Gluten Free Mince Pies with Damson and Cobnut

By Victoria Glass •


Gluten-free needn’t mean fun-free this Christmas. Victoria Glass shows us how there’s no reason to miss out on any of the festive classics just because wheat’s off your menu.

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Ho ho ho, it's gluten-free we go...

Washed down with a steaming mug of mulled wine, these light and crumbly damson and cobnut mince pies have Christmas all wrapped up. 
 
If you’re catering for gluten dodgers over the holidays, you’ll be pleased to discover that these are simple and quick to make and just as tasty as their wheaty counterparts. My gluten-scoffing friend couldn’t tell the difference when she came over for three the other day, but you can always stick to wheat with my recipe here, if you’d prefer.
 
Sweet gluten-free shortcrust is perfect for baking with children, as it has the added bonus of being impossible to overwork. However many times your little darlings scrunch up and re-roll this dough, you’ll never have to suffer another tough or chewy pie again – that’s a little extra Christmas present from me to you, right there.
 
I made my own damson and cobnut mincemeat last year and still have plenty left, but you’ll have a job finding damsons in December. Try swapping the damsons for plums and the cobnuts for hazelnuts, for delicious and more easily sourced alternatives. If making mincemeat’s not at the top of your festive agenda, by all means buy some in. Just remember, before serving it to any coeliac friends, to check the ingredients. Most mincemeat is made with suet, which has been stored dusted in wheat flour. My mincemeat is also suet-free, but you can buy gluten-free vegetarian suet here if you want to adapt your own recipe.
 
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Damson and cobnut mincemeat
 
425ml apple juice or cider
425g light muscovado sugar
425g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
425g currants
425g raisins
300g damsons (or plums)
200g fresh cobnuts roughly chopped (you can use hazelnuts instead)
Grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
250ml brandy
 
Put the apple and sugar into a large pan and heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, minus the brandy. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to become completely cold. Stir in the brandy or rum and spoon into cold, sterilised jars. Cover with waxed discs and tight fitting lids.
 
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Gluten-free sweet shortcrust 
 
Makes 12 deep filled pies with lids.
 
300g rice flour
150g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
The finely grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
1 egg, beaten
A splash of milk if needed
 
It’s easiest to blitz the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, before pulsing in the remaining ingredients. You want the dough to be soft but not sticky. If you’re doing it by hand, simply rub the flour and fat together before adding the sugar and forking through the egg before kneading it together gently to form a ball. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes. 
 
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and butter a 12 hole muffin tray.
 
Roll out the pastry between two sheets of cling film - this is the best way I’ve found for rolling all shortcrust (including wheat), as it doesn’t require any extra flour and keeps the pastry from falling apart. Cut out rounds and line the tray. You can easily patch up any cracks or holes with extra pastry. Fill the pies with mincemeat and top with pastry lids lightly brushed with a little milk. Prick the tops with a fork and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before turning out.
 
For more Christmas recipes visit Great British Chefs seasonal collection. Let us know if you are making your own mincemeat for pies this Christmas or if you have any additional ingredients you add to shop bought mincemeat to make it extra tasty.  We'd love to hear over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.

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Victoria Glass

Victoria is a London based food writer. She founded Victoria's Cake Boutique in 2008 & her first two books, Boutique Wedding Cakes and Deliciously Vintage are out now. Her celebrity clients include Miranda Hart, Dave Gorman and Zach Braff. She's cooked her way through the alphabet from artichokes to za'atar zebra on her blog, Alphabet Soup. She is currently writing her fourth book and her third is out in September. She has just been appointed the food writer in residence at The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre.

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