 minutes. A skewer inserted in pie center should be very hot to the touch when withdrawn. (The pie can be baked a day ahead; wrap it tightly in foil and refrigerate.)
5. To reheat, place the pie in a 300-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let it cool slightly, then unmold onto a platter.
Each of 10 servings: 573 calories; 7 grams protein; 76 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 27 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 106 mg. cholesterol; 323 mg. sodium.