Puff, shortcrust, frangipane, sugar crusted, even store bought… whatever form it comes in, you will eat a mince pie over Christmas, you’ll probably eat way more than one but we won’t judge here (I’m already on 9 & counting).
They’re perfectly imperfect (if they’re too perfect looking then are they even a mince pie?), often you’ll get a wonky lid or an overflow of filling oozing out from the top , but care we do not, why? Because it’s tradition, a Christmas without a mince pie is simply unimaginable!
Everyone knows how to make them & I’m sure your mams & grans all have they’re own recipes or ways of making them that holds a special place in your hearts at this time of year.
I make two kinds at Christmas, fulfilling both ends of the hunger scale… deep filled & mini. In both instances though, there should never, ever be more pastry than filling when it comes to mince pies, if there is, you’ve been conned.
Originally born from the ‘Christmas Pie’, these were made with a mixture of meat (usually mutton), suet, fruits & spices (yum). Thankfully, mince pies have since evolved into the sweet treat we know today, brimming with sugar, booze, dried fruits & spices… all the flavours of Christmas!
A good mince pie needs only two thing’s work… a crumbly, buttery pastry case & a rich, fruity, sweetly spiced mincemeat (see recipe here). One without the other can leave you feeling both underwhelmed & filled with regret (let’s face it, for that amount of calories it has to be worth the investment).
Hopefully you’ll agree that my mince pies have all the buttery, spiced, boozy goodness that our hearts & bellies desire come December. The only thing you have to decide upon is how to devour them… hot or cold? Brandy butter or ice cream? Personally, it has to be warm with a good pouring of double cream.
For the pastry:
- 350g plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 190g unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 2-3 tbsp water
For the filling:
- 900g mincemeat (see recipe here)
- To make the pastry sift together the flour, salt & icing sugar into a bowl
- Add in the cubed butter & rub together using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Add the egg yolk & stir through the crumbs until a dough starts to form
- Add in 1 tbsp of water at a time, just enough to bring it together into a dough, use your hands to help to bring it together
- Shape the dough into a ball & flatten out into a disc shape, around 1 inch thick, wrap in cling film & leave in the fridge to chill for at least an hour
- Once the pastry has chilled, roll out to approximately 3mm thick
- Use a round 10cm cutter to cut out 12 bases & use these to line the holes of a a muffin tin (I find using the end of a rolling pin or a pie pusher to press them into the tin helps speed this bit up), trim any excess pastry that comes over the top of the hole in the tin
- Re-roll our the pastry & use a 7cm cutter to cut 12 lids, you can either slash a small hole in the tops of the lids or use a decorative cookie cutter to cut out a larger hole to let any steam escape when baking (alternatively you could cut out a large enough shaped piece of pastry to use as a lid , i.e. a star or snowflake)
- Spoon in around 2 spoonfuls of mincemeat into each of the pastry cases, so that it’s nearly in line with the top but not quite
- Pour some water into a small bowl & dip your finger in, use this to dampen the top edge of the pastry cases
- Place the lids on top of each, either pressing them down to seal or you can use the back of a fork to help seal them & produce a nice crimping effect around the edges
- Bake the pies at 180C for 20-25 minutes until a nice golden brown colour
- Remove from the oven & place on a cooling rack, leave the pies to cool completely in the tin
- Once cooled, carefully remove & dust with a little bit of icing sugar