I think of these as very British – but we all love them and they have become part of our Christmas Day celebrations. Originally the pies were made with meat and this idea of meat and spices came from the Middle East and it is thought to have been the brought back by the Crusaders.
I make these with the pastry that I learnt from my mother – a variation on kruche & półkruche, pastry (a richer shortcrust pastry). Using the proportion of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter.
200g plain flour
100g butter or block margarine
1-2 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 egg yolk
Juice of 1 lemon (and maybe 1 tablespoon of cold water)
Lightly beaten egg white
I always make my own mincemeat using the recipe in Delia Smith’s Christmas cookery book but without the chopped almonds (I do not like the crunch of the nuts).
When making the pies I add a little extra brandy or sherry to the mincemeat and stir it in.
My tins are anodised aluminium and have a gentle rounded shape, this I think make for the perfect balance between the pastry and the filling.
I put “tops” on my mince pies – but not fully covered ones.
The tops are brushed with beaten egg white and sprinkled with caster sugar.
Method for pastry
Rub the butter into the flour to make “breadcrumbs”.
Mix in the icing sugar.
First with a knife and then with your fingertips mix in the yolk & lemon juice (and maybe a tablespoon of cold water.)
You are aiming to get a dough which is not wet.
Rest for about 10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C
You need to grease the tins well in order to get the pies out successfully.
I often use the pastry in two halves.
2 sizes of cutters are needed – 1 – 7cm diameter, plain, for the base, 1 – 6cm diameter, crinkle edge for the top.
Cut out the bases and place them in the tins
Place around a tablespoonful of mincemeat on the pastry.
Place the smaller tops on.
Lightly beat the egg white and brush this on the tops
Sprinkle caster sugar over the egg white.
Bake for around 15 minutes – keeping an eye on them – so they do not burn.
Leave to cool slightly in the tins & carefully remove them onto a rack to fully cool.
Tea-plate is Stardust by Colclough from the 1960s.
Mince pies on buffet table