Mince pies at Christmas in the UK are inescapable. They start emerging at some point in early October (or even – horrors – late September), and by the start of December they’ve multiplied and bred across the shelves, swallowing all other baked goods in their path.
Which I don’t mind so much. I like mince pies. Bought ones are variable, though. The pastry is often too thick, making them claggy, or the mincemeat’s so sweet your eye starts twitching, or they’ve added fondant icing or marzipan for some unfathomable reason.
For that reason I prefer to make my own pastry and just use bought mincemeat. Which is lovely, and it never occurred to me to try making my own mincemeat until this year.
And it’s so ridiculously easy and tasty that I doubt I’ll ever buy it again. Especially as it made so much that I’m going to be able to pot it up in my extensive jar collection and give it away as gifts …
- 175 g / 1 cup / 6 oz currants
- 175 g / 1 cup / 6 oz raisins
- 175 g / 1 cup / 6 oz chopped dates
- 175 g / 1 cup / 6 oz dried cranberries
- 100 g / just under 2/3 cup / 3 ½ oz chopped dried apricots
- 100 g / ½ cup / 3 ½ oz coconut oil
- 110 g / ½ cup / just under 4 oz soft light brown sugar
- 110 g / ½ cup / just under 4 oz soft dark brown sugar
- 50 g / ½ cup / ¾ oz flaked almonds
- 2 medium apples, peeled and grated
- zest and juice of one orange
- 1 – 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, to taste
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a whole load of grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
- 240 mL / 1 cup alcohol or juice of choice (I actually used a ginger and lemongrass cordial, made up with water. It’s an excellent non-alcoholic option)
Combine everything except the alcohol/juice in a large saucepan and heat gently. Once the coconut oil has melted, continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the alcohol or juice. Decant into sterilised jars and seal. If you’ve used alcohol it’ll keep for months, if not you’ll still get a good month out of it.
Go forth and make mince pies! Or just give away jars as gifts, and let people make their own. You’ve already done the hard bit.
- 225g / 1 cup / 8 oz cold butter, diced
- 350g / just over 2 cups plain flour
- 100g / ½ cup light brown sugar
- 280g / a little more than 1 cup / 10 oz mincemeat
- 1 small egg
- Icing sugar to dust
Rub butter into flour until fully combined – you could do this in a food processor, but the less you work it the more delicate the pastry will be, so by hand is gentler.
Mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt, then work lightly into a ball (don’t add any liquid, even if it feels crumbly). The mix will be firm, and more like shortbread dough than pastry. You can use it immediately or chill for later.
Preheat oven to 200˚C. Using two mince pie tins (these are much shallower than muffin tins – about half the depth or even less. But I have used muffin tins before and just half-filled them, which worked okay, although getting them out was a bit tricky), press small balls of pastry (about a tablespoon) across the base and up the sides. Try to get the thickness as uniform as possible – the pastry is too soft to roll, so you’ll need to get your hands in there. You should get about 18, with enough left over for the tops.
Beat the egg and set aside. Spoon mincemeat into bases, then take slightly smaller scoops of pastry and pat them into lids in your hands. Top the pies with them and press edges together to seal – you can use the egg to help with this, and also give the tops a bit of a glaze. Alternatively, you can just dot scraps of pastry over the top of the pie rather than making a lid. These will spread to form a crumble-like top, which looks pretty and is lovely if you don’t like too much pastry.
If you’d like to freeze your pies, this is the moment! Otherwise bake for about 20 minutes or until pastry is golden, then let rest in the tins for five minutes or so before lifting them gently out with a knife or fish slice. They are delicate, but delectable.
A Toot Hansell Christmas Cracker recipe collection:
- Rose’s Rom Truffles
- Christmas Pudding Cupcakes
- Homity Pies
- Amaretti Espresso Biscuits
- Christmas Breakfast Muffins
- Welsh Rarebit
- Cranberry, Wensleydale & Walnut No-Knead Bread
- Yorkshire Puddings
- Mulled Apple Juice
- Mincemeat Sticky Buns
- Almond, Orange, & Cranberry Cake