Perfect mince pies
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Stir Up Sunday encouraged many of us to get into the kitchen with our kids to mix up the Christmas pudding ahead of Christmas Day, putting us all in the mood for festive flavours and Christmas cheer.
Now’s also a great time to get ahead by making a homemade Christmas cake, letting the flavours mature and develop through December, and leaving you with plenty of time to think about how to decorate it. Another festive favourite is the good old mince pie, traditionally made with dried fruits soaked in brandy, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, all mixed with suet, a little chopped apple and a twist of lemon and orange citrus zest. The British mince pie is in fact one of our oldest sweet pies and its origins can be traced as far back as the 13th century, originally inspired by Middle Eastern recipes made with meat, fruit and spices. In more recent times, there have been many modern twists – and of course, these days, there’s no actual meat involved! Here are a few new ideas for you to try.
A traditional mince pie is made with a crumbly, sweet shortcrust pastry, but I’ve also seen them made with puff pastry (for a slightly lighter, flakier texture) or even with filo pastry. For something a little different, try Jamie’s gluten-free mince pies with crumbly pastry, filled with mincemeat, topped with flaked almonds and lightly dusted with icing sugar. Although it might be tempting to buy a packet of mince pies from the shops, you really can’t beat pulling your own fresh batch out of the oven, served ever-so-slightly warm with a little fresh cream on the side.
If you like shortcrust pastry but are looking for an alternative topping to a shortcrust lid, you could make a crumble topping. For inspiration, you can use the topping in this apple crumble recipe and simply scatter a teaspoon of the crumble mix over your mincemeat before baking. An almond-spiked frangipane topping works well too, inspired by the topping on another British classic; the Bakewell tart.
If you really want to produce a mince pie with a ‘wow factor’, have a look at these Baked Alaska mince pies, made with a shortcrust pastry base, filled with mincemeat, ice-cream and a quick meringue topping briefly browned under a grill. Your Christmas guests will be seriously impressed by these and the ice cream on the inside provides an unexpected surprise!
If you’ve made up a batch of your own mincemeat and have any leftover after your own kitchen creations, you could always add a couple of spoonfuls to a basic cupcake mixture to make mince pie cupcakes. Or for a time-saving, sweet mincemeat twist on a filo spring roll, use a packet of prepared filo pastry squares, each filled with mincemeat, rolled into a classic cigar shape and brushed with melted butter before baking. Delicious!
For more sweet Christmas recipe ideas, take a look at some of the other recipes within the Christmas cakes and puddings section on the site.
The secret to perfect homemade mince pies
If you&rsquore among the die-hard Christmas foodies who love a homemade mince pie, you&rsquoll already have an opinion on lattice-topped over enclosed, puff over shortcrust, warm over cold and cream over brandy sauce. But whatever your preference, there are some tricks to ensure you get a perfect result.
Do I need to make my own mincemeat?
Some people swear by homemade mincemeat &ndash and there are lots of different recipes, including those that are suitable for vegetarians and those that include suet, a meat-based fat. Making mincemeat ahead of time gives it an opportunity to mature and for the flavour to deepen. It can be made up to six months in advance if stored in jars in a cool, dark place. Don&rsquot worry if you&rsquore making it last minute, though &ndash it&rsquos perfectly enjoyable straightaway. If you're keeping it simple, there are plenty of good ready-made mincemeats available too.
What alcohol should I use?
Brandy, rum, whisky, cointreau, sloe gin, port &ndash all the seasonal liqueurs complement dried fruits, so go with whichever you like the most. Bear in mind what you&rsquoll be serving the mince pies with, if anything. Rum sauce or brandy butter might not be a great match for sloe gin, for example. If you&rsquore serving them with cream or custard, it won&rsquot matter. If you&rsquore making your own mincemeat and using a recipe that requires the fruit to be cooked, add the alcohol afterwards.
Do I need to make my own pastry too?
Not everyone wants to go to the bother of making pastry from scratch but, if you do, you might want to choose a sweet pastry recipe. Good news, though: it&rsquos perfectly acceptable to use ready-made pastry: the results are just as good and it saves a lot of time.
Boozy mince pies
This buttery homemade mince pie recipe is a classic &ndash and a touch of whisky gives it a festive kick.
Mince pie puff
Want to try something a bit different? Make one giant mince pie and slice it up &ndash and yes, you can cut an extra big slice for yourself.
