Mmmmmm Mince Pies
I’m just putting it out there; I LOVE mince pies.
One of the best things for me about the build up to Christmas is the smell of mincemeat gently bubbling inside a crispy pastry shell. Oh just thinking about it makes me want to sing carols and stuff my face with pies – not at the same time obviously, that would be gross.
For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, the humble mince pie is a singularly British concoction that starts to appear around mid-November, hangs around for the festive season then disappears for the rest of the year. It is a small sweet pastry shell filled, not with minced-meat, but with mincemeat. I hope that’s cleared that up.
I’ve been making my own mincemeat filling for a few years now, as it tastes so much better than shop bought, and of course you can monkey around with it till it tastes just how you like it .Home-made mincemeat is VERY easy to make, but rather time consuming so its best to prepare it reasonably well in advance. The joy of this is that when it comes to actually making the pies, it takes a matter of seconds to fill the pastry cases.
You also get to monkey around with the pastry shell. Some people favour puff pastry, but my preference is definitely shortcrust and of all the different types I’ve tried out, my absolute favourite for mince pies is sweet cinnamon pastry.
This is my favourite mince pie combination to date, I hope you enjoy.
(can be made up to 3 months in advance… definitely jar it and leave it overnight before baking. This recipe makes around 1kg.)
200g Apples ( peeled cored and finely diced)
100g shredded suet
175g Brown sugar
1 Orange ( rind and Juice)
1 Lemon ( rind and juice)
2 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp Armagnac
Simply put all of the ingredients, except the brandy and amaretto, into a large bowl, mix well and leave covered with a cloth for at least 12 hours.
Stir the mixture well and place in a large dish and bake at 120 degrees for 2- 2&1/2 hours ( dont let it get too dry).
Take it out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cooled stir in the brandy and amaretto and spoon into sterilised jars. Top with greaseproof paper and seal jars.
100g Butter (diced)
50g Cinnamon sugar*
1 Egg (beaten)
Icing sugar to roll out pastry and dust finished pies. .
(* if you don’t have any cinnamon sugar there is a method here, or you can add 1/4tsp ground cinnamon to regular granulated sugar)
Cut together the butter and flour until there are no large lumps left. I have this nifty little pastry blender gadget, but a knife works just as well, but a bit slower. Finish by rubbing the flour and butter through your fingers until the mixture looks like sand.
Add the sugar and mix well.
Gradually add the beaten egg and bring together with a fork. You only really need a few spoonfuls of the egg as you don’t want your pastry too wet. When it starts to go sticky on your fork use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. If its too dry add a little more egg, if it’s too wet add a little more flour. (reserve the remaining egg to brush the pastry).
Kneed well until smooth and crack free, place in a polythene bag and refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling.
When your Pastry is cold and a little stiff, sprinkle your work surface with icing sugar and roll out to desired thickness ( I like about 1/4cm). Cut a large circle and a star for each pie.
Grease and flour your baking tin ( I prefer to use a deep tin as this tends to minimise spillage from over boiling in the oven), lightly place your pastry circle into the tin then spoonabout 1&1/2 to 2 tsp of mincemeat into each case. Gently place your star on top and brush with beaten egg.
cook in a 200 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brow. Remove to a wire tray and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
When still warm, dust with icing sugar and eat immediately. You’ve waited long enough 🙂
You can serve with cream or crémé fraîche and i can assure you that they are just as tasty cold ( if they make it that far)