Banana Brandy Mince Pies



I’m on the train home from Glasgow listening to Shakira singing about her hips that don’t lie and trying to remember if I put the socks I got you for Christmas in my suitcase or my rucksack…or if I left them in my flat. (Hmm, I left them in my flat).

Imagine for a second that the phrases ‘I like you’, ‘I really like you’ and ‘I love you’ didn’t exist in the human language. Instead, you’d give a person a pair of your favourite socks. A pair that would look great on the person – fit them somehow.

Valentine’s Day would be a pure sock fest. Haha.

I got to dinner at a friend’s flat the other night cold and wet. Anna gave me a pair of socks and Rebeka handed me her hair dryer.

It’s late and I’m putting on my shoes. I return the socks to Anna, fish my gloves out the pocket, put one on and Anna stops me. She inhales sharp and excited like she’s just seen a magic trick – goes – ‘Your gloves! They match the socks’. She reaches for the socks I folded by the radiator, inspects how similar they are to my gloves. Rebeka comes, nodding, smiling, telling me the gloves and the socks are matching – same pink, same yellow stripe.

I got home that night with a new pair of socks for Christmas, feeling like two people I haven’t known for very long had been kind to me, had just said a kind of ‘I really like you’ in the biggest smallest way possible. These mince pies are my way of saying a big ‘I really like you’ in a small way (lol great transition).

A Christmas pudding, a bakewell tart, and a mince, pie walk into a bar. They get drunk and fall over each other in a big heap – these little tarts are a neat version of that drunk mess. A crispy, buttery, fruity, rich, not-too-sweet really, good drunk mess.

Assembly – this recipie is a coming together and the fridge is your friend. The fruit needs at least 2 hours to soak in the brandy and orange juice, but it’s best if you can leave it to soak overnight. The pastry and frangipane can also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

Shape – I don’t like pancake flat mince pies. So, these are deep. You want a large cupcake tray or a muffin tray for this recipe.


For the Fruit

  • 350g dried fruit – I use a mix of dried figs, cranberries and raisins
  • 80ml brandy
  • Zest 1 large orange + 100ml of the juice
  • 1 large banana – I promise it works

For the Pastry

  • 175g plain flour
  • 30g sugar
  • 100g butter – cold and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cold water

For the Frangipane

  • 50g butter – softened
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 25g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • a drop of vanilla extract


Mix the dried fruit, brandy, orange juice and zest in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

For the pastry, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cubed cold butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry mix until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the tablespoon and one of the teaspoons of cold water, then, using a knife cut through the mixture until it starts to clump together. Get your hands in and bring the dough together to form a smooth ball. You want a ball of pastry that cleans the side of the bowl with no dry flour visable. If it looks too dry, add in the second teaspoon of water. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refridgerate for at least 30 mins. You can leave it overnight if making ahead of baking time.

Make the frangipane. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffed up around the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat again until combined. Next, add the ground almonds, flour, salt and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Then cover and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the pies.

When you’re ready to bake, pre heat the oven to 190 / 170 fan. Grease a deep cupcake tray and line each indent with a strip of greaseproof paper. Set aside.

Strain the soaked fruit, keeping the liquid aside. Mash up the banana and mix into the drained soaked fruit. Set aside.

Roll out the pastry to about a 1/4 cm thick. Using a round cutter (about 10cm) cut out 12 disks of pastry, placing them in the cupcake tray as you go. Distribute the fruit filling between the mince pies (about 2 teaspoons in each). Now add a teaspoon of the reserved liquid into each pie.

Top each mince pie with the frangipane (you should get about a teaspoon on top of each), leaving a bit of the fruit visable round the edges. Scatter the tops with flaked almonds. Ideally, you want to put these in the oven a little cold, this’ll stop the pastry shrinking. If you have time/can wait, stick the assembled pies in the fridge for about 20 mins before baking.

Bake for 18 – 20 mins or until golden brown.

Allow the tarts to cool before lifting them out the tin and EATING with lots of cream. Mmmm cream.

ohhh look it’s a stary pork pie

Happy Christmas Joe. love Caitlin x



Hey Joe,

Happy New Year’s Eve! Here is a Christmas recipe for you! This Lebkuchen recipe is from Mum’s German Christmas Baking book, it’s what I used to make the gingerbread house. If you are not Joe, maybe you don’t know what Lebkuchen is? It’s a German Christmas biscuit. There are lots of different kinds, but the one in this recipe is the best. It’s a cross between a cake and a biscuit that is spiced and sweetened with honey. A bit like soft set gingerbread… but with no ginger. Mmm! You’ll never want to eat anything else at Christmas ever again.

