With all the thoughts of Christmas crafting, I’m also beginning to think about Christmas baking.

Cakes and mincemeat can be made well in advance, and can use fruits currently in abundance, if you have an orchard. If you don’t, dried varieties are fine.

The problem I have every year is that M doesn’t like dried grapes – raisins, currants, sultanas – and I have to work out substitutes. Usually blueberries and cranberries, to be fair. Not that difficult.

Anyway, homemade mince pies are much better than shop ones, even if you use readymade pastry.

But, as a start to the Christmas baking, here’s a basic mincemeat recipe, from Mary Berry.

Put: 700g of your preferred dried fruit, 100g mixed peel, 1 cooking apple, 125g butter/suet/cacao butter, 50g chopped almonds, 225g brown sugar, spices to taste (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, mixed spices), and the juice and rind of a lemon or lime in a big saucepan and heat gently until the butter/suet is melted. Simmer very gently for about 10 minutes.

Allow to cool completely, then stir in 200ml of your preferred alcohol: brandy, rum, sherry, mead. I used some Jack Daniels Winter Spice stuff.

Spoon into sterilised jars and keep in a cool place for up to 6 months. The sort of Christmas preparation you can do well in advance.

You should get about 4-5 normal sized sorts of jars out of this recipe.