Clara´s Pastry and Up the Mountain Mince Pies

Don´t recommend cooking these during a power cut!

Last Christmas Eve, which is the Big Night here as far as Christmas dining goes, we were a “small” group of only about 20 over at Big Man´s mother´s home. He comes from 10 siblings, all apart from one have at least two children.  Most of the neices are nephews are also married and have children of their own, so you can imagine what family weddings are like.

Because I have the biggest oven, I was put in charge of cooking 2 whole lambs.  Even though they weren´t enormous by some standards, it was a whole lot of lamb and a whole lot of cooking.  In true Up the Mountain style, we had a power cut on the evening of 23rd December which lasted 24 hours.  Luckily my oven is gas, so cooking the meat was not a problem but I was doing it by torch and candlelight.  As they tend to eat their meat cooked through here, and I had to ensure it wasn´t remotely pink, keep it warm and transport it 25km whilst ensuring no one went down with food poisoning, it was challenging to say the least.

Yesterday, we ran out of gas.  Not through negligence on my part but because the man who delivers the gas cylinders (no mains gas Up the Mountain) seems to have disappeared and we haven´t been able to swap the empty “bombonas” for full  ones for a few weeks.  Not to worry I thought, planning my baking today, I can use my little electric oven and Big Man can load the empty bombonas onto the truck and drive to the nearest village which stocks them and change them over.

Meanwhile last night, the lights went out, then came back on, but it looked as though they were being run by a generator fired up by an old lady pedaling slowly on a rickety old bicycle.  As I type this I am working on battery power, fingers crossed things resolve themselves soon and I can cook, bake and post.

Today I will make mince pies.  I don´t come from a family of great pastry chefs, but my best friend Ria, luckily does.  Her mum, Clara, makes the best pastry ever, and like many people of her generation, does it without a list of ingredients or measuring.  When I moved to Spain I remember calling her one Christmas in desperation and she yelled the ingredients down the phone to me which I then managed to transfer into measurements I can use.  She always uses margarine in hers with lard, I use butter and lard.  You can use all butter, the choice is yours, but don´t blame me if the pastry is not as good as Clara´s.


  • 200g plain flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 50g each of cold butter and lard
  • One egg, beaten
  • Milk

Rub the fat into the flour and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (I won´t tell Clara if you do this in a food processor….not an option for me today with the electric situation), Then using a broad knife, work the egg into the flour.  Now gently start to bring the pastry together with your hands.  You will probably need to add a very little milk so add drops rather than slugs.  This morning I used about a tablespoon.

Now wrap in plastic and leave to rest in the fridge until you are ready to use it, but bring it up to room temperature first.

Bake at about 200ºC when you have filled with mincemeat, jam, whatever.  Obviously I had another power cut mid way through baking today, hopefully you won´t and yours will be perfect!

I made my  mince pies using my mincemeat, but even a humble jam tart is elevated to perfection with this biscuity pastry.  Clara doesn´t bake anymore, but I hope she´s proud that her recipe is being shared for so many others to enjoy.

Merry Christmas Clara – wish we could have a sherry and a mince pie together this year!


42 thoughts on “Clara´s Pastry and Up the Mountain Mince Pies

    1. You´re right, we do! There is a Fish lady in another village but we don´t think much of her as she´s very expensive! Thanks for your kind words re the lamb – but I think it was the oven 😉

  1. I expect the butanero will bring you double gas next time, after Christmas, in true Spanish style 🙂
    Good job you’ve got Big Man and the truck!

  2. We had two power cuts last Christmas, both times in the middle of cooking panettone!! They turned out more like teacakes than light and airy panettones, but they tasted lovely toasted. Just to let you know I am not planning on making any panettone this year so we should be fine for power cuts!! Have a fab Xmas with all the family Tanya, besitos.

    1. Gracias Natalie for your good wishes and thanks for heads up on not making panettone! However, we´ve got to cook 2 of the 5 goats ordered, so I can almost guarantee power cuts here 😦 Have a wonderful Christmas y Felices Fiestas!

    1. I think it´s a very British thing…but you know we like to get everywhere! Do give it a go if you come across it but mince pies are always much nicer warmed than cold.

  3. Oh you have such the pioneering spirit Chica! So good at rolling with it, you are!
    Wishing you a warm, outage-free and in-every-way-lovely Christmas!

    1. It´s true – I´m like Ma in Little House on the Prairie and Big Man is Pa (but he doesn´t have a pair of Pa´s fabulous Long John´s…yet!). Thanks for your good wishes and, as they say here, “Igualmente”, which means “likewise” but sounds much friendlier in Spanish 🙂

  4. Santa should have brought you a medal for your efforts last year. Now, added to this year’s woes, it looks like you’re heading for canonization. “Saint Tanya, the woman who gives her all every Christmas, performing miracles along the way!” I hope things settle down a bit for you and you have a wonderful, electric power-filled, Christmas!

    1. Thanks John – the bit I left out of the story was that yesterday morning Alfi, the naughty dog, ran under the wheels of Fish man´s van. It was a hideous but after tests, x-rays and morphine (for him, but I could have done with some too!) he was fine…just very bruised. Today you would hardly know that a van full of assorted prawns and octopus drove over him….honestly, we could all have done without that!

  5. AHAAH, I have learnt a new pastry recipe that is EASY! Thank you darling. Merciful heaven I just looked upwards as i was typing and Your Dog got RUN over by An octopus!! goodness me. i must stop sampling the boozy fruit! Which by the way is called the Chica Boozy Fruit, is divine and i am not sharing! c

    1. It´s a great pastry and even works for me who usually has not very much luck with things that need to be rolled out! Yes, poor Alfi (and me) had a big shock yesterday but we´re still talking to Fish Man as it wasn´t his fault. I like the idea of Chica Boozy Fruit but would be interested in hearing you say it after a few too many samples!

  6. These power cuts seem to be a problem across the globe Tanya – it doesn’t worry me too much except for when I have something in the oven – can’t say I would be as brave as you to cook two whole lamb – kudos!
    Beautiful mince pies!
    Merry Christmas.
    🙂 Mandy

  7. Aaaaaah – thank you! Clara is very proud of you carrying on her pastry making tradition – I’ll have that sherry with her in your place 🙂 Lots of love xxxxx

  8. My Christmas wish for you and your family is for a festive fun filed experience without any more problems. My blessings to you all, Karen

  9. Mmmm, I love mince pies!! I also LOVE this time of year, because it’s definitely pastry time. This one sounds like it would hit the spot!

  10. This reminded me of my mum. Wish I could have a sherry and a mince pie with her as well but hey, such is life. Got to say I never got her recipe for her delicious sweet pastry. I hope that Clara wouldn’t mind me adopting hers as my new sweet pastry de jour.

      1. Who knows…mum and Clara are probably up there now arguing over how much icing sugar to add to that pastry to sweeten it 😉

  11. (Yeah…I nicked your mincemeat recipe as well…you know what they say about we fenian antipodeans…that’s what got us banged up abroad in the first place! 😉 )

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