Mince Pies

Ah, mince pies. Is there anything more quintessentially British, Christmassy and fundamentally brilliant? I think not. They’re odd, that’s not worth debating, but they’re wonderful too. I will also admit it’s probably an acquired taste – I mean really, they’re sweet but they’re called “mince pies” – if nothing else the name is off-putting. (And you’re forgiven for thinking until this moment that they were savoury…). But once you get past all that, they’re really rather lovely.

I think their best feature is that fact that they’re Christmas-related. I know that sounds odd, but it’s kind of true (at least for me). They’re tasty little morsels, and honestly, who would pass up an excuse to eat a rather large amount of buttery pastry when offered it in a completely socially acceptable way? But I only eat them at Christmas (because I’m a strict Christmas fanatic), and so they’re much more special and exciting because not only are they full of pastry (need I explain again?), but they’re also a sure sign that Christmas is coming. And what’s more exciting than that?!

And so I give you, mince pies, just in time for Christmas.

 

Mince Pies

Adapted from here and here

Pastry Ingredients

450g plain flour

250g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

1 egg

25ml water

Fruit Mince Ingredients

125g brown sugar

125ml cider/stout/fruit juice

500g granny smith apples

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

125g currants

125g raisins

30g glace cherries or mixed peel (optional)

zest and juice of 1/2 orange or lemon

45ml brandy or rum

 

Method

  1. For the fruit mince: place the sugar and cider/stout/juice in a large saucepan, and dissolve the sugar over low heat.
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples. Add to the saucepan with spices, raisins, cherries or mixed peel, zest and juice. Simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes or an hour until the apples are soft and everything looks “pulpy” as Nigella says.
  3. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When cooled slightly, add the brandy or rum.
  4. For the pastry: Blitz sifted flour and butter in a food processor to form a crumb. It is important that you do not over mix at this stage.
  5. Combine the sugar, water and egg and add to the crumb mixture, blitzing until it comes together as a smooth dough. Again – don’t over mix!
  6. Allow to rest in the fridge until cold then roll out to about 2mm.
  7. Cut rounds of pastry and place in a muffin tray (sprayed with oil beforehand!!). Spoon a little fruit mince into the pastry. Decorate with pastry stars if you want.
  8. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is golden.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing them from the tin.

 

Notes:

  • Fruit mince can be kept in sterilised glass jars for longer periods (ie. 6 months-a year)
  • You can make mini or full sized mince pies – just use mini muffin trays for the small ones
  • You can top these with extra pastry – either stars, hearts, Christmas trees or a full cover over the whole pie
  • They keep in the pantry for about a week.

 

 

Happy Christmas Baking!

 

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