Christmas is only a few days away now and I’m still not feeling festive…this is due in part to the fact that we don’t have a Christmas tree or any decorations up this year; we are in the process of renovating our house so it’s in a bit of a state and there was nowhere to put the tree. I intend to make up for it next year when the house is finished by going overboard with the decorations… I’m sure I will be in the Christmas spirit come Christmas day, which we are spending with a group of friends, and then Boxing Day will be spent with family. I am on dessert duty for both occasions (what a surprise!) and am planning on making chilled desserts that I can prepare the day beforehand as I wont be in my kitchen to bake anything on the day. So I wont be making this apple and mincemeat filo wreath as it needs to be eaten fresh from the oven (although I am partial to a slice of it cold, the following morning for breakfast).
If however you are in control of an oven on the day (or indeed any day around the festive period), this would make a lovely, lighter alternative to a Christmas pudding. It is still full of Christmassy flavour from the mincemeat but isn’t as heavy as a steamed pud, it can also be prepared last minute if you weren’t organised enough to make a pudding. Not only that but it is also extremely easy to make, it is more of an assembly job than anything else; a simple matter of stirring together a few ingredients for the filling and then just layering everything up; and no, I didn’t make my own filo pastry, I’m not a masochist.
I served the wreath with custard, but it would also be lovely with cream, ice cream, or to be truly festive, brandy sauce. It is quite delicate, so is a little tricky to transfer from the baking sheet to a serving platter, serve it straight from the tray if you aren’t fussed about putting it on a pretty plate, or a cake lifter is very handy if you do wish to move it. I made the sugared cranberries purely for decorative purposes, although I do quite like to eat them. They are very easy to make, just dip the cranberries in some sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water), roll in granulated sugar then leave to dry for about an hour. So tell me, are you prepared for Christmas? What are you planning on serving?
- 3 large or 4 small eating apples such as braeburn
- 300g (10.5 oz) mincemeat
- 75g (2.65 oz) dried cranberries
- 70g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) light brown soft sugar
- 125g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
- 10 sheets filo pastry
- 100g (3.5 oz) ground almonds
- icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Peel, core and dice the apples, mix with the mincemeat, cranberries and sugar.
- Lay one sheet of filo pastry flat on the work surface, brush with melted butter and sprinkle over ⅙th of the ground almonds; lay another sheet of pastry on top and repeat the butter and almonds, lay another sheet on top and repeat again. Lay a fourth sheet of pastry on top and spread over half of the apple mixture, leaving a 5cm border around the edges. Roll the pastry up from one of the long sides to encase the apple filling, don't roll it too tightly. Shape the roll into a semicircle and place on the baking tray.
- Repeat with four more sheets of pastry. Place the second semicircle onto the same baking tray and tuck the ends of each half together so that it forms a complete circle. Brush all over with melted butter.
- Cut one of the remaining sheets of pasty into four strips width-ways. Wrap a strip around each join and around any splits that might have opened up while you were shaping the wreath. Brush with butter.
- Cut the remaining sheet of filo into stars using a small pastry cutter, brush with butter and place decoratively on top of the ring.
- Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Carefully slide the wreath onto a serving platter (it is very delicate and you may lose a few stars in the process, a cake lifter is the best tool for the job.) and dust with icing sugar. Serve immediately with custard, cream or ice cream.