Christmas without mince pies is unimaginable. Why? Take a look at this easy recipe for the rich, sticky, sweet fruits wrapped in pastry to see why. They are delicious.
Mince pies have been eaten as part of a traditional British Christmas since as long ago as the 16th century. Then, they were made of meat but are now made with sweet mincemeat; a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices and brandy.
Home made mincemeat is quick and easy to make and there are also many great commercial brands out there to use instead.
Suet is an important part of the mincemeat and is an animal fat, if you don't eat meat, look out for vegetarian version or make mincemeat using an alternative fat.
Shortcrust pastry is my preferred mince pie case, some like puff pastry, you choose.
- 12 oz./350g all-purpose flour (or plain flour)
- Pinch of salt
- 8 oz./225g butter (cubed or an equal mix of butter and lard)
- 1 beaten egg and cold water as needed (to bind the pastry)
- 1 jar of mincemeat (shop bought or home made)
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Make the Pastry
- Place the flour, butter and salt into a large, clean bowl (or you can make this is a food processor)
- Rub the butter quickly into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles rough sand.
- Stir the egg into the mixture using a cold knife. The add cold water a teaspoon at a time and stir until the mixture binds but is not sticky.
- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes.
Assemble the Pies
- Choose a muffin or bun tin for the size of the pie you want. Choose from a standard 12-cup muffin tin, down to small canapé size. The number of pies will depend on the size of cup you use.
- Dust a work surface lightly with a little flour and roll out two-thirds of the pastry to 1/8"/3mm thick. Cut circles to line the cups of your tin, don't worry if the pastry doesn't come to the top.
- Fill the pastry lined tins 2/3 full with mincemeat.
- Roll out the remaining pastry to the same thickness and cut smaller circles to fit as lids on the tarts or to be decorative, cut stars or other fancy shapes.
- Dampen the edges of the tart bases with a little cold water and press the lids on. Make a small hole in the surface of each pie with a small sharp knife to allow the steam to escape.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins (15 mins if making canape size) or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the icing sugar.
Mince pies are delicious served hot or cold on their own or with Brandy Butter. They will keep well if placed in an airtight tin - up to seven days. Sometimes they benefit from a gentle warming in the oven before serving.