Classic Mince Pies with Cranberry Mincemeat

  • I think of these as very British – but we all love them and they have become part of our Christmas Day celebrations.
  • I make these with the pastry that I learnt from my mother  – a variation on kruche & półkruche,  pastry (a richer shortcrust pastry).  Using the proportion of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter.
  • Rather than the classic mincemeat – these were made with Cranberry mincemeat – which is lighter and more tart.

Ingredients – Pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter 
  • 1-2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Juice of 1 lemon (and maybe 1 tablespoon of cold water)
  • *
  • Glaze
  • Lightly beaten egg white
  • Caster sugar

Method for pastry

  • Rub the butter into the flour to make “breadcrumbs”.
  • Mix in the icing sugar.
  • First with a knife and then with your fingertips mix in the yolk & lemon juice (and  maybe a tablespoon of cold water.)
  • You are aiming to get a dough which is not wet.
  • Rest for about 30 minutes in a cool place.
  • *
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C
  • You need to grease the tins well in order to get the pies out successfully.
  • 2 sizes of cutters are needed – 1 – 7cm diameter, plain, for the base, 1 – 6cm diameter, crinkle edge for the top.


  • My tins are anodised aluminium and have a gentle rounded shape, this I think make for the perfect balance between the pastry and the filling.
  • I put “tops” on my mince pies – but not fully covered ones.
  • *
  • The tops are brushed with beaten egg white and sprinkled with caster sugar.
  • Cut out the bases and place them in the tins.
  • *
  • Place around a tablespoonful of mincemeat on the pastry.
  • Place the smaller tops on.
  • Lightly beat the egg white and brush this on the tops
  • Sprinkle caster sugar over the egg white.
  • Bake for around 15 minutes – keeping an eye on them – so they do not burn.
  • Leave to cool slightly in the tins & carefully remove them onto a rack to fully cool.

Baking with Cranberry Mincemeat 2 – Placek

  • I have tried several bakes using the cranberry mincemeat.
  • Here is the second one.
  • You can use any version of shortcrust pastry but the richer ones are the best.
  • This one is one my Mama used to make.


  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Cold water to mix the dough.
  • *
  • Egg white to glaze
  • *
  • Cranberry mincemeat


  • Rub the butter into the flour until you have breadcrumbs.
  • Mix in the egg yolk, lemon juice and enough water until you have a soft dough.
  • Cover and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • *
  • Grease and line a 26 x 16cm tin.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 6 – 200°C
  • Divide the pastry into two.
  • Roll out one half and use this to line the base of the tin.
  • Spread out the cranberry mincemeat over the pastry.
  • Roll out the rest of the pastry and cover the top of the tin.
  • Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg white.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
  • Cut into squares when cool.

Royal Doulton – Tapestry tea plate

Baking with Cranberry Mincemeat 1 – Easy Little Pies

  • These are the small version of the Easy Apple Cake posted recently.
  • Use the same amount of pastry and divide it into 8 or 6 portions.
  • *
  • Shortcrust pastry made from 200g plain flour, 100g butter, 1 egg yolk, juice of 1 lemon, extra water if necessary – 2 tablespoons of icing sugar optional.
  • *
  • Grease a large baking tray or two.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C.
  • Roll out each piece of pastry into a thin rough circle.
  • Brush the centres with some egg yolk.
  • Add a 1-2 tablespoons of the Cranberry mincemeat.
  • Bring up the sides but do not totally cover the filling.
  • Join up the pastry slightly.
  • Brush beaten egg white over the pastry.
  • Sprinkle a little granulated over the sides.
  • Place pies on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes till golden.
  • Leave to cool still on the baking tray for a few minutes and then transfer onto a wire rack.
  • Serve slightly warm or leave to cool completely.
  • Evesham plate by Royal Worcester. 

Cranberry ‘Mincemeat’

  • Cranberries – in Polish – żurawiny – grew in the area around where my father used to live – the part in the North East that was Poland before WW2.
  • Lingonberries – in Polish  – borȯwki – its smaller rounder ‘cousin’ also grew there.
  • My aunties who now live in Białystok had many memories of going out to pick baskets of these fruits.
  • In fact it is one of these aunts that gave me the recipe for Cranberries & Pears Sauce, which I posted some time ago.
  • The mincemeat’ here is a reference to the old English fruit & spice mixture, popular at Christmas time, that decades ago was made with meat, often mutton.
  • Nowadays in England the only meat reference is the fact that most of this fruit is mixed with beef suet.
  • There is no suet or any other fat in this recipe.
  • This with cranberries is a fresher tasting version but it will only keep in the refrigerator for around a month.
  • If you are worried about this keeping problem then just make it with half these quantities and use quickly


  • 600g fresh cranberries
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges or satsumas
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 150g currants
  • 150g raisins or sultanas
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 125ml sherry


  • Have prepared 4 – 5 sterilised jar jars.
  • Put the cranberries, sugar, zest and juice into a saucepan and heat till the fruit starts ‘popping’.
  • Add the dried fruit and spices and continue heating and stirring for around 5 minutes.
  • Add the sherry and continue heating and stirring for another 5-10 minutes until you have a thick liquid free mixture.
  • Leave to go cold and pot up into cold sterilised jars.
  • Keep in the fridge and use within a month.

