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.
450g plain flour
250g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
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
30g glace cherries or mixed peel (optional)
zest and juice of 1/2 orange or lemon
45ml brandy or rum
- For the fruit mince: place the sugar and cider/stout/juice in a large saucepan, and dissolve the sugar over low heat.
- 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.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When cooled slightly, add the brandy or rum.
- 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.
- 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!
- Allow to rest in the fridge until cold then roll out to about 2mm.
- 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.
- Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing them from the tin.
- 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!