I was getting ready for an afternoon of making mince pies. As I made the rich shortcrust, I imagined them topped with pastry stars and hearts. I imagined them warm and sticky from the oven. I also imagined rolling pastry, cutting out circles, stars, hearts, preparing pans, lining umpteen tartlet cases, filling them, topping them, baking them, and repeating the process until I either a) ran out of fruit mince, or b) started screaming uncontrollably.
I mentioned my afternoon's plans on Facebook, and my old friend Anita replied with, "Mince pies made like pinwheels, a variation I plan on trying this year…"
Zing! Novel idea, and suddenly the afternoon looked a lot let arduous. I'll make half as pinwheels, half as pies, I said. Easy. I rolled out half the pastry, spread with fruit mince, rolled it up, cut, and baked. Then I stood in the middle of the kitchen blinking, a bit dazed, because it had all gone by so fast. I blinked a few more times, forgot the pies, and made more pinwheels. Total time spent: 1 hour, which includes making the pastry from scratch. Anita rocks.
And sure: mince pinwheels are not as pretty as mince pies topped with stars and hearts, but they're still plenty pretty, and delicious either cold with a glaze, or warm with brandy butter. Pluds there's the added fun that Jane Grigson identified as an essential part of the enjoyment of a Chelsea bun: uncoiling them as you eat them.
No screaming whatsoever. I guess I rock, too.
FRUIT MINCE PINWHEELS
You can use bought shortcrust pastry if you like, but go on, it's Christmas! Blow it out a bit and make your own. This rich shortcrust is so much better than anything you can buy. Mince pies and pinwheels are great keepers and will reheat beautifully if you want to make them ahead.
(Makes 60 approx.)
800g. pastry flour
6 tbsp. sugar
2 egg yolks
Iced water, as needed
850g. best-quality fruit mince (I use a vegetarian, ie. suet-free, one from the wholefoods market)
To serve: sugar glaze (if serving cold) or brandy butter or custard (if serving warm)
What you do:
1. Rub butter into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can use a large bowl, but I do this in batches in the food processor. Mix in sugar. Add egg yolks and enough iced water to bring mixture together. Gather it up into a ball, wrap in cling film, and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 180oC. Line two large baking sheets with silicon paper. Divide pastry in four. Roll each one into a neat rectangle roughly 30x25cm. (Don't worry about the size too much. Important thing is to have neat edges and not have the pastry either too thick or too thin.) Spread with a quarter of the fruit mince, leaving a little gap all around. Roll up, and pinch edges to seal. Cut into 2cm slices with a sharp serrated knife. Repeat with remaining pastry and fruit mince.
3. Arrange pinwheels, cut side down, on baking sheets. Bake 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden and filling is sticky and bubbling. Lift silicon paper straight onto racks to cool. Allow to cool to warm if serving warm, or cool completely before glazing.