The filling in the middle can be adapted to suit the seasons and the recipe also works really well with fresh fruit, as long as it doesn't exude too much juice during cooking (although even that can be overcome by cooking and draining the fruit first). For a taste of Christmas I used a mixture of mincemeat, dried pears and fresh apples - adding apples cuts through the sweetness of the mincemeat. Using the dried pears was a waste of good ingredients, however, as their flavour was overwhelmed by the mincemeat.
2-3 eating apples (peeled cored and diced into pieces about the size of sultanas)
4 dried pear halves (snipped into similar sized pieces with scissors)
150g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
300g SR flour
2 tablespoons chopped toasted hazelnuts
icing sugar for dusting
Grease and base line a 20cm(8") springform tin. Preheat oven to 180C.
Mix the diced apples and dried pears into the mincemeat and set aside - the acidity of the mincemeat should stop the apples from discolouring.
Melt the butter (I find it easiest to do this in a large mixing bowl, in the microwave, then the dough can be mixed in the same bowl). The butter doesn't need to be hot, just completely liquid. Stir in the caster sugar, then the beaten egg, then mix in the flour to make a soft spreadable dough.
Take roughly 2/3 of the dough and spread it evenly over the base of the cake tin. Push the dough up the sides of the cake tin a little way (about 2cm), to make a wall to contain the filling. This wall doesn't need to be any thicker than rolled out pastry for a pie - it just holds in any fruit juices.
Spread the mincemeat mixture evenly over the dough base.
Use the remaining dough to top the cake. (The easiest way is to flatten small pieces of dough with your fingers and put them on top of the cake filling, fitting them together as closely as possible but getting an even covering too. It doesn't matter about small gaps as the dough spreads and fills in the holes during baking. I usually start at the edge of the cake and work inwards - the dough is pliable enough to spread easily.)
Sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts, then bake for 50-60 minutes until firm and golden brown.
Cool in the tin, then dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
This was my last baking session before starting on the Christmas desserts tomorrow, so I'll wish you all
A HAPPY AND HEALTHY 2016!