I love Christmas. I’m a bit of a Christmas geek. I mean, not in a crazy tree up in October kind of way. I start a bit of shopping and baking in November, but we don’t really get festive until December.
We put our tree up on the 1st of December, or at least the first weekend in December, and that’s when we start watching films and a Christmas CD finds it’s way into my car.
I’m a bit of a child about it all. I get very excited. I love shopping and wrapping, snacking on Christmas treats and indulging in a Costa Black Forrest hot chocolate in a pretty takeout cup. To be honest, I don’t even mind being cold in the run up to Christmas. It’s cosy and festive.
As a kid, Christmas was all about presents and decorations. Now that I’ve got kids myself, these are still a big part of it. But, it’s the food. All of the Christmas baking, the treats, the chocolates and the turkey really make it. Curling up with a box of Quality Street and a glass of Bailey’s is absolutely the best thing in the world. Especially if Elf, or Love Actually, or the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special is on TV.
Last year, I made loads of Stollen. It was what I wanted to get right and learn how to make. I loved it. I don’t like mince pies really, so I wanted something festive that I love. And I got it. Stollen is amazing. I Love the fruity bread and marzipan. I also love Yule logs. But, I don’t particularly like Christmas cake and I can’t stand Christmas pudding. For such a Christmas food lover, I’m not a massive fan of some of the most traditional Christmas treats.
Mince and Marzipan Rolls
As I say, I don’t like mince pies. The mince is a weird and quite strong flavour. In a bit of pastry I just find it a bit odd. I don’t hate them, I’ll have one if we’ve got a box, but one a year is enough. I don’t look forward to them. I’m just not fussed.
I’m not a massive marzipan fan either, but then I love it in stollen, so maybe it just depends how it’s used.
I do however love my Cinnamon Rolls. I like a cinnamon swirl, but the ones that I make are a Chelsea bun style. Nice thick sweet bread, with cinnamon and sugar , drizzled with icing. Sweet, sticky and bready. Perfect.
So, as a Christmas alternative, I wanted to make the same bread rolls, but with mincemeat instead of cinnamon. Husband suggested adding marzipan. The sweetness really works with the mince. I was worried that they weight would affect the rise, but as long as the first prove is long enough, and you roll the marzipan nice and thin, it works really really well. These Festive Mince and Marzipan Rolls are fantastic.
The flavours and texture come together so well. It’s yum.
I must confess however that I am the worlds worst roller of dough. My pizzas are a big blob, not a circle, and my Festive Mince and Marzipan Rolls dough will not turn into a rectangle, whatever I might do. Perhaps I’m just not patient enough. So, when I roll my rolls, it’s never ever even. Once cut, the ones from the ends are tiny, and the middle ones are huge. I tend to let husband eat the not quite right end bits straight out of the oven, and the rest I keep to show off! Which makes me sound like a bit of a feeder.
If you want yours to be perfectly even, take the time to roll a perfect rectangle, around 30cm by 20cm and 0.5-1cm thick. Then, cut them into 2cm slices. If, like me you’re not that fussy, roll it out more roughly and work with what you’ve got. Make sure it’s no more than 1cm deep though.
Festive Mince and Marzipan Rolls
For the Rolls:
- 240 ml Milk
- 135 g Caster Sugar
- 14 g Yeast - 2 Packs of instant yeast
- 115 g Butter - At room temperature
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 600 g Strong white bread flour - Plus extra for dusting
For the filling:
- 400 g Mincemeat
- 200 g Ready to roll marzipan
For the Glaze:
- 120 g Icing sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tbsp Milk
- Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until luke warm
- Pour into a large mixing bowl
- Stir in the caster sugar and yeast
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes until it’s starting to froth and it smells yeasty
- Uncover and beat in the butter with a wooden spoon
- Add the salt and the eggs, one at a time, stirring each in well
- Add the flour in 4 lots, thoroughly stirring in one lot before adding the next
- Stir until it comes together as a sticky dough
- Tip out on to a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour to your hands when needed
- Place in a greased mixing bowl, cover with clingfilm or a plastic bag and leave somewhere warm for 1 hour
- While you are waiting grease and line two baking trays and roll out your marzipan to around 30cm x 20cm and as thin as you can get it, on a surface powdered with icing sugar
- When the dough is ready, tip it out onto a floured surface and punch out the air
- Knead back into a ball, and roll out to around 30cm x 20cm and no more than 1cm deep
- Gently lay the marzipan on top of the dough, and use the back of a spoon to spread the mincemeat all over
- Roll the dough gently, from the long side
- Use a very sharp knife to slice this log into roughly 2cm slices
- Gently place these slices, filling side up, on your baking trays, leaving room for them to expand
- Cover these trays and leave for 1 hour in a warm place
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
- Once your rolls have risen so that they are touching, or nearly touching, bake them in the oven for 25 minutes
- Leave in the tray to cool
- For the glaze, mix the icing sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth, adding more milk if needed
- Drizzle this over the top of your rolls once cool. I just use a spoon to roughly pour it over
- The dough that you knead at the beginning is very sticky, just add as much flour to your hands as you need and keep going. It’s meant to be much stickier and softer than regular bread dough, don’t worry.
- I cover my dough with a regular plastic shopping bag and leave in a warm room or near a radiator, it can take time to rise, so don’t worry if it needs a little longer.
- I use 2 baking trays and space the rolls a few cms apart.
- It’s easier to spread the mincemeat if it’s room temperature, so don’t keep it in the fridge beforehand, or take it out in plenty of time.