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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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Latest Queries

  • Star-Topped Mince Pies

    Hi, Nigella, for the pastry in the Star-Topped Mince Pies could I use extra butter if I don't have vegetable shortening? Thank you and best wishes, Nelly .

    From the nigella team:

    Nigella often uses vegetable shortening in pastry (pie crust) recipes as it gives a slightly flakier texture to the pastry. This is partly as shortening has a lower water content than butter. If you can't get vegetable shortening then it would be fine to use the equivlent quantity in extra butter for the Star-Topped Mince Pies (from Nigella Christmas). 

    Another possible alternative, if it is available, is to use lard. This is an animal fat but is very similar to vegetable shortening in the way it works in pastry. However some people feel that the flavour of lard is better suited to pastry for savoury dishes so if you are not sure then use extra butter.

    We would suggest chilling the assembled mince pies before baking them as this can help to give a flakier pastry if you use all butter in the pastry. 

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