Luxury mince pies with cranberries
These might look like standard mince pies, but they contain both cranberries and chocolate chips. What are you waiting for?
The Perfect Mince Pie Recipe by Nigel Slater
Nigel Slater shares his favourite mince pie recipe, simple but elegant and perfect for your Christmas baking.
Shortcrust, sweetcrust, rough puff or puff? There is no traditional answer so it becomes a matter of choice. But let us go back a bit. The early pies were savoury, the pastry made with lard rather than butter. As someone who will take any opportunity to eat any part of the pig, I often swap some of the butter for lard.
Using a sweet paté brisée, the French sweet shortcrust, is surely pushing the sugar bag too far. Puff and rough puff doughs introduce a welcome lightness and is what I would use if my handiwork is to be eaten the day it is made. Neither keep well. Even stored in a biscuit tin the crust tends to toughen up overnight. Rolled thinly and eaten no more than an hour or two after halting, a puff pastry mince pie can be exquisite, warm and crisp and buttery and as fragile as a butterfly.
My go-to crust is made with halfbutter and halflard, and no sugar. I roll the dough as thinly as I dare and ensure that the bottom is always slightly thicker than the top. As good as thin pastry is, we must never forget it also has a job to do. Many a mince pie is eaten without a plate.
A classic, simple mince pie, devoid of bells, whistles and creative meddling. The pastry is a rich but workable shortcrust. It won’t collapse in the carol singer’s mittens. The pies themselves will stand or fall by the quality of mincemeat. Go for broke, Christmas is not the time for parsimony. The little darlings are at their most delicious when eaten warm. Baked a day or more before, they reheat nicely.
– 75g unsalted butter
– 75g lard
– 150g plain flour
– 1 egg yolk
– a little cold water
– 375g good-quality mincemeat
– icing sugar, for dusting
– 12-hole tartlet tin, each hole measuring 6cm x 2cm deep
NB: It is best to bake the pies in a batch of twelve, then a second of six.
1. Cut the butter and lard into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until you have what looks like coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. If you do this in the food processor it will take a matter of seconds.
2. Add the egg yolk, then mix briefly with just enough water to bring to a smooth dough. You will probably need only one or two tablespoons. Bring the dough together into a firm ball, then knead it gently on a floured board for a couple of minutes until it softens.
3. Reserve half of the dough, then roll the remainder out thinly.
4. Set the oven at 200°C/Gas 6.
5. Using cookie cutters or the top of an espresso cup, cut out eighteen discs of pastry: (There may be a tiny bit left over.) Place twelve discs of the pastry in the tartlet tins, reserving six for the second batch, smoothing them up the sides so the edges stand very slightly proud of the tin.
6. Fill each one with a dollop of mincemeat. A level tablespoon is probably all you will get into them, unless you have especially deep tins. Be generous.
7. Roll out the reserved pastry with any leftover trimmings and make a further eighteen discs of pastry, reserving six again. Slightly dampen each of these round the edge with cold water then lay them over each tart and press firmly to seal the edges.
8. Using the point of a small kitchen knife cut a small slit in the centre of each pie and bake for twenty minutes until golden.
9. Let them cool for a few minutes, then slide them out of their tins with a palette knife and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar. Repeat with the remaining pastry discs and mincemeat.
From the BBC1 presenter and bestselling author of Eat, The Kitchen Diaries and Toast comes a new book featuring everything you need for the winter solstice. The Christmas Chronicles is the story of Nigel Slater’s love for winter, the scent of fir and spruce, ghost stories read with a glass of sloe gin, and beeswax candles with shadows dancing on the ceiling. With recipes, decorations, fables and quick fireside suppers, Nigel guides you through the essential preparations for Christmas and the New Year, with everything you need to enjoy the winter months.
Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles is published by Harper Collins and is available to purchase here.
Our Mini Mince Pie Recipe
While mince pies are often small tarts, we&rsquore calling this recipe &ldquomini&rdquo because we make them in mini-muffin tins.
These mince pies truly are two bite treats, and are the perfect size to make them right at home on a Christmas cookie platter.
They are the perfect way to bring a little taste of a British Christmas to your celebrations!
If you&rsquore a fan of mincemeat (or if you have some of your jar left after making mince pies), try your hand at these mincemeat muffins or thumbprint mincemeat cookies!