  • Option – not tested – some dried cranberries to replace some of the currants or raisins.

Banana Bread

  • This is not a Polish recipe and my mother would not have made this cake, especially as my father did not like bananas.
  • But looking online and on Instagram I find that bananas are used in many new recipes from Poland.
  • Banana bread recipes originated in the USA in the early 1930s.
  • They tended to be made in bread or loaf tins but I have found a flatter rectangular tin gives better results.
  • For the best results the bananas have to be as ripe as possible – very black spotted skins and ‘squidgy’ flesh.
  • I have adapted an old recipe of mine by using dried cranberries and am very pleased with the contrast between the bananas and the cranberries.
  • I used a packet of cranberries which was 1`70g and made the dried fruit up to 250g with sultanas – you can adjust these amounts – but I found these worked well.


  • 225g plain flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 110g butter
  • 150g of granulated sugar
  • 170g dried cranberries
  • 80g sultanas
  • 450g – mashed ripe banana flesh
  • 2 eggs – beaten


  • Grease and line 32 x 22cm baking tin.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  • Rub in the butter till the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar, cranberries and sultanas.
  • Mix this with the eggs and mashed bananas till uniform.
  • Spoon into the tin and level.
  • Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
Served on Bramble Rose by Duchess

Cranberry & Apple Soup

  • This fruit soup is is both refreshing and warming in the winter.
  • Do not make it too sweet – it needs to be slightly tart.
  • Just like other soups this is served as a first course.
  • This soup is delicious served hot.
  • *
  • Although not traditional I think it could be super for Wigilia (Christmas Eve).


  • 300g cranberries
  • 2 large cooking apples
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of potato flour or cornflour
  • Small cinnamon stick
  • 8 cloves or allspice grains
  • 1 – 1.5 litres of water
  • *
  • Little sponge cakes  to serve


  • Put the water and spices into a large saucepan.
  • put the cranberries into the pan.
  • Peel and core the apples, chop into large pieces and add them to the pan.
  • Bring to the boil then simmer with a lid on the pan till the fruits are very soft.
  • Remove the spices.
  • Leave to cool a little and purée the liquid.
  • You will find there is a lot of foam and cranberry skins on the top – remove these with a slotted spoon.
  • You might want to sieve the remaining liquid through a sieve.
  • Add the sugar to the liquid and bring to the boil.
  • Mix the potato flour with a little water.
  • Add this to the soup.
  • Bring to the boil, stirring gently.
  • Simmer and stir until the soup thickens.
  • Serve with little sponge cakes.

Alfred Meakin – Midwinter – Spanish Garden soup dishes from the 1960s.

Duck with Red Cabbage & Cranberries

Recently I used duck, red cabbage &  dried cranberries as a filling for pierogi and really liked the combination.  I was pleased with the easy way I made the red cabbage mixture so I decided to use this with pan fried duck breast.

It turned out  well very and I think this will be replacing my slow cooker red cabbage method especially to use with quicker pan fried or grilled meat.

Ingredients for Cabbage & Cranberry Mixture

  • 1 small red cabbage (around 600g once core removed)
  • 100 -150g of dried cranberries
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt & ground black pepper


Rather than boiling, steaming or slow cooking the red cabbage, I used a sort of stir-fry & braising method which worked very well.

  • Put the cranberries in a dish and cover them with some boiling water and leave them for about half an hour.
  • Shred the cabbage.
  • In a deep frying/ saucepan heat some water and add the butter.
  • Stir in the cabbage and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  • Cover the pan – a glass lid is good so you can see what is happening – you need to check and stir occasionally.
  • Simmer for around 10 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries & water, stir and on put the lid back on.
  • Simmer for around 10  to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check on the water so it does not dry out.
  • If the cabbage has not cooked enough – adjust the water and cook for a bit longer.

