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The lads at Crossfit Ireland put in a request for Gluten free mince pies yesterday. There are loads of people intolerant of gluten, many of them don’t even know and wonder why they don’t feel good, lack energy, bloat and feel unwell after eating and generally aren’t at their best every day. My husband completely avoids it, me I’m not quite so strict and must admit that the odd slice of bread or 2 does get eaten with a strong Americano in the morning. I’m not advocating it, just being honest!. I do like to experiment with recipes to see which work in a gluten free mode. Baking is quite technical and you can’t automatically substitute gluten free flour but in the case of pastry it works pretty well. I decided to home make the Christmas mince meat too as most of the jars in the shops just don’t do it for me. If you don’t have time for this and are using a shop bought jar then a good idea to jazz it up is to tip it into a pot, add some grated cooking apple and heat gently to cook through. Add a few glugs of brandy and you will have a much improved mince to work with.I sent up a tin of pies this afternoon to the lads in Crossfit Ireland and the tin came back empty about an hour later so by all accounts they were very nice!

Pastry
9 oz gluten free flour – I used a product from Marks and Spencers.
5 ½ oz butter from fridge
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp icing sugar
Approx 3-5 tbsp ice water

Tip the flour and icing sugar into food processor
Chop butter into cubes and tip in to processor
Process on pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs
With the motor running add the egg yolk and half of the water.
Process until the pastry comes together.
If you need to add more water then do so as dry pastry will be impossible to work with. With pastry the water amount in the recipe is always an estimate as so much depends on the flour type, the heat of your kitchen etc. Your pastry should come together into a ball.
Tip the pastry out onto the counter and gently knead into a ball. Flatten slightly and wrap in cling and into the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using. The trick with pastry is keep it cool. If it gets to warm and the butter starts to melt, get it back into the fridge to chill again. The pastry made 24 pies (I kept some at home!) as well as a few small cut outs for Eva

Christmas Mince Meat
16 oz mixed fruit. I used prunes, raisins, sultanas, currants, cranberries .
2 fl oz brandy
2 fl oz ruby port
2 oz dark brown sugar
1 tsp each of cinnamon and ginger
Juice and zest of a clementine
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pour port and sugar into big pot and heat gently until sugar dissolves
Tip in the fruit, zest and juice of the clementine, spices and cook on a gently simmer for about 20 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed and the fruit has softened.
Add the brandy and the vanilla and stir and mash well with a wooden spoon. I fished out the zest as it was in long strips.
When the mixture has cooled, tip into your jars or use for mince pies. This amount made 2 medium jars.

Shaping the pies
Cut round circles to fit your mince pie pan. Spoon in the cooled mince meat. Cut out shapes for the top – I used circles and hearts… just for the boys!. I brushed the top with beaten egg to seal and also over the top for a lovely golden glaze. For the sealed tops, I put a little incision to allow the air to escape.
Cook at 180 deg C for about 15 minutes.