Some like it hot and spicy – the ultimate Anglo-German Christmas treat

 

ENGLISH MINCE PIES AND GERMAN MULLED WINE

 

MINCE PIES

Being a lawyer, my (German) father is by nature a deeply inquisitive soul, especially when it comes to linguistic enigmas. A character that has undoubtedly intensified with age. A recent example of this is his questioning the flagrant incongruity inherent in the word combination “mince pies” – for there very obviously is not one iota of meat to be found! You certainly don’t get what you bargained for. Equally inquisitive by nature, this certainly sparked my curiosity, and so I decided to dig a bit deeper.

The clever bit

For those of you blissfully unaware of what mince pies actually are: it is a sweet pie with a buttery crust originally from Britain, containing a mixture of dried fruit and spices. Said pies are traditionally served during the Christmas season throughout the English-speaking world.

Mince pies can be traced right back to the Crusaders in the 12th century, who returned to Europe from the Middle East with typical regional recipes, containing meats, fruits and fragrant spices. Mince pies were at the time a preserve of the wealthy and used to be a mixture of minced meat, suet as well as a range of fruits and spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Pie crusts were then known as “coffins” and used as a vessel to cook or house pre-boiled meat fillings; the crusts made out of flour with water were generally tossed aside, once the contents of the pie had been eaten. Further more, the mince pies were often baked in rectangular shapes to represent the manger of baby Jesus.

It would be a while yet, however, before mince pies would actually be labelled as such. While they were known as shrid pie in Tudor England (15th century), containing a mixture of shredded meat, suet, dried fruit and spices, they were called “minched/mutton pies in the 16th century.
Fun fact: even Tudor king Henry VIII had a soft spot for shrid pies – when he wasn’t beheading his wives, that is. In the course of the 17th century, as the English Civil War ravaged the country, the ” Christmas pie”, its official term at the time, was actually banned, as were many other Catholic customs.
Puritans were strongly opposed to Christmas Pie due to its association with all things Catholic. On any count, by the end of the 17th century, pies were completely round in shape.

(Christmas Pie, William Henry Hunt)

 

By the mid-Victorian period/late 19th century, meat fillings were less common – Mrs. Beeton’s selection of mince pie recipes in her legendary “Household Management” manual, pays testimony to this, for only ONE recipe actually commands the use of meat in them. Nowadays, beef suet is in fact the only ingredient left hinting at the pies’ meaty cousins.

But I won’t torture you any more than necessary with dry historical facts, with many of you probably stifling a yawn by now (if you’ve read this far).

Et voilà, the recipe for the most christmassy of all English Christmas treats – I have combined two recipes from Britain’s foremost domestic goddesses, Delia Smith’s surprisingly easy take on mincemeat (the fruit filling) and Nigella Lawson’s pastry recipe. Enjoy!

Home-made Christmas mincemeat (yields 700g of mincemeat which can be preserved in sterilised jars)

Ingredients:

112g Bramley apples, cored and chopped small
13 whole almonds, cut into slivers
1 tsp mixed ground spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp brandy
60g shredded suet
100g raisins
60g sultanas
60g currants
60g whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
100g soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice of 1/2 orange
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
How to do it

Combine all ingredients, except brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring and mixing them together very thoroughly
Cover bowl with clean cloth and leave mixture for 12 hours in a cool place
Pre-heat oven to 110 C
Cover bowl loosely with foil and place in oven for 3 hours.
Afterwards, as mixture cools outside oven, stir it from time to time
When mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding brandy slowly.
Pack in sterilised jars.
(Source: Delia’s Christmas Easy Magazine 2003)

Pastry (yields 36 tarts, you’ll also need a tray of miniature tart tins, each indent 4.5cm in diameter)

Ingredients

240g plain flour
60g vegetable shortening
60g cold butter
Juice of 1 orange
1 pinch of salt
350g mincemeat
Icing sugar
How to do it:

– Flour into shallow bowl

– dollop little mounts of vegetable shortening into bowl

– add diced butter

– put mixture into freezer for 20 minutes for tender & flaky pastry

– mix together orange juice & salt in separate small bowl, cover and leave in fridge to chill

– empty mix of flour and fat into food processor until it’s a pale pile of porridge-like crumbs

-pour salted juice down funnel, it shouldn’t cohere with dough

– combine mixture to a dough, form into 3 discs. Wrap in clingfilm & let rest for 20 minutes.