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, and diced
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins
- ¾ cup dried currants
- 4 tablespoons chopped candied orange peel
- 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground mace
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated dough for a double-crust pie, defrosted
- 1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Combine apples, brown sugar, raisins, golden raisins, currants, orange peel, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, mace, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Mix together and bring to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest setting on your stovetop. Simmer, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the heat and leave to cool while you prepare your pastry.
Unroll pie crusts onto a flat surface. Cut into 24 circles using a cookie cutter or the bottom of a mug.
Place a circle into the bottom of each cup of a 12-cup cupcake tin. Fill each of the pastry circles with fruit filling. Brush the edges of the pastry with some of the beaten egg and cover with the remaining circles. Brush all of the mince pies with more beaten egg.
Recipe: Perfect Easy Shortbread Mince Pies
Easy Shortbread Mince Pies. These Christmas mince pies are super easy and make a great alternative to the traditional mincemeat recipe. Put an imaginative twist on your classic mince pie recipe this Christmas by adding shortbread pastry. Here's an easy mince pie recipe for the Christmas period :D Enjoy my baking videos?
These easy mince pies are taken to the next level with the addition of dark chocolate chips. Almond pastry, shortbread topping and a fruity filling make up these delicious mince pies. Made of three ingredients, this simple shortbread crust is easy works for pies, cheesecakes, tarts, and so many other desserts. You can have Easy Shortbread Mince Pies using 7 ingredients and 9 steps. Here is how you achieve that.
Ingredients of Easy Shortbread Mince Pies
- Prepare 225 of g/8oz cold butter, diced.
- It's 350 of g/12oz plain flour, sifted.
- You need 100 of g/3.5oz golden caster sugar.
- You need Pinch of salt.
- You need 280 of g/10oz mincemeat.
- You need 1 of small egg.
- You need of icing sugar, to dust.
Just three ingredients is all you'll need to make this shortbread crust. They are most likely ingredients that you already have stocked in your pantry, too! Click for the easy step by step picture recipe & you'll never look back! Nothing screams Christmas more than Mince Pies right?!
Easy Shortbread Mince Pies instructions
- In a large bowl, add the cold diced butter to the sifted flour..
- To make the pastry, rub together with your fingers until combined. Then mix in 100g golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt..
- Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add liquid – and knead it briefly. The dough will be fairly firm, like shortbread dough. You can use the dough immediately, or chill for later..
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C/392F. Line 18 holes of two 12-hole patty tins, by pressing small walnut-sized balls of pastry into each hole..
- Spoon 280g mincemeat into the pies..
- Take slightly smaller balls of pastry than before and pat them out between your hands to make round lids, big enough to cover the pies. Top the pies with their lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal – you don’t need to seal them with milk or egg as they will stick on their own. (The pies may now be frozen for up to 1 month)..
- Beat 1 small egg and brush the tops of the pies..
- Bake for 20 mins until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins, then remove to a wire rack..
- To serve, lightly dust with icing sugar. They will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container..
This is how to make lovely mince pies without any stress. The pastry is super easy to work with and a delight to eat. Place in lightly greased patty tins and spoon the mincemeat evenly into the pies. Re-roll the leftover pastry and cut out round lids, stars or other festive shapes to fit on top of the mincemeat. Dan Lepard's vegan-friendly gluten-free avocado Christmas cake (Recipe here).
Make the perfect mince pie pastry with this secret ingredient
Flaky, buttery and perfectly spiced: try your hand at these professional-standard pies Credit: Ravneet Gill
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T here is still plenty of time to make mince pies before Christmas, and whether you have made your own mincemeat or prefer to use a shop-bought version, you should try making this pastry to encase it.
When I worked as a pastry chef at Llewelyn’s restaurant in Herne Hill, south London, I held a full-on mince pie tasting session for all the chefs and Alcides, the general manager, presenting them with many different styles. The version made with cream cheese in the pastry came out as the overall winner and I haven’t looked back since.
The butter and cream cheese together give the pastry a really short, flaky texture which is perfect for this application. Just make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature so it can be mixed easily together with the butter, and don’t overwork the dough too much.
Enjoy the mince pies with brandy butter or cream, ideally while they’re nice and warm.
