Christmas baking is now in full swing! One recipe for a traditional British Christmas that can’t be forgotten is for mince pies.
For anyone not familiar with the concept of mincemeat, there is definitely no real meat in sight. Mince meat historically did include meat but over time this has been replaced with suet instead. Mincemeat is a combination of dried fruits, suet and spices
For my recipe, I have used ready made mincemeat from the supermarket but I add a little brandy to the mixture and a little extra sprinkle of spices to enhance the flavour. Maybe next year I will have a go at making my own mincemeat from scratch (once I have graduated from my Masters course and have more time again!).
These pies usually go down a storm at home and at the office, so I hope you enjoy them too if you have a go at making them yourself.
Short crust pastry ingredients: 375g plain flour 125g caster sugar 250g softened unsalted butter 1 medium egg For the mince meat: 400g mince meat 1 tablespoon brandy, 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a pinch of mixed spice. Extras: Pastry cutters Milk (and a pastry brush)
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (180 fan oven) and prepare a muffin tin by greasing each cup with a little butter.
2. In a bowl, mix together the flour and sugar. Add the butter in cubes, then rub it into the flour until the mixture has a sandy texture. I like to lift as I rub the butter to make it more crumbly!
3. Add the egg and mix it in just until it forms a smooth ball of dough. You can add a splash of cold water if there is still quite a bit of the loose crumble mixture. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
4. While the pastry is chilling, prepare the mince meat. Put your mince meat in to a bowl, add the brandy and spices and mix. Leave this to sit while the pastry is in the fridge.
5. Tip the unwrapped pastry on to a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it is about half a centimetre thick.
I don’t have a lot of space in my kitchen so I tend to cut the pastry in half and use the first half for the bases and the other for the tops.
6. Using a round pastry cutter about 98mm in diameter to cut out 12 circles. Using a slightly smaller cutter, about 78 mm, cut out another 12 circles.
The pie base circle should almost reach the top of the muffin cup and the lid circle should cover the pie completely.
7. Lay one of the larger circles over the muffin cup and gently push down until it fits in to the cup. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pie. Repeat this for all 12 cups.
8. Fill each pie with about a teaspoon of mince meat. This should reach to just below the line of the pastry case.
9. Using a small amount of milk, brush this around the top edges of each pie.
10. Top each pie with the smaller circles, pressing down the edges gently with your fingers. Brush the tops of the pies with a little more milk.
11. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow the pies to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes after baking before putting them on a cooling rack and dusting with a little icing sugar.
And there you have your mince pies!
I like to use leftover pastry to cut out small stars which I add after brushing the pies with milk and then giving them a little brush too before baking.
I also like to use a mini muffin tin to make mini pies using stars as lids and baking for just 15 minutes.