Ingredients – Duck

  • Duck breasts – 1 per person
  • Italian herbs
  • Salt & ground black pepper


  • Rub the duck breasts with Italian herbs, ground black pepper and salt and leave for at least an hour.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM5 – 190°C
  • Put a baking tray in the oven for around 10 minutes to heat up.
  • Heat a heavy based frying pan (I use a cast iron pan) until it is very hot –  you do not need any added oil or fat.
  • Place the duck breasts in the pan skin side down and turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Turn them over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  • Put the duck onto the heated baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.
  • You can serve the duck breast as whole pieces or slice them up.
  • Place the duck on top of the cabbage and cranberry mixture to serve.

Served on Royal Doulton, Tapestry 1966 – 1998


Pierogi with Duck

I have recently returned from a super, short holiday in Gdańsk during which I tried out many old favourites and several new dishes.

I tried pierogi in several restaurants, choicing some unusual fillings and have been inspired to make them with some new fillings.

I did find that some of the meaty ones were too big – I use a 7cm diameter cutter, which for me gives a better filling to pasta ratio. and have been inspired to make some with some new fillings.

I had several delicious meals in a restaurant in the Old Town called Gvarathe name is based on the Polish word gwara which means dialect (Polish does not have the letter v !). This restaurant serves Polish cuisine – often with a modern take and it has given me much inspiration for some new recipes.

One of the dishes there was pierogi with  duck in the filling.

On the way back to the airport the taxi driver told me that his wife would be cooking duck with red cabbage for Easter Sunday – this set me thinking!

Because I had several ducks in the freezer, I roasted these and took off all the meat – however in the future I would just buy duck breasts or legs and roast or poach them.

3 Duck Fillings

Cooked duck meat – roasted or poached  – is used in these recipes – amouts are not critical.

Fillings must be left to go cold before using.

Duck & Apple

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 4 eating apples – Braeburn or Coxes are good


  • Core the apples and place them in a oven proof dish
  • Cook them in a medium oven until the flesh is soft
  • Scope out all the apple flesh
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat
  • Combine the duck and apple flesh together.


Serve with melted butter – here on Royal Worcester – Evesham from 1961 onwards.



Duck, Red Cabbage & Cranberries

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • 300g red cabbage
  • 50g of dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of butter


Rather than boiling, steaming or slow cooking the red cabbage, I used a sort of stir-fry & braising method which worked really well.

  • Put the cranberries in a dish a cover them with some boiling water and leave them for about half an hour.
  • Shred the cabbage.
  • In a deep frying/ saucepan heat some water and add the butter.
  • Stir in the cabbage and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  • Cover the pan – a glass lid is good so you can see what is happening – you need to check and stir occasionally.
  • Simmer for around 10 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries & water, stir and on put the lid back on.
  • Simmer for around 10  to 15 minutes.
  • Keep a check on the water so it does not dry out.
  • If the cabbage has not cooked enough – adjust the water and cook for a bit longer.
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Use a mini-chopper or stick blender to shred the cabbage mixture.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the duck and cabbage & cranberry mixture together.

Serve with melted butter – here on La prune by  Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Duck & Sauerkraut

  • 150g of cooked duck meat
  • Around half a large jar of sauerkraut
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Pepper to taste


  • Put the sauerkraut with the liquid from the tin or jar into a pan and cover with boiling water.
  • Simmer the sauerkraut gently for about 30 minutes.
  • Then uncover and boil off as much of the liquid as possible – without burning the sauerkraut.
  • Allow the boiled sauerkraut to cool.
  • Strain it using a sieve and pressing it down with a spoon to get the mixture as dry as possible (If you want you can put the strained mixture into a clean dry cotton or linen teacloth, twist the ends together to squeeze it to get it really dry).
  • Chop the sauerkraut finely with a sharp knife.
  • Chop the onion finely  and fry it gently in the butter until it is soft and golden – leave it to cool.
  • Chop or mince the cooked duck meat.
  • Combine the cabbage mixture, the fried onion and the chopped sauerkraut.
  • Add some pepper to taste.

Fried pierogi

All the butter coated pierogi that are not eaten can be fried up later – equally delicious!


I have written much previously about pierogi  – but have included the instructions for the dough again below.

Ingredients – Dough

  • 250g pasta flour or strong flour or plain flour & 2 tablespoons of fine semolina
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower or light olive
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk


  • In a jug or bowl mix together the water, oil and the yolk.
  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour in the liquid from the jug and initially use a knife to mix this into the flour and then use your hands to mix the liquid and flour to get a ball of dough.


