Festive Mince Pies

I am feeling very festive today as I have just made a load of mince pies. This is my favourite recipe at the moment. The crumble topping makes them just delicious and they are so easy and quik to throw together. Give them a try….


Makes approx.12
approx. 375g shortcrust pastry
250g good quality mincemeat
50g plain flour
4 tbsp demerara sugar
40g butter
finely grated zest of ½ orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon

you will also need 1 or 2 x 12 hole patty tins.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC fan oven/gas 6.

Thinly roll out the pastry and using a 7.5-9cm pastry cutter, cut out as many disks as you can, re-rolling the trimmings as you go. Press the disks into the holes of one or two 12 hole patty tins.

Spoon a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat into each pastry case and set aside.

To make the crumble topping, rub together the flour, demerara sugar, butter, orange zest and cinnamon until you have a chunky crumble mixture.  Scatter over the top of the mincemeat and place in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the mince pies are golden and the tops are crisp.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before taking out of the tins. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to serve.


For those who aren’t lovers of mincemeat, a delicious alternative is to replace it with some apple pie filling, and make as above with the crumble topping.

Michael Ball Show Cornish Pasty

I’ve been having great fun recently filming cookery sections on the new Michael Ball Show. It’s on at 3pm weekdays on ITV 1 and full of entertainment, chat, music and of course a little bit of cooking. Today I met Penny Smith (GMTV fame), Brian Conley (mr funny man) and a very talented West end star, Kerry Ellis who was accompanied by a rock legend…Brian May. He was amazing.

As for the cooking  – I was briefed by the production team to cook something for a group of ladies called the Red Wheelies. They are all sufferers of MS and have created their own formation display team on mobility scooters. Great fun ladies with a sense of humour and doing a brilliant job at raising awareness of multiple sclerosis in a positive light.

I decided it would be fun to make some Cornish Pasties due to their practicality to eat when on the move and of course their delicious flavour.

Here’s the recipe for you to try. I will post previous recipes from the show over the next few blogs, and I will also post the next few recipes from the show after I have done them (due to be Monday 6th Sept and Wednesday 8th Sept).


For the pastry

400g plain flour

100g butter, chilled and cubed

100g lard, chilled and cubed

cold water to mix

Beaten egg, to glaze

For the filling

1 medium-large potato, about 175g, peeled weight

175g swede, peeled weight

400g braising steak, cut into small pieces (0.5-1cm big)

1 large onion, finely chopped

Freshly ground white pepper

25g butter


Make the pastry first. Season the flour and sift into a large bowl. Add the butter and lard and rub them into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with 6-7 tablespoons of chilled water (enough to just bind the dough) and draw the mixture together with a round-bladed knife.

Turn onto a floured work surface and knead gently to bring together then wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/200C fan ovens/gas 7.

To make the filling, slice potato and swede into thin, small pieces about 1-2cm across.

Dust the work surface with flour. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a small plate cut out four circles (around 15cm diameter). Moisten the edge with milk or water and support half of the pastry nearest to you over the rolling pin. On the other half, put a small layer of prepared vegetables then a layer of beef, seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper as you go. Repeat this once but be careful not to have too much filling as this will cause the pastry to burst during the cooking process.

Add a small knob of the butter and sprinkle a dusting of flour over the filling which will helps to make a gravy. Fold the other half of pastry that has been resting on the rolling pin over the filling and squeeze the half circle edges firmly together. Starting at the right side whilst supporting the left side with other hand, using first finger and thumb turn the edge over to form a crimp. Repeat this process all along the edge making sure you get a good seal.

Brush pasty with beaten egg wash and put a 1-2cm cut in the centre of the top to allow steam to escape. Sit on a baking tray and place in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan ovens/gas 4 or a further 45 minutes. If they are browning too quickly cover loosely with greased paper.

Cool slightly before eating.

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