This academic year was my second time spending the Christmas holidays in the UK. With the range of activities and events run by the University as part of the annual Christmas in Leeds programme, there was bound to be something to do over the Christmas break.
I attended the Festive Food Demonstration in December hosted by the International Student Office, in partnership with Great Food at Leeds (it was a free of charge event too!). With the Christmas season in spirit, 2 different festive dishes were introduced: Festive Pancakes and Mince Pies! University Chefs Chris and Lisa hosted the demonstration, and also provided useful tips to make them perfect.
What was great about these recipes for me, was the simplicity of the process and the small amount of ingredients required. The pancakes required only three basic ingredients, and five ingredients for the mince pies. (Recipes are at the end!)
First up was the pancakes, and a range of topping combinations was introduced in the demonstration, both sweet and savoury. Whilst I decided to go with a classic sweet pancake topped with strawberries and whipped cream (as I love sweet foods), I definitely am looking forward to trying the other toppings introduced in the future.
Here are also some of the other pancake variations introduced in the demonstration. There’s so much you can do with these pancakes, it’s honestly up to your liking!
Fun fact: English pancakes were first featured in the 1400s cooking books. Here, there is something called “Pancake Day” (also known as “Shrove Tuesday”), which marks the start of the build-up to Easter, and is observed in many Christian countries.
The second recipe demonstrated was mince pies, a sweet pie traditionally served during the Christmas season. Interestingly, the filling is known as mincemeat though it does not contain any actual meat. Originating from the 13th century, it did used to contain mincemeat, however the pies went from being savoury to sweet in the 18th century. The mince pies we now know of typically contain sultanas, currents, mixed peels, shredded apples and orange peel. (For anyone looking, mincemeats are widely sold in jars at the supermarkets here!)
Whilst the mince pies did take longer to make than the pancakes, it was definitely worth the effort as they came out great. Before this demonstration, I had only heard of but never tried mince pies before, so I was very excited to do so.
Below you can see my mince pies before and after they went into the oven! I decided to try 3 different tops for the mice pies, including the crumble mix shown in the demonstration, as well as a covered top and starred top.
Tip: I did not have round cutters, so I used a bowl to trace and cut out the pastry instead. For the star, I traced out the shape on baking paper first, then cut it out to use as a guide for cutting the pastry!
For both, I dusted on a bit of powdered sugar, and here we have some pretty and tasty Christmas treats. (They definitely tasted as good as they look 😋)
This was definitely a fun and enjoyable experience, and I definitely enjoyed attending other events part of the Christmas in Leeds programme. Hope everyone had a safe and happy holidays! And for anyone interested in giving it a go, below are the recipes.