Christmas without mince pies is unimaginable. Why? Mince pies have been eaten as part of a traditional British Christmas since as long ago as the 16th century. Then, they were made of meat but are now made with sweet mincemeat; a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices and brandy. So, they are pretty much part of the heritage of a British Christmas.
Have a look at this easy recipe for the rich, sticky, sweet fruits wrapped in pastry and you will see why they are so popular.
- 12 oz./350g all-purpose flour/plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 8 oz./225g butter (cubed or an equal mix of butter and lard)
- 1 beaten egg and cold water as needed (to bind the pastry)
- 1 jar of mincemeat (shop bought or homemade mincemeat, see notes below)
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Make the Pastry
Place the flour, butter, and salt into a large, clean bowl (or you can make this is a food processor)
Rub the butter quickly into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles rough sand.
Stir the egg into the mixture using a cold knife. The add cold water a teaspoon at a time and stir until the mixture binds but is not sticky.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes.
Assemble the Pies
Choose a muffin or bun tin for the size of the tart you want. Choose from a standard 12-cup muffin tin, down to small canapé size. The number of pies will depend on the size of cup you use.
Dust a work surface lightly with a little flour and roll out two-thirds of the pastry to 1/8"/3mm thick. Cut circles to line the cups of your tin, don't worry if the pastry doesn't come to the top.
Fill the pastry lined tins 2/3 full with mincemeat.
Roll out the remaining pastry to the same thickness and cut smaller circles to fit as lids on the tarts or to be decorative, cut stars or other fancy shapes.
Dampen the edges of the tart bases with a little cold water and press the lids on. Make a small hole in the surface of each pie with a small sharp knife to allow the steam to escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins (15 mins if making canape size) or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the icing sugar.
Mince pies are delicious served hot or cold on their own or with Brandy Butter., cream or even a good vanilla ice cream. They will keep well if placed in an airtight tin - up to seven days. Sometimes they benefit from a gentle warming in the oven before serving.
Notes on Making Mince Pies:
Shortcrust pastry is a traditional mince pie case, but some like puff pastry, you choose.
Homemade mincemeat is quick and easy to make and there are also many great commercial brands out there to use instead.