Sunday, 25 November 2012

Stir up Sunday and mince pie recipe

Today is Stir up Sunday. In all honesty I had no idea there was a day called Stir up Sunday. So when Asda invited me to an event for the same, I was a bit confused. Thanks to Google, all my doubts were cleared and here's what Stir up Sunday is all about. Its the last Sunday before the season of Advent and its on this day that you prepare (stir-up) your Christmas puddings so that there is enough time for the flavours to develop. The whole family gets together and takes their turn at stirring the pud and while they are at it, each of them would make a secret wish. Also, the pudding is stirred from East to West in honour of the three wise men who visited Baby Jesus. I was thoroughly amused by these findings and it did make me look forward to the event.
Asda in collaboration with the Leiths School of Food and Wine invited some of us lucky food bloggers for some hands on experience with Christmas baking. The evening was so much fun, with the highlight being the fabulous spread from the Asda Extra Special Range. I was thoroughly amazed at how good they tasted and my personal favourite- the dim sum platter - was to die for. I cant wait for them to appear in the market so I can start gorging on them religiously. We socialised over mulled wine and champagne and then was given a brief by the talented chefs about Stir up Sunday and Christmas puddings after which we were all lead to the kitchen to do a blind tasting of three different Christmas puddings, all matured for different durations. We also got to taste the absolutely delicious Jewelled Yule Pudding which was moist and laden with fruit, nuts, brandy and spices...sooo very Christmassy. It was perhaps my favourite.
We then went on to try our hand at some baking. Started off with mince pies and although I'm paranoid when it comes to handling pastry, I somehow managed it and was not as intimidated as I thought. While the pastry was chilling in the fridge, we went about making our pudding mix. This was quite exciting for me, since it was my first experience and in spite of trying to concentrate really hard I kinda messed up a bit. I added the entire egg mix at one go instead of slowly adding and stirring, but thanks to a helpful Head Chef, I still managed to bring it all together after the soaked fruits were added. We transferred the mix into a pudding dish and did the ritual of covering it up (which I am pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do without some help). It has to be steamed for 10 to 12 hours (yes you heard it right) after which it can be stored in a cool dark place for as long as you want. So yes, now I have to get around to doing the steaming business if I want it ready for Christmas.
We also decorated some all butter Christmas tree cookies with orange chocolate and nuts. These, if tied with a string can be so adorable on Christmas trees. Sadly mine got over soon after i brought them home and so will have to do a fresh batch and resist the urge to eat them, if i have any plans of hanging it up on a tree:). While the goodies were being baked and set, we continued gorging on the yummy food and catching up with each other. It was such a fun night out, and we all got back home with bags full of goodies from the Asda Extra Special Range and enough Christmas puddings to last for a while :)

Star topped mince pies (recipe adapted from the Asda, in collaboration with the Leiths School of Food and Wine)
Shortcrust pastry
Plain flour- 170 gms
Salt- a pinch
Butter- 100 gms, unsalted
Caster sugar- 2 tbsp
Egg yolk- 1
Iced cold water- 2 tbsp

A jar of Asda Extra Special mince meat (refer notes)

Sift the flour with salt into a large bowl.
Rub in butter till the mix resembles bread crumbs
Add the sugar and mix through followed by the egg yolk and water.
Mix it all together to form a firm dough. May need a bit more water, but remember, a crumbly dough, although difficult to handle, will result in a shorter, lighter pastry, as opposed to a damn dough.
Divide your pastry into 2, approx. 2/3rd to 1/3rd.
Roll out the larger disc to a 3mm thickness and cut out 12 circles, a little wider than your pie tray hole.
press the circles into the  lightly buttered pie tray.
Roll out the smaller half of the pastry dough and cut out 12 stars. 
Transfer on to a baking tray and chill both trays in the refrigerator for about 20 to 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, pre heat the oven to 200C.
Place a spoon and a bit more of the mince meat filling into each pie shell ad top each of them with a star.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the pie from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
Just before serving dust with some icing sugar.
Notes: We were given two mince meat filling- one a whisky and orange and the other port and brandy. I did a half and half. 
Also, don't fill your pies with too much mince meat, they may bubble up when cooking and spill over, causing the pies to stick to the tray.

With thanks to Asda for having me over as a guest for the event


Happy Cook / Finla said...

Lucky you for getting chance for these events,we don't have anything like this for the bloggers, atleast were i live.
Last year i made star studded mince pies too. Yours look beautiful .

Isingcakes said...

Lucky you..that sounds like a fun evening Nisha:)

Shabs.. said...

Wow, what a spread...And about the stir up sunday, never heard about that as well!!good one.

Rumana Ambrin said...

Lucky you, delicious dishes..

suhaina aji said...

that looks yumm and hope u enjoyed the party..

Priya said...

Omg, Nisha wish i get chance like these. Those cute mince pies looks very attractive, seems you had loads of fun there.

Poornima Nair said...

Sounds like an awesome event and the pies look delicious. Had no idea about stir-up sunday, Am gonna give the fruit cake a miss this year!

divya said...

Mmmmm....very delicious

Rose /Magpie said...

osh SO adorable! both the pies and the tree cookies! looks like you definitely had a great time :) and I love that wire cake stand/rack will be keeping an eye out for something similar

Anonymous said...

Everything looks fab Nisha...thanks for the mince pie recipe - terrific :) Good info on Stir up Sunday :)

audreygeddes said...

This is so elegant yet simple. I cannot wait to try this! I have been getting myself ready for the holidays and also highly recommend Holly Clegg's trim&TERRIFIC KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence for convenient cooking of easy, healthy and delicious recipes.

Vineetha said...

Wow what a spread..i didn't know about the stir up Sunday too...i have only tried store bought Christmas pudding ,looking forward to buy one this year too.

Nagalakshmi V said...

what a spread! :)

Suja Manoj said...

Nice write up and a great to know about these event..delicious spread.

Carole said...

Hi there. The current Food on Friday is all about Christmas! It would be great if you linked in any Xmas favourites you have. This is the link . Have a good week.

Suchi said...

Wow you seem all set for Christmas! Last year I baked fruit cakes a month before, poured in generous portions of brandy and patiently matured them...but the wait was so worth it! I am sure this pud will taste divine on the D day!

Usual dose of drooling over your photos!

Cheers, Suchi