– pre-heat oven to 220 C.

– roll out discs as thinly yet sturdy as possible.

– cut out circles a little wider than indentations in tart tins, using a cookie cutter. Press circles gently into moulds and dollop in scant tsp of mincemeat.

– put in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them.

– Dust over icing sugar using a tea strainer.

 

(Source: Nigella Christmas, 2008)

 

GLÜHWEIN

Ich hab’s eigentlich nicht so mit Rotwein. Auch die Tatsache, dass ich einen Großteil meiner Jugend in Frankreich verbracht habe, konnte daran nicht rütteln.
Ich kann noch nicht mal an einem Glas Rotwein riechen, ohne dass dieser olfaktorische Scheingenuss akuten Brechreiz bei mir auslöst. Ich weiß, das grenzt schon fast an Blasphemie.

Eine Ausnahme allerdings bildet Glühwein – und jaaaa, Glühwein kommt ohne jedweden Zweifel aus Deutschland.
Weder die Schweizer, noch die Schweden, noch sonst ein skandinavisches, den winterlichen Trinkfreuden zugeneigtes Völkchen haben’s erfunden – die Deutschen haben tatsächlich diesen vorweihnachtlichen Zaubertrank aus der Taufe gehoben.
Und erfunden im einzelnen hat’s ein gewisser Raugraf August Josef Ludwig von Wackerbarth (1770-1850) aus Sachsen – das Weingut Wackerbarth existiert auch noch heute. Das aus seiner Feder stammende Rezept ist aus dem Jahre 1843 und ist das wohl älteste überlieferte europäische Glühweinrezept; damals firmierte es noch unter dem wohlklingenden Namen “Würzwein”.

(Quelle: livingathome.de)

Wenngleich man gewürzten Wein auch bereits im Schweden des 16. Jahrhunderts trank – heutzutage auch unter dem Namen “Glögg” bekannt – so sind sich Forscher uneins, ob dieser auch damals tatsächlich erhitzt getrunken wurde. Unstrittig ist laut Ernst Büscher (Deutsches Weininstitut Mainz) die Verbindung des Schweden-Königs Gustav Wasa nach Sachsen durch seine Heirat mit Katharina von Sachsen-Lauenburg am 24. September 1531; die Verdacht liegt nahe, dass er hierdurch alsbald die Bekanntschaft mit dem beliebten Heißgetränk machte.

Aber genug der Theorie, Zeit für die Praxis! Die Glühwein-Edelvariante von “Essen & Trinken”, für 8 Portionen – nach Gusto beliebig vervielfachen 🙂

ZUTATEN

– 8 Kardamomkapseln

– 10 Nelken

– 10 Pimentkörner

– 4 Kapseln Sternanis

– 1 Stange Zimt

– 1 Tl Koriandersaat

– 1 Tl Anissaat

– l trockener Rotwein

– 1 unbehandelte Orange

– Zucker

ZUBEREITUNG

Kardamomkapseln mit der breiten Seite eines großen Messers aufdrücken. Kardamom, Nelken, Piment, Sternanis, Zimtstange, Koriander und Anissaat in einen Teebeutel geben und zubinden.
Rotwein und 500 ml Wasser mit dem Teebeutel zugedeckt aufkochen. Inzwischen die Orange heiß waschen, trocknen und in 1/2-1 cm dicke Scheiben schneiden. Zum Wein geben und zugedeckt bei milder Hitze 15 Min. ziehen lassen.
Teebeutel über dem Wein ausdrücken und entfernen. Den Glühwein mit Zucker abschmecken.

 

 

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