This bit has nothing to do with Lebkuchen. We met Becky and Roly for a walk yesterday about a 30min drive away from home. In the car on the way back we were talking about how good it was to see them, and to see people around this time of year. I said ‘I like hearing about other people’s Christmases’, you ‘what, listen to other people’s Christmas and then say nothing about ours?’, me ‘yeah.’, you ‘classic’. Then we laughed. Me ‘it normalises it a bit’, you ‘mm, yeah it does’. That wasn’t us saying no one ever asks about our Christmas (lol, this would be pretty sad), or that Becky and Roly didn’t ask or want to know (they did!), but it was us acknowledging our quietness about the day, that normally we wouldn’t because we wouldn’t be together with the same friends. It was comforting to hear that our friends’ days had their own drama and comforting that this time I wasn’t the only one being quiet about the day because most of the time our Christmas is a little bit too painful, too predictably strange to talk about. The conversation we had in the car on the way back made me very calm and happy. The music was good and your lemon jelly bean car freshener smelt nice.

This dough needs time to rest over night in the fridge, it needs this time to develop its flavour. This will also help the biscuits keep their shape when baked in the oven because your dough will be a bit cold before hitting the oven. Sorry, I hate it when recipes say that, I know you want your Lebkuchen now, I do too.

This makes A LOT of Lebkuchen. haha. But it’s a really forgiving dough that keeps well once baked. You can also keep the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days before baking. So, if you don’t have the oven space to bake all 40 at once, spread out your baking over a couple days.


For about 40 pieces of Lebkuchen

  • 250g honey
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 400 to 450g plain flour – start with 400g, if you think your dough is too soft to roll out add in the extra 50g
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice – if you don’t have this (I didn’t) replace with ground ginger or any other spice listed above
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tablespoons rum or water


Melt the honey, sugar and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved into the melted honey and butter. At this point there should be no grainy bits of sugar on the spoon used to stir the mixture.

Pour the melted mixture into a bowl and allow to cool slightly while you measure out the flour and ground almonds.

Add the ground almonds, sifted flour, spices and egg into the melted honey mix and work together with a spoon (or hands) to form a dough. The Dough will not form into a ball, but it will be stiff and quite hard to stir together.

In a cup mix the bicarbonate of soda and rum or water until dissolved. Add this to the dough, and beat mix together until the dough is shiny and and tacky (not really sticky). Don’t worry about the dough being stiff, it’s a mini workout for the ol’ biceps.

Cover the bowl of dough with cling film and leave overnight in the fridge.

The next day heat the oven to 180 and line a couple of baking trays with grease proof paper, or butter. Take the dough out of the fridge for about 15 mins. This will just make it easier to roll out.

Lightly flour your worksurface and rolling pin (or wine bottle) and roll out the dough to about 4mm thick. Cut out your lebkuchen shapes, re rolling the dough until it’s all gone. If your biscuit cutters stick then dip them in flour before cutting.

Bake for 10 mins or until the biscuits are puffed up and the edges look set. They should come out of the oven very soft, this is good! Don’t be tempted to bake them until they are firm, or your lebkuchen will be sad and dry.

Once cool, you can leave them as they are, cover them in lemon icing (mix icing sugar and lemon juice to a runny consistency) or dip them in melted chocolate. The Lebkuchen is your oyster!

Becky and Roly, this post is for you. Happy New Year’s Eve, Love Caitlin xxx

A Gingerbread House for Christmas 2020


Yo Joe

It’s Christmas boiiiii! Happy Christmas to you. You’re in the shower right now upstairs and I’ll say happy Christmas to you when you come down, so, this happy Christmas is to anyone reading. Happy Christmas, I hope where ever you are you’re feelin good vibes today. We actually have quite a few people reading now, for once I’m not counting mum and dad as quite a few.

I’ve told quite a lotta people about this gingerbread house and everyone asked for pics so thought I’d put it on here. I’ve decided Im gunna do this every year. Thats the plan.

Seeing as your new fav thing is Lebkuchen (haha) I used a Lebkuchen recipe from mums German Christmas baking book.

I gotta wrap your present now and think mum is trying to get me to dance to Christmas carols on the radio (a great Christmas past time, if anyone wants a Christmas activity. You are welcome) so I’m not gonna write the recipe today in full. I’ll put it up tomorrow because Lebkuchen smells and tastes pretty pretty bloody great. I have it all over my face right now actually! I’ll give you a brief run down of the Gingerbread process.

Step 1: make a derelict looking gingerbread house.

Step 2: get a lot of sweets of different varieties, shapes, sizes, smells, personalities. Don’t leave em out because Joe will come into your house and eat them.

Step 3: make a derelict looking gingerbread house look like it is not derelict anymore! Make it look beautiful with all of the sweets that Joe didn’t eat!

Welcome to my crib MTV

Happy Christmas to you. I hope, at some point today, you have some cake on your face. Love Caitlin xxx