I adore Eccles cakes and I absolutely love mince pies, so for me these are the best Christmas treat ever!! You could use shop bought pastry but I have to say, it's really worth going the extra mile and making your own for these because the rewards are worth the extra bit of effort.
300g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
A pinch of sea salt
250g unsalted butter, very chilled (I keep a block in the freezer)
1 jar of mincemeat (about 250g)
20g brown sugar
20g caster sugar
50g candied peel paste (see Bits & Bobs)
You will also need a baking tray lined with baking parchment and a 12.5cm (5 inch) round cutter or 21/2 inch one.
Tip the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Roughly grate the butter (and/or lard) into the flour, holding the butter in its packet and pulling it down as you go (otherwise it will melt). Using a palette or table knife, flick the flour over the grated fat until all of the pieces are covered. Add enough water to bring the dough together using the knife.
Turn the dough out on to a floured worksurface and bring together quickly using your hands. Flatten into a rectangle, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured worksurface, roll the dough out into a rectangle. With one of the shorter sides of the rectangle nearest to you, fold the top third down into the middle and the bottom third up over this. You should now have a square measuring 1/3 of the original size but three times as thick. Make a small mark in the dough to indicate which side is top of the dough square. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for another 30 minutes. Repeat this process twice more before using the pastry.
Melt together the butter and sugars in a pan over a low heat, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Tip the peel paste and mincemeat into a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut out 15 discs. or 24 small ones Cut the discs close together to minimise waste as you can’t re-roll rough puff pastry.
Divide the cooled fruit mix between the discs and pull the pastry up around the filling and pinch to seal. Turn them over, so the pinched seal is hidden, place on the prepared baking tray and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.
With a holly leaf cutter cut out 15/24 holly leaves or stars from the scraps of pastry, With a sharp knife make a slash across each of the cakes and add a holly leaf. Brush the cakes with the beaten egg white and sprinkle over the caster sugar. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 12-18 minutes until golden.
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