  • Turn this out onto a floured board and knead the dough for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball.
  • Cut the dough into quarters.
  • On a floured board roll out a quarter at a time until you have a sheet of thinly rolled dough.
  • Now prepare a large tray and cover it with a clean tea towel and sprinkle this with flour.
  • Have a large surface such as a tray covered with a cotton or linen cloth which has been lightly floured ready  and place the sealed pierogi on this until they are all made, do not let then touch each other.
  • I cut them out using a 7 cm diameter cutter.
  • The excess dough can be re-mixed and rolled out again.
  • Around a half tablespoon of filling is put on  each circle and then they are folded over and the edges pinched together to make a good seal.
  • You learn from experience how much filling to put in as too much will make it hard to seal them and if not properly sealed they will burst on boiling.  Do not worry if you have a few mishaps – it still happens to me even with experience – it is hard to salvage one that has gone wrong – just accept that there will be a few that you do not cook.
  • To cook the pierogi, use a large pan of boiling water to which you have added some salt and a drizzle of oil.
  • Drop the pierogi in one by one and allow them to boil.  I usually do about 6 to 8 at a time (I only do 6 at a time if using frozen ones).
  • As they cook they will float to the surface, let them boil for 2 to 3 minutes, a bit more if they were frozen, and then remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and put into a colander above a pan for a few seconds to drain and serve.
  • Continue boiling batches in the same water.
  • If you want to make all the pierogi to serve together then you need to get a large shallow dish and put the melted butter into the dish
  • Keep the dish warm in a low oven.
  • As you take out the cooked pierogi add them to the dish, mix them with the butter to prevent them sticking.
  • Keep on adding more as they cook and keep shaking the dish to coat and mix them.





Cranberry & Pear Sauce

This is very popular in Poland, especially in the wintertime, and is served with hot roasts or cold meats and smoked sausages.

  • I cannot find any reference to when and why these two fruits were put together but they do make a good combination.
  • It is more like a conserve or a salsa  –  it is not a pouring sauce.
  • Many years ago I got a recipe from my aunty in Białystok. However I did not get around to to making this until recently, mainly because the pears in my garden are ripe in September but fresh cranberries are not  in the shops in England until around December.
  • As I could not use my own pears and I  decided to make this with bought produce.
  • The following proportions are used,  2 parts cranberries to 1 part pears (once they are peeled & cored).

  • Hard pears, such as Conference pears are best and it is better if they are ripe as they provide sweetness.
  • I find that “bought” cranberry sauce is often much too sweet and sickly.
  • It is difficult to judge how much sugar to add, I have given the quantities I used, it is easier to add some later, hard to take any away!

Version 1

This will keep for at least a week in a fridge – I pack the sauce into oven sterilised jars.

Ingredients – 1

  • 600g Cranberries
  • 300g Pears (once peeled and cored)
  • 300g Granulated sugar
  • 300ml of water


  • Rinse the cranberries and drain and put them into a plastic bag, flatten the bag and place it into a freezer for 24 hours.
  • The next day, take the cranberries out of the bag and put them into a bowl and cover them with boiling water then leave them for 30 minutes and then strain them.
  • Peel and core the pears and then cut them into rough cubes.
  • Place the cranberries in a thick bottomed pan and add the pears, sugar and the water.
  • Bring to the boil, mixing often then simmer gently for around 30 minutes, still stirring often.
  • Pour the sauce into hot sterilised jars – leave them to cool thoroughly  before putting on the lids.

Version 2

This will also keep for at least a week in a fridge – I pack the sauce into oven sterilised jars – it has a “fresher ” taste than version 1.

Ingredients -2

  • 600g Cranberries
  • 300g Pears (once peeled and cored)
  • 70 -100g Granulated sugar


  • Peel and core the pears and then cut them into rough cubes.
  • Place the cranberries in a thick bottomed pan and add the pears and 70g of the sugar and stir well.
  • Cover with a lid and heat gently for around 5 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and give the mixture a stir, continue doing this for around 15 minutes, when you check and stir you can test for sweetness and add up to another 30g of sugar.
  • Pour the sauce into hot sterilised jars – leave them to cool thoroughly  before putting on the lids.

Placek with Cranberries, Chocolate & Nuts

After Christmas I found  I had lots of dried cranberries & nuts left from other recipes.

So I decided to make a variation on my placek (flat cake) with chocolate, nuts & sultanas


  • 120g butter
  • 120g Demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g chopped chocolate (a mixture of dark & white)
  • 80g chopped nuts


  • Grease and line a 21 x 26 cms baking tray.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C
  • Chop the nuts and the chocolate.
  • Mix the nuts, chocolate & cranberries together.

  • Cream together the butter and Demerera sugar.
  • Mix in the vanilla essence and the eggs.
  • Mix in the nut mixture.
  • Gently fold in the flour.
  • Put the mixture into a baking tray.
  • Bake for around 30 – 35 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into squares to serve.

Served on Queen Anne teaplates – design name unkown.