I appreciate that teaching someone to make mince pies is a bit like teaching your Granny to suck eggs and that they’re one of the first things a lot of people learn to cook but there are definitely some of my friends who could probably use a bit of help in this respect and so I thought it would be nice to cook, eat and write about some lovely mince pies!
Now the absolute ideal would be to make your own mincemeat and Delia would certainly expect you to but there’s absolutely no shame in getting it out of a jar because it’s Christmas and I expect your list of things to do is as long as your arm and that you haven’t time to have a cup of coffee and put the shopping away in a neat fashion, let alone make mincemeat. If you do want to make mincemeat though, there is a recipe for you below.
- 225g/8oz vegetarian suet
- 225g/8oz Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 125g/4oz candied peel, chopped
- 225g/8oz sultanas
- 225g/8oz raisins
- 225g/8oz currants
- 175g/6oz demerara sugar
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 60ml/2fl oz brandy
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Pack into sterilised jars and seal.
- Store in a cool dark place until you want to use it.
Pastry is another important aspect. I like a nice crispy shortcrust pastry but flaky is nice or a pate sucree (a sweetened shortcrust pastry with eggs). I make my pastry in the Kenwood or the magimix because it’s lovely and quick and I have exceptionally hot little hands which are the closest thing to a mass murderer where pastry is concerned! But you can make the pastry by hand and it’s super quick. Do you top yours with more pastry or flaked almonds or even with icing and a glace cherry like a little bakewell tart? Some people like to layer over slices of pastry so that it looks like a lattice and other like to cut out star shapes which I admit is pretty and if you have the pastry rolled out and the cutters out of the back of the drawer, then that would be lovely. I like the ones topped with a swirl of meringue which looks like a tiny meringue tart. I do a very boring usual pastry top but I often make a star shape cut in the top of the pastry as it lets out the hot air but also looks quite christmassy.
I expect everyone person in the world has a different pastry recipe and I’ve read and tried loads of them over the years but this is a combined effort of all of them and most importantly, my mum’s.
You will need a shallow bun tin, the kind you would use for fairycakes or yorkshire puddings but not as deep as a muffin tin.
My Mince Pies
- 500g plain flour
- 220g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 95g lard, cubed
- 680g mincemeat
- Milk, to brush the tops with
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl and, lightly and at a height above the bowl, rub the butter and lard into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add a few teaspoons of ice cold water, bit by bit, until it forms a soft dough. Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220 C.
- Flour a surface, roll out half the pastry until about half cm thick. Take a cutter and cut out 24 shapes, and use this to line fairycake tins. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry case.
- Roll out the remaining pastry and, using a slightly smaller fluted cutter, cut out 24 lids.
- Brush the pastry edges with a little water and cover the pies with the smaller pastry discs.
- Cut a small hole in each mince pie, brush with milk and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the tins pretty quickly with the edge of a knife, if you leave to cool any spilled mincemeat will stick to the pan like superglue and you’ll be in tears trying to get the pies from the tin.
- Dust the tops with icing sugar.