22 December 2011


Christmas.....its a great time of year in many, many ways.....except if your trying to eat Paleo. I personally have had a bit of a nutritional nightmare this month. Work parties, Christmas parties, alcohol and temptations of junk food everywhere to be seen. Its time to get back on track with a great recipe of the paleo way that fits into the seasonal spirit.

I took inspiration of this recipe from a few different locations....unsure originally if l should push the boat out and make a mincemeat stuffed dark chocolate christmas pudding. After seeing how these came out l was perfectly happy with my contribution to Christmas! 

I was pretty impressed with the look of these when they came out, l have been experimenting this week with different pastry casings for this recipe, this one was by far the best for taste and asthetics after cooking. I found this pastry recipe on the Crossfit Tameside thread, the filling kind of made itself, but inspiration taken from the steamed Christmas pudding recipe on the BBC FOOD website from a few years back with a few additions of my own for what I wanted them to deliver. (obviously without the alcohol too)

The ingredients for a dozen mince pies are as follows;


3/4 cup mixed raisins and saltanas
1/2 cup of figs
1/2 cup of suet *see notes below on suet
Zest from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 orange
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 apple
1 pear


2 cups of almond flour
2 egg whites
A sprinkle of cracked salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring

Optional - handful of flaked almonds to decorate

* Suet is a very hard animal fat, taken from around the kidneys of cattle, and usually shredded. It has a high melting point, which gives a unique lightness to pastries and sponges.

You can buy fresh suet from a butcher, but these days the suet 'knobs' are usually removed from a carcass after slaughter, so no longer arrive at the butcher attached to the kidneys, so you'll need to order ahead. It is worth it, though, not least because it will be unprocessed and traceable. (If your butcher sells organic beef, they should be able to get you organic suet, too. Your butcher may be happy to shred it for you; if not, just grate it yourself on a cheese grater. Fresh suet has a dry, almost crumbly texture and a slightly meaty smell. It contributes a distinct richness to sweet dishes, and won't make your roly poly taste of beef.

Packaged meat suet is a fairly unprocessed product. It's made by melting down fresh suet, then extruding it into pellets. Most packaged suet sold in the UK comes from Irish cattle. Given the option, get from your Butcher to ensure quality!


STEP 1 - pre heat your oven to 120 degrees

STEP 2 - finely slice up your apple and pear, leaving the skin on. Once sliced place them into a large pan that we can put into the oven once all of the ingredients are mixed together.

STEP 3 - slice up your figs, grate your zest from the orange and lemon adding them to the same pan along with the cinnamon. Mix all of these dry ingredients together in the pan.

STEP 4 - add the suet and mix it through the ingredients you have in the pan already so that it is evenly distributed throughout.

STEP 5 -  Place some tin foil on top of the pan to seal it loosely before placing in the oven for around an hour. We're after the ingredients being "tacky" when they come out so they have just broken down a little. We dont want they to be totally reduced as we will be doing something similar in a later step.

STEP 6 - once your pan is in the oven, place your 2 cups of ground almonds into a mixing bowl. Create a small well in the middle then seperate and add your two egg whites to the middle of the well, also add the vanilla and the pinch of salt. Mix this thoroughly until you get a form of paste. If this appears too sloppy add a little more ground almonds until you have a more cohesive mixture. 

STEP 7 -  put down a sheet of greaseproof paper, put your pastry on top. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and start to roll it flat. You dont want this too thin as it will simply break when you try to roll it. Use your judgement, but its best to have a thickness of around 1/3 of an inch if not more.

STEP 8 - put this in the fridge to chill for around 15 mins and you will find that it becomes a little easier to shape and manage in the next stage. Take this chance to check on your filling thats in the oven, stir it all up in the pan and make sure the fruit is becoming tacky.

STAGE 9 - Get a bun tray out and melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a cup in your microwave. Then using a brush, grease the individual bun tray spaces to ensure your not fighting with a mince pie once they are cooked.

STEP 10 - Once your pastry has had time to rest, remove it from the fridge and cut it into circles with a cutter....or if your common like me use the mouth of a glass or cup. Cut out as many as you can with the pastry that you have, you want to have two circles for each pie. Once youve exhausted how many pastry circles you can cut out, roll the excess up and flatten it again. Youll find you will get a few more circles by doing this. DONT MOVE THESE FROM WHERE YOU HAVE CUT THEM, THE MORE THEY ARE MOVED, THE WORSE THEY WILL LOOK. BE PATIENT AND KEEP THEM THERE FOR A FEW MINUTES

STEP  11 - one at a time, lift up your circles from where they have been cut with a sharp wide flat knife blade below them. Place one circle in each of your bun spaces on the greased tray. Once you have 12 lined up leave everything where it is until your hour for the filling cooking is up. If this is a while away, put the pastry circles in the fridge to prevent them breaking down and being unworkable when you need them to be.

STEP 12 - once your filling has had the hour to cook, remove it from the oven and place it into a food processor. It should be looking something like this, just starting to break down and sticky.

Obviously make sure that it has a moment to cool and is not placed into a sealed food processor. Blend the mixture until it looks something like this. When it gets to this stage, add the agave nectar and a tablespoon of water to the mixture before blending together a little more. Your ideally after something that looks like this

STEP 13 - spoon your filling into the 12 pastry bases generously. Your able to heap this in as the lids that you add will bend over the mixture for you to seal at the edges nicely. 

STEP 14 - once all of the cases have been filled, apply the 12 pastry lids. Lightly dab the sides where the bottom base and lid join to seal up the pie and allow the insides to stew during cooking. 

STEP 15 - score the pastry or decorate as you see fit at this point. I did a little knife work on the top and sprinkled some flaked almonds.

STEP 16 - Cook at 175 degrees for 15/20 mins until pastry is golden. This cooking time all depends on the thickness of the pastry you have used. Keep an eye on them, checking every 5 mins for the first 10 mins, then every few minutes as cooking gets later.

STEP 17-  ...tuck in and have a taste

As you can see mine came out pretty well...

I was really chuffed with how these came out. The almond pastry is something that l will use again for other recipes, making tarts with some fruit filling for example. The slight crumble of the sweet pastry is great, but even better when you get to that warmed fruit filling. Add to that the differing textures of the fruit and the little fig seeds that you find and its pretty damn good food!

If you need something to accompany this, you could always freeze some coconut milk with some vanilla pods in to make a little make shift ice cream.

Heres wishing you a Merry Christmas from Primal Provenance, the blog is now 2 months in and gathering viewing pace by each day. I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for viewing the blog, l hope that it has bought you as much pleasure cooking the recipes as it has for me creating them. 

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