Mince Pies

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies in our family. My Dad loves mince pies so much that he starts stockpiling them in December, squirreling boxes away in their spare freezer, so that he has enough to last into the Summer!

One year I even made him his very own mince pie plate for Christmas. It took me hours to paint it but he appreciated my efforts at “pie art”.

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My sister lives in California and makes her kids something they call a Mince Pie “Pie”. It’s basically a huge open pastry crust pie filled with sweet mincemeat, then topped with individual smaller rounds of pastry. Her kids can’t get enough of their Mum’s special homemade pie.

When my Mum and Dad visit us in Scotland for Christmas, I always make a batch of my homemade mince pies…..regular topped pies, lattice mince pies, mini ones and star topped as my Dad likes all of them! I might also throw in a few designs with Christmas trees and angels made in pastry on top as well.

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I make my own luxury version of shortcrust pastry using butter and an egg yolk to add richness but if pastry making isn’t your thing then just buy some good quality ready made shortcrust pastry and it will do just fine.

I also recommend you buy the best sweet mincemeat you can or add a little brandy or fresh orange zest to the jar and stir it in to give it extra flavour. I have made my own mincemeat in the past but don’t always have the time, so shop bought is a great short cut.

Just a few more tips. When making pastry, make sure you include the chilling/rest stage in the fridge and don’t over handle the dough or it can make the pastry lose it’s light texture. Also, avoid the temptation to over fill your pies as the mincemeat will expand during cooking and spill out all over your cake tin, gluing the pies into their sockets! Finally, let the pies cool for a bit before tucking in to taste one, as the sugary filling can get really hot during cooking!

Here is my recipe which makes around 12 mince pies. As some of my pies were topped with just a small piece of shaped pastry using fancy cutters, I had a bit of pastry leftover and made a few mini pies as well.  I did trash my kitchen in the process, covering just about everything in flour and mincemeat but it’s actually pretty relaxing messing around with pastry and cutters for an hour.

Also, there is nothing nicer then the smell of fresh baking in your home. Just let your creative side go wild. Happy baking!

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Ingredients 

8oz or 225g of plain white flour
4oz or 110g of cold butter, cubed
1 egg, separated ( just use the yolk)
cold water to mix the dough
a few tablespoons of milk
a jar of good quality sweet mincemeat plus an optional splash of brandy stirred in!

Method

Rub the flour into the butter using your fingertips until, the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
Separate an egg and add the egg yolk plus enough cold water to bind the mixture to a soft pastry dough. I use a knife initially to mix gently ,then I bring the dough together using my hands
Dust a clean work surface with flour and turn the dough out then shape gently into a ball with your hands
Cover in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour

Butter a 12 cup cake or patty tin
Roll out the pastry dough fairly thinly onto a lightly floured surface
Cut 3 inch (7.5cm) rounds out using a pastry cutter and place into the cups
Fill each pastry case with some mincemeat to come just under the rim of the pastry
Gently scrunch up the pastry bits into a ball and roll out thinly again on a floured surface to cut the next lot of rounds out
Cut out several smaller 2.5 inch or 6cm rounds, dip each round in milk and place on top of each pastry case
As a variation, use a lattice rolling pin to make lattice pastry and cut rounds or use fancy cutters to cut different shapes such as stars, dip in milk then place on top of each open pie.

Bake at 200C or Gas Mark 6 for 25 min until the pastry is golden brown and completely cooked underneath. Lift one up to test.
Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold

You can also make in advance and freeze until you want them. Enjoy!

 

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