Advent in Nakuru is an odd time, well it is for us at least. We have our advent calendars up and are working on a Christmas tree, possibly a step up on our rosemary branch last year. The sun is shining and the weather is hot (this is not a complaint), but in our DNA Christmas it is a time of being cosy in the cold, being with family and waiting for Christmas to come.
Although this time of year makes us think of home, the massive reduction in the commercial noise that precedes Christmas in the UK is so refreshing. Lucas is beginning to grasp advent and Christmas, what happens and what it means, including eating all of Daddy’s advent biscuits in a unique twist on sharing… For us this is a time of slowing down, reflecting on the year that has gone by and a time of hope.
The night before we returned to Kenya last month, I had the most odd sensation, my head full of packing I decided to go for a run at 9.30pm on a cold winter evening (we were due to travel at 6am the next morning). Wearing my head torch which pierced through the dark and a very attractive florescent running jacket, I ran out in to the cold air doing a lap of the village and letting my mind return to peace. On the way home I unexpectedly bumped into some friends (who gave me the “your crazy” look) and pointed me to another friend who was in the new local deli which was open late for Christmas shopping, during my run my mind had been shifting its expectations to the world we would be back in the next day, when suddenly the warm and inviting aroma of steaming red wine infused with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg hit me full on in the face. The deli was full of Christmas food delights, my mouth watered and I savoured that moment which can best be described as the “Christmas feeling”… and took it to Kenya. These little pies are my attempt at a Kenyan mince pie…a nice little twist on a “normal” one!
Recipe – Mulled Mango Frangipane Pies
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter – diced and chilled
dash of yoghurt
50g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
150g ground almonds
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
25g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 lemon, zest
Filling (Mulled Mango)
2 ripe mangos
1/2 sachet mulled wine spices
glass of red wine
100mls orange juice
1 tsp dark brown/muscavado sugar
hand full of raisins
50g cashew nuts
1. Make the pastry: mix flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts till the texture is like fine sand. Add the yoghurt, ground almonds, egg yolks, tsp cold water and blitz again till dough comes together. Massage the dough in to a neat ball. Flatten in to a disc, cover with cling film and chill for an hour.
2. Halve the dough and roll out to 2mm thickness. Stamp out appropriate sized circles to fit your pie/muffin tins. Press in to the tins and leave to chill for around half an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
4. Whizz all the frangipane ingredients together in the food processor until smooth.
5. For the filling: put all ingredients (except nuts) in a saucepan and simmer until it is the consistency of mincemeat.
6. Put 1 tsp of the filling in to each pastry case and top with 2 tsp frangipane ensuring filling is covered. Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake for about 20 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and after around 5 minutes carefully remove from the tins and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
8. Dust with icing sugar for serving.
9. Close your eyes, take in the smell and think of Christmas…
Patients queuing outside the clinic