Recently I discovered that a warm home made mince pie bares no relation to it’s shop bought cousins. This is an easy recipe, which can be made even easier by buying ready made pastry. Making mince pies is also a lovely activity with a toddler, a fun way to get ready for Christmas together.
Every Christmas Dave sets himself a challenge to see how many mince pies he can eat. He eats them as a pudding after most suppers, finds them as a nice sweet finish to a lunch, or pops down another one as a mid afternoon snack. You can imagine he consumes a lot of mince pies. He doesn’t bother counting it’s not about numbers, it’s about enjoying lots of mince pies.
To be honest I’ve always just bought mince pies, they are so cheap and there always seems so much else to do at Christmas. But JP recently came back from nursery chatting about the mixing of biscuits he had done that done. He had clearly loved it, the biscuits had been so good that none came home. I was having a think of what I could cook with him. Then Dave announced that he thought we should have a Christmas mince pie do in the December with all our neighbours. I then knew what I was going to make with JP.
The first time we made the pastry in the food processor, so that JP could press the buttons as we watched the pastry come together. I put the flour in the food processor, JP added the butter and then he turned it on until a breadcrumb like mixture was formed. Then we poured in a little water, adding more until when with the blades whirring it the mixture formed last lumps. We poured it all onto a work surface and made it into a ball. Then we wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest. Resting the pastry in the fridge means the gluten in the flour can ‘relax’ and makes the pastry less lightly to shrink while cooking. After it rested JP had fun throwing some flour on the work surface before we rolled it out. We then cut out the bottoms for the mince pies and lined the mine pie tin tray with them. JP enjoyed this, he was less fussed about putting mincemeat in the pastry cases. We then cut out stars of pastry, which again he loved and then I put them ontop of the filled cases. We painted the stars with a little milk. I put them into the oven and 25 minutes later they were done. I took them out of the oven and let them cool a little in the tin before putting them on a cooling rack. We then had fun dusting them with icing sugar.
The first batches of mince pies came out well. The second time, I made the pastry by hand while JP was snoozing. But you could also just buy ready made shortcrust pastry to keep things super easy. When I rolled out the pastry, I tried to get it as thin as possible, 1mm thick is ideal. This was easier said than done with JP helping to roll out the pastry!
The other thing to note is I don’t overfill the pastry cases. I filled them no more than two thirds full. Otherwise it all spills out in the oven and sticks the pie to the tin.
Dave was rather suspicious of having stars on the top, rather than proper lids. But he has since decided that the stars mean that the mincemeat which isn’t covered with pastry takes on a lovely tacky quality. He has declared these the best mince pies he has had.
12 Mince pies
255g/9oz plain flour
OR 375g/13oz ready made shortcrust pastry
Makes 12 mince pies
1. Put the flour in a large bowl and then run in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Use enough cold water to combine the mixture into one lump of pastry. Wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/390°F/6 Gas Mark.
3. Dust a work surface with more flour and then roll out the pastry. Cut 12 discs, which will fit in your tin. I use a cutter 88mm/3 7/8” wide. Then cut out 12 tops, I like to use stars.
4. Put each disc into the tin and press down well with your finger. Fill 2/3 of the case with mincemeat and then top with a star. Repeat until the whole tin is complete. Brush the stars with a little milk. Put in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
5. Once the pastry is lightly browned leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes. Then put the pies onto a cooling rack and dust with icing sugar and serve while still warm.
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