There are some things which tend to divide people into two camps. Mince pies are one of them, with a surprising amount saying they don’t like them!
Personally I love a good mince pie, and this year I’m on a mission to convert those of you who think you don’t like them.
I think what people tend to dislike is that mincemeat is often very rich and sweet. My personal view of a store bought mince pie is that the pastry-to-mincemeat ratio is all off. Far too much mincemeat, which is a very rich flavour for the modern palate. Added to which, the store bought pastry on pies is, in my opinion, more akin to cardboard than proper pastry.
So how do you make a good version? If you have a sweet tooth and tend to like mince pies, try making your own as I outline below, but you can just use mincemeat right out of the jar (add brandy if you like)!
If, like many others, you find mince pies too sweet, please try my suggestion below and add in something with a bit of tartness (cranberries, or a squeeze of lemon + zest) to balance things out a bit. And don’t add sugar to your pastry! The mincemeat is sweet enough!
Recipe (makes 12):
For the pastry:
- 100g butter
- 100g plain flour
- 100g self raising flour
- 1 medium egg
- Pinch of salt (if your butter was unsalted)
- Milk (to glaze)
For the filling:
- Jar of good quality mincemeat (around 400g). Do not get one with brandy or other alcohol added if you are going to add the rest of the ingredients here!
- 100g cranberries
- A good slug of Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur, about 40ml (add orange extract if you want alcohol free)
First make the pastry. Cut the butter into cubes and then add the flour and salt. Rub together to make “breadcrumbs”, lifting high to get in air. (Confession: I have been using my Kenwood stand mixer instead– I currently have a fractured elbow, after all!)
Add in the egg and mix together. Now add in small amounts of cold water, just enough to bring the pastry together, but not to make it sticky. Remember you need to be able to roll it out! Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30mins.
While the pastry rests, make the filling. Poach the cranberries in the Grand Marnier (or use a little water if you are making alcohol free pies) until they soften (5-10 minutes). Stir the cranberries and liqueur into the mincemeat (add orange extract here if you like).
Grease a cupcake tray and flour your surface and rolling pin ready to roll out the pastry. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Once the pastry has rested, roll it out to about a 3mm thickness. Handle the pastry as little as possible! Cut out the pie bases and tops, gather together the remaining pastry and re-roll and cut out again.
Put the bases in the prepared tin. Place a good teaspoon of filling onto each base, so they have a good mouthful but are not overfull. You should have leftover filling for another day. Brush the top edge of the pastry with milk. Add the tops and press together firmly. Brush the tops with milk.
Bake for around 15mins, until the pastry is golden and cooked. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy whilst warm from the oven!
What are your favourite Christmas foods?