It’s the beginning of December, and for me, that means time to start preparing all the little things that make our Christmas special. The plum puddings I’d already made in August. I have never done before, but I’m glad I did as it’s becoming hotter here, and as they take several hours of simmering on the stove, the kitchen becomes very hot and steamy; not something that makes me happy when it is 30C outside. Next are the mince tarts, which we all love. Tiny little morsels with the most exquisite pastry you have ever eaten, and a little spoonful of sweet fruit mince. These are only two mouthfuls, tiny and delicate, and as there is only a teaspoon of the fruit mince in the tart, I buy a good quality one. But, the pastry I always make. Now, I came across this recipe many years ago in Bon Appétit and it is a recipe of Simone Beck’s. It’s not difficult to make, but must be used cold, as it softens very quickly. I always reroll the scraps, never had any problems there, and it is as its name suggests, sublime. Another bonus is, these freeze very well. So, I’ve picked a cooler day to bake them, usually about 100 or so, and then they will go into the freezer. When we want to eat them, I just thaw and refresh them gently in a low oven. Then just dust with a gentle snow of icing sugar – so pretty; and good luck trying to stop at one.
Pâte Sublime (sweet pastry)
- This is enough for about 50 5-6cm tarts, and you will need 400g-420g fruit mince.
- 2 cups (260g) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 1tsp baking powder
- 10tbsp (140g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 6tbsp pouring cream, beaten with one egg yolk.
Place flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor and blend for 2-3 seconds. Add butter, and process for 8-10 seconds until blended. Add the beaten egg and cream mix slowly through the feeding tube until the mix forms a damp ball. This will only take a few seconds, don’t over process! Remove from food processor, form into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before using. I usually leave it overnight.
Now, when you are ready to start baking, remove the pastry from the fridge, cut it in half, and roll out between baking paper to a thickness of about 1/3cm. (I just rushed to the freezer and measured the thickness, no need to be as pedantic as me).
Cut into circles the same size as the tart tins you are using, pop in a little fruit mince, and top with a pastry star. I am assuming that we all have star shaped cookie cutters, non? Put back in the fridge for 1/2 hour while you pre heat the oven to 170C, and then bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry is a pale golden colour. The smell is incredible!
Let cool on a wire rack, and if you can resist eating them straight away, they’ll freeze for up to 3 months.