Sunday, 9 March 2014

Mum's Date and Banana Slices

I thought the season of illnesses and ailments was over. Evidently I was wrong. I also thought that my immune system had taken all the battering it could from Freshers' flu, and had emerged tougher and stronger. Clearly I was wrong about that, too. A combination of many rainy and cold nights out, and the ever evolving melting pot of germs at Uni has meant I've had a cold almost constantly since coming back to Cornwall. And it's at times like these that you just want to be curled up by the fire and a plate of something comforting. These mincemeat squares are just that. Spicy and sweet, they bring back Christmas memories like nothing else.

I made,or rather, watched my Mum make, these just before Christmas. Mum's not much of a baker, so making cakes in the kitchen with her is something of a special occasion (I can't stand anyone else in the kitchen when I'M cooking normally, my family knows this), and I'm more than happy to sit, watch and take 'arty' (badly lit) photos.

Essentially, these squares are just two layers with shortcrust pastry sandwiched with mincemeat, orange, apple and some other goodies. They're really really good, and I don't even like mince pies normally. But I should stop comparing them to Christmas pies, they'll be amazing all year round! They don't even look particularly Christmassy.

Next time you're missing the winter season and it's snuggly goodness, try these heart warming mincemeat slices. They're easy (no risk of unrisen cake!) and delicious, and an opportunity to get everyone into the kitchen! If you use ready made pastry (a total cheat I know, but necessary sometimes!) they're an absolute breeze.

Date and Banana Mincemeat Squares

1 block ready made shortcrust (approx. 500g but there will be leftovers)
400g mincemeat
1 eating apple, grated
60g walnuts, broken into pieces
zest of one large orange
1 banana, mashed
8 dates, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1tbsp brandy (optional)
icing sugar to dust

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, or gas mark 6. Grease a shallow baking tray.
2. Mix all filling ingredients together in a large bowl, reserving a tablespoon or two of the beaten egg for glazing the pastry.
3. Cut the block of pastry in half and roll both halves out so they're large enough to cover the baking tray with excess. Cover the tray with one of the halves, making sure it fits in the corners well, and leaving a lip around the edge to join the second piece to. Spread a little milk or water on the lip so the second layer will stick well.
4. Spread the filling on top and even out. Lay the second piece of pastry on top and press down the edges gently. Trim off excess.
5. Crimp the two pieces of pastry together with a fork or your thumb so they are sealed well. Prick the surface if the pastry with a fork a few times to stop steam build up, and brush the top with the remaining beaten egg.
6. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool in the tin and cut into squares, then dust with icing sugar.

Squares will keep in an airtight container for about a week.

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