This holiday season, we’ve asked the core faculty of our Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking Arts programs to share some of their favorite festive recipes. First up is Chef Kathryn Gordon, renown for her work in sugar sculpture, confectionery, petit fours, chocolate and ice cream.
I moved to Australia the week of my 11th birthday and went to high school in London. During those years, I fell in love with spiced fruit desserts. Fruit cake often gets a bad rap in this country, but in Australia and England, it is beloved and the traditional wedding cake! I love steamed plum pudding, too – traditionally served flaming with brandy and a sprig of holly (don’t eat the holly, it’s only a decoration).
In England, my family rented a house with twelve foot holly hedges around it, which were planted one hundred years ago by the original owner John Innes. He was a friend of the Arts & Crafts movement leader William Morris and supposedly invented compost.
Australia was more of an adjustment, since it is summer in December and our thermometer broke at 120°F. The first holiday, we got a canoe on Christmas morning and took off for a pond. Yet there I discovered one of my favorite new treats: fruity mince pies with flaky dough. You can make them larger if you want, but I like them mini because they fit in your hand and you can eat them while enjoying a steaming cup of milky tea.
2 sticks unsalted cold butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
½ cup cold milk
Cut the cold butter into 1” large pieces and place in food processor with the flours, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Pulse quickly; do not let the pieces get too small. Stop the food processor, add the zest and cold milk when the butter is the size of a cranberry. Mix only until the dough forms.
Pick up a handful of the dough and smear it on the countertop in a sliding, upward motion. Set aside. Repeat until all dough is used up. Gently pat the dough flat in between pieces of parchment paper. Refrigerate one hour prior to rolling. Roll 1/8” thin and cut into (32) 3” disks.
Note: Traditional mince contained beef suet, but this easy version is vegetarian.
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup currants
1 cup prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon candied ginger
1 tablespoon candied orange confit
2 cups dried apple slices
Working with one fruit at a time, pulse the fruit in food processor until diced small, about ¼”. Place in a wide saucepan and repeat until all types of fruit are cut.
4 cinnamon sticks
peel of 1 lemon
peel of 1 orange
Wrap in cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni. Place in saucepan with fruit.
1/2 vanilla bean
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup orange juice
2 cups apple cider
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons brandy
Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the sugar. Add to the saucepan and cook over low-medium heat 45 minutes, until juices are absorbed into fruit. Cool, then remove bouquet garni and vanilla bean.
Assembly and Baking
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water
Lay the cold dough disks on a piece of parchment, brush with ½ with egg wash. Place 1 tablespoon of cool minced fruits in center, top with second piece of dough. Pinch around edges to crimp with slightly floured fingers, and crimp edges with a fork. Place on parchment lined sheet pan. Brush tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Pierce tops to make decorative design. Freeze 15 minutes to set the shape. Bake in pre-heated 375ºF oven until golden, about 20 minutes.