Saturday, 5 November 2011

Christmas Kitchen - Mince Pies

Good Morning and welcome to my first Christmas Kitchen post.  Earlier this week I discovered a jar of mincemeat in the cupboard and as it was now November I thought it seemed only right to make a batch of mince pies. Obviously they didn't last long in my house but mince pies can be frozen once they are cooked and cooled, so are perfect for a make ahead Christmas staple. 

Over the years I have developed my own sweet pastry recipe, which I will share with you today.  However you can use ready to roll pastry available in the fridge and freezer sections at the supermarket, infact I think you can even buy sweet pastry these days!   So grab an apron and your rolling pin and lets's make mince pies.


250g Self Raising Flour (and extra for dusting your board & rolling pin)
125g Butter
2 tbsp Light Muscavado Sugar
2tbsp Cold Water
Jar of Mincemeat


Mixing Bowl
Palette Knife
Kitchen Scales
Bun Tin (like you would use for fairy cakes)
Round Pastry Cutter (or a small plastic cup would work)
Small Holly Leaf Cutter (or other christmas shapes or smaller round cutter)
Rolling Pin
Mat or Board to roll our your pastry

This recipe makes about 12 mince pies

1. Put your flour and butter into your mixing bowl and rub together to make fine breadcrumbs.  I'm     always telling my children you just need your fingertips not your whole hands to make a breadcrumb mixture!  Once you think you're done give the bowl a little shake and any large lumps will rise to the top so you can rub these in too.

2. Using your fingers stir the sugar in to the breadcumb mixture.  Muscavado sugar does tend to be a little lumpy so will need to be rubbed in to your breadcrumbs.  For a lighter pastry try using icing sugar instead.

3. Now add one tbsp of cold water and stir into the breadcrumb mixture using a palette knife.  I guess you could use a metal spoon but I have always used a metal pallette knife.  Add the second tablespoon of cold water and stir in to your mixture.  It may now be necessary to bring the mixture together with your hands.  If the mixture is a little too crumbly add a few drops of cold water, but only add tiny amounts as this can make a big difference in the texture of your pastry. 

4. Sprinkle some flour on your mat or board and your rolling pin.  Take half of your pastry and roll out to about 5mm (1/2cm) thickness.  Cut out as many circles as you can and put these in to your bun tray.  Pop the bits of pastry back into a ball and roll out again and cut out circles again. 

5. Once you have filled your bun tray with pie bases add roughly a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pie.  The trick is not to overload your pie bases!

6. Roll out some more pastry and cut your pie tops.  I prefer to have little christmas shapes, like bells, christmas trees or holly leaves and found my tiny cutters in a kitchen shop for about 50p each.  However you can make smaller circle tops for your mince pies if you prefer.  Pop your pie tops on top of the mincemeat filled pie bases.

7. Put the tray of mince pies into the oven for about 15-20 mins on 160 degrees C (that's for a fan oven), so 180 for a normal electric oven and gas mark 4.  The pastry should be a golden brown colour when cooked. 

(these were golden brown honest!)

8. Leave the mince pies to cool in their tray for a short while, about 10 minutes is fine, then remove from the tray and pop on a cooling tray.  Don't worry if one accidentaly breaks as you get it out of hte tim and you have to eat it! 

Once cooled the mince pies should be stored in an airtight container and will last for at least a week.  Alternatively you can freeze them in a box or bag for a month or two. 

These mince pies are delicious warm and served with brandy butter or cream. 

Other ideas for your mince pies

When you have made your breadcrumbs keep a small amount aside and use these as a crumble topping instead of a pie top.

Add a small ball of marzipan to your mince pies before putting their tops on.

Add extra cherries and/or nuts to your jar of mincemeat. 

Bake your mince pies open then add a circle of fondant icing as a top when the pies have cooled.

To make a bigger batch the general rules for pastry are half fat to flour, a tbsp of sugar for each 125g of flour and a tablespoon of cold water for each 125g of flour.

I hope you have fun making these, they really are delicious.  I'm off now to prepare the dried fruit and nuts for our Christmas Cake and leave them to soak in brandy over night ready to make the cake tomorrow.

Have a fab Saturday,

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