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Christmas Special - Mincemeat

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My mother in law makes the best mince pies, they are these tiny buttery shells filled with juicy, boozy fruit always topped with a small pasty star. The pastry is wonderful and short, but it’s the mincemeat that really makes it. 

I don’t think I will ever be able to replicate her recipe, so the best I can do it to go to good old favorites – Delia and Mary Berry and create my own recipe, my own special recipe that I can pass onto my children. 

Christmas Mince 
Makes 3x0.3l jars 

200g (1 large) bramley apple 
225g raising 
225g currants 
225g sultanas 
130g mixed candied peel, chopped 
225g brown sugar 
50g toasted almond flakes 
3 heaped tsp mixed spice 
½ tsp nutmeg 
1 lemon, juice only 
1 orange, juice only 
150g shredded suet 
50g butter 
2 bay leaves 
250ml brandy 

Core the apple (don’t worry about peeling) and chop into small, fingernail size pieces. Place the apple and the rest of the ingredients – apart from brandy – in a heat proof bowl and stir everything together until everything is well combi…

Christmas special - Cake

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Did you know its only 38 days before Christmas? Its definitely beginning to feel colder and wintery and we might even get snow this Christmas! To be fair, I am hoping for snow every year, and so far I have only seen a white Christmas once in all my years of living in London. 

I love Christmas, I really do, and I love all the traditions and foods that come with it, and no Christmas is complete in our house without a Christmas cake. Now, this is a rather new tradition in our house, I’ve only been making a Christmas cake for the last five years or so. I am not a big fan Christmas cakes (or any fruit cake to be honest) that you buy in the shops. They are too sweet, too sticky, too artificial for my taste, I can taste the sugar grains and preservatives on my teeth. Which is why I decided to try making Christmas cakes at the first place – to see if the real deal is going to be any better, or maybe I am just not a Christmas cake person. 

Well, turns out I am a Christmas cake person, I am a…

Focaccia Baking with WI Ladies

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A few weeks back I was approached by a member of local WI group asking to come to one of their meeting and give a lesson in bread making. Obviously I jumped at the chance and said Yes, but deep inside I was very nervous – come on, it’s the WI ladies, they are the queens of baking and jams and thing (I promise I won’t mention the Jerusalem :) 

To add to the challenge, the class was set up in a pub, with no access to a lot of work bench space or ovens, expecting 20 to 30 members ! What the hell, I love a challenge. I decided to start with two reasonably easy recipes, that are very forgiving in terms on mixing and proving time – a soft focaccia and a milky white loaf. 

Ingredients bought, 10kg of dough pre-made, I was ready to roll ! The evening turned out to be a lot of fun – great to see such a range of personalities and ages, wine glasses in hand, chattering, flour flying everywhere :) I was an amazing experience for me, and I think they have enjoyed it too. 

Focaccia 

500 gstrong whit…