The filling for this pie gives a taste of Christmas and yet it has a much fresher sharper taste than real mincemeat. It is a lovely combination of consistencies.
Cut the fat into the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub together with your fingertips until it is like breadcrumbs. Mix in a little very cold water until the mixture just sticks together. Gather into a ball and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Peel and core the apples and cut into pieces. Put them with the sugar, lemon juice and a very little water in a saucepan. Cover, and simmer gently until the apples are soft. Take them out with a slotted spoon and put them on a large ovenproof plate or a shallow flan dish. Boil up rapidly any liquid left over from the apples until it thickens and pour it over the apples. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, the sultanas, the cut up orange slices and the mixed peel. Fry the almonds quickly in a little butter until just golden and sprinkle them on top of the fruit. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 6 (400°F/200°C). Roll out the pastry to roughly the size of the pie plate. Moisten the edges of the pie plate. Roll the pastry back over the rolling pin and out again on to the fruit. Trim the edges and press down. Decorate with the trimmings cut into shapes (my daughter was given a toy pastry set which has little plastic pastry cutters in the shapes of hearts, stars, birds etc., which are very useful to me – a plump crumbly pie covered with hearts and glistening with caster sugar is a cheering sight). Sprinkle caster sugar over the top and cook in the centre of the oven at Gas 6 (400°F/200°C) for 20–30 minutes until pale golden brown. Serve with cream, hot if possible but it is also good cold.
© 1976 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.