One bite of our home-made mince pie recipe and you’ll never want to buy them in again – plus we’ve got three nifty variations on the classic version.
A short history of mince pies
The tradition of spiced mince pies goes back centuries but the name ‘mincemeat’ refers to the filling, which up until the Victorian era would have contained actual meat along with the spices and fruit. The only remnants of the meat in today’s mince pies is the inclusion of suet in the filling, but vegetarians can use vegetarian suet rather than beef suet. Folklore tells us that mince pies are Father Christmas’ favourite nibble and that one or two should be left next to the chimney along with a glass of sherry – and a carrot for Rudolf, of course!
Rich shortcrust pastry
Makes 315g (enough for 12 mince pies)
1. Sift 170g plain flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Rub in 100g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, with your fingers until you have a crumble-like mixture.
2. Stir in 1 tbsp caster sugar, then add 1 large free-range egg yolk and mix quickly with a palette knife. Add 1-2 tbsp cold water, a little at a time, mixing with the knife until the mixture is drawn together into a dough.
3. Press into a ball, then wrap in cling film and chill for at least 10 minutes.
For flavoured pastry
Try adding ground almonds, cinnamon, citrus zest and nutmeg to your pastry. For the really adventurous, swap goose fat for a quarter of the butter for a rich, flaky pastry.
Quick mincemeat recipe
Makes 1.125kg (enough for 3 x 375g jars)
Make this a month or so in advance so that it develops a good depth of flavour. If you don’t have time to make it, a good version is Duerr’s Luxury Mincemeat, from Sainsbury’s and Netto.
1. In a bowl, mix together 110g sultanas, 170g each raisins and currants, 170g grated bramley apples, 110g suet, 200g soft brown sugar, 100g finely chopped mixed peel, 65g blanched and chopped almonds, ½ tbsp mixed spice, the zest and juice of 1 orange, and a large splash of brandy.
2. Wash some clean jars in warm soapy water, rinse and dry in a low oven. Spoon the mincemeat into the sterilised jars and seal – they’ll keep for 12 months.
Can I freeze mince pies?
Freeze mince pies uncooked – just pop your tin of filled mince pies in the freezer until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag or plastic container. When ready to cook just place as many as you want back into the tins and cook at 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 for 20-25 minutes, until golden and piping hot.
Tins and cutters
Experiment with different tin shapes and sizes, and play around with cutters to make pretty decorations for the tops of your mince pies.