And I’ve honed my Bake Off battle plan into five basic principles that will hopefully secure me the Mince Pie Tiara. Here they are:
1. Source Magical Tools
I have not managed to find any Women’s Institute mince pie filling. The magic and love poured into such a concoction would have won me this competition hands down and I’ll admit there was a sense of finger tip tapping desperation as I realised I was going to have to buy a jar from the supermarket.
However, I was then saved. My gorgeous neighbour, Debbie, has lent me her most precious age-old mince pie cutters that belonged to her beloved grandmother.
Frankly, you can not get any more magical than this.
Generations of mince pie love have been ingrained into these beautiful items.
My magical confidence is now back in peak state!
2. Get Clear On The Outcome You DON’T Want
Over the last few weeks me and Pix have been testing out a few different types of mince pies. Whilst we have found many that are middling and some that are pretty damn good – the worst ones were those with the Viennese swirl on top.
The idea is nice.
Having a claggy lump of goo attached to the top of your mouth is not nice.
Hence will not be making ones like these.
3. Get Clear On The Outcome You DO Want
Pix and I concluded that the most superior mince pie we tried were the ones in the café in Marks and Spencer. These were not the shop bought ones, but a lovely homemade version with a classic pastry bottom and pastry lid.
Rather than trying to predict what the judges might prefer, I have decided to go with what I like.
4. Gather As Much Info As You Can From The Opposition
“If you put a star on your mince pie instead of a cap, it ensures a crispier pastry that is not so doughy.”
Loose lips sinks ships Ads! Hehe
5. Harvest ideas and images that delight you. Mix these together in a marriage of inspiration and gorgeousness and wah-flipping-lah.
One of Ads’ cheffy sayings is, “we eat first with our eyes.” And there are few people’s food that I have visually salivated over lately than the plates of Italian chef, Massimo Bottura, a Michelin-starred chef who heads up Osteria Francescana in Modena.
I would never have known about this guy, had Pix and Ads not have been watching the professional Master Chef episode a few days before Pix’s birthday. I had been curled on the sofa hidden behind a large pad and wafting a Sharpies cloud, when I glanced up and saw food being served like this.
And this …
I like the splattered one best.
What Massimo does with sauces and reductions, I did with paint in my Grow Your Own Gorgeousness book. This man is my creative kin! I am determined to go to his restaurant and eat his food, with my eyes and my mouth.
But first I have to beat Ads.
And its all very well splattering my plate with a constellations of astrological colour, but that colour can’t be made from paint. It’s got to taste like something.
So that’s when I thought I’d visit my other Admired Man’s Mind.
Its not the food that Heston makes that excites me, but his eccentric creativity and inventive wildness. Last year for me and Ads’ birthday we went to the Fat Duck in Bray. Do you remember? I wrote about our experience in the Naturally Sensational In Bray post – and have never forgotten it since.
By combining Heston’s flavours and Massimo’s wrist flicks, I mixed it all up and this is my offering so far:
“Divine mince pies in a constellation of hazelnut infused cream and a mulled wine reduction”.
I feel it needs something else though …
I’m not sure what.