Mince pies with cream cheese pastry
Prep time: 50 minutes, plus 2 hours 20 minutes chilling | Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
The perfect mince pie recipe
One of our favourite Xmas treats – Mince pies are easy to make, so have a go at homemade this year! This recipe is courtesy of Nigel Slater in the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/dec/22/foodanddrink.shopping
A classic, made with rich shortcrust and eaten warm. After trying every new-fangled version, I reckon it is pretty much the perfect mince pie. Makes 18 small pies.
150g unsalted butter
300g plain flour
1 egg yolk
a little cold water
375g good-quality mincemeat
icing sugar for dusting
You will also need a 12-hole tartlet tin, each hole measuring 6cm x 2cm deep. It is best to bake the pies in one batch of 12, then a second one of six.
Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until you have what looks like coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. If you do this in the food processor it will take a matter of seconds. Add the egg yolk, then mix briefly with just enough water to bring to a smooth dough. You will probably need just 1 or 2 tablespoons. Bring the dough together into a firm ball, then knead it gently on a floured board for a couple of minutes until it softens. Reserve half of the dough, then roll the remainder out thinly. Set the oven at 200°C/gas mark 6.
Using cookie cutters or the top of an espresso cup, cut out 18 discs of pastry. (There may be a tiny bit left over.) Place 12 discs of the pastry in the tartlet tins, smoothing them up the sides so the edges stand very slightly proud of the tin. Fill each one with a dollop of mincemeat. A level tablespoon is probably all you will get into them, unless you have especially deep tins. Be generous. Roll out the remaining pastry and make a further 18 discs of pastry, reserving 6 of them for the second batch. Slightly dampen each of these round the edge with cold water then lay them over each tart and press firmly to seal the edges.
Cut a small slit in the centre of each pie and bake for 20 minutes till golden. Let them calm down for a few minutes, then slide them out of their tins with a palette knife and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar. Repeat with the remaining pastry and mincemeat.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. To make the sweet pastry, rub the flour, butter, sugar and egg together with a splash of cold water until it just comes together as a dough. Do not over work the dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and set aside to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
To make the filling, turn the mincemeat out into a bowl, grate the zest of the tangerines into the mincemeat, then peel and chop the fruit. Throw the tangerine and apple pieces into the bowl and blend by hand.
Roll out the pastry to a 3mm/1/8in thickness. With a round pastry cutter, cut out 6 x 9cm/3½in discs of pastry. Press the pastry into the muffin cups and fill each one with a good helping of the mincemeat mixture, so that it reaches three-quarters of the way up the side of the pastry-lined cup.
With a fluted pastry cutter, cut out 6 x 8cm/3¼ in pastry circles for the lids (slightly bigger than the top of the muffin cups). Place a lid on top of each pie and gently push down. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with fresh cream.
Minced Beef and Onion Pies
Minced Beef and Onion Pies are a satisfying and comforting meal when served with mushy peas and mashed potato. Ground beef cooked with onions, carrots and delicious flavorings all wrapped in a flaky, homemade pastry.
With a double, top and bottom crust. These individual pies are just classic English comfort food.
If you&rsquore familiar with British cuisine, you&rsquoll know we like our savory meat pies and this is the perfect recipe that reflects this. You can make these pies ahead and freeze them.
Also known as savory mince pies (or savoury mince pies if you&rsquore in the U.K.), different from the popular sweet mince pies (< click for recipe) that are served at Christmas time that are filled with a sweet mincemeat filling.
These pies are the typical pies that you will find in any high street bakery and are a popular quick, warm lunch on-the-go.
Mince pies in the UK are similar to savory hand pies in the US. They come in individual sizes (these are 5-inch/13 cm rounds) as they are a popular on-the-go lunch that are sold in bakeries, which is how I made them for this recipe.
It can also be made family style in a 9-inch/23 cm pie pan. Just slice and serve.
Wrap the unbaked pies well in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and then into ziptop bags. Defrost in the fridge overnight and cook as instructed in the recipe. Serve with a side of mashed potato and mushy peas, it doesn&rsquot get anymore British than this.
The filling is similar to shepherds pie. Starting with ground beef, chopped onions and carrots all cooked with a beef stock and tomato paste with Worcestershire sauce to make a rich beefy filling. Traditionally carrots are not added, but I like to add them for sweetness and it gives the filling some color.
After simmering the meat and vegetables, it&rsquos important to strain any liquid and fat to prevent getting soggy pies. It&rsquos also important to let the mixture cool before adding it to the pastry.
For this recipe I chose to make individual pies in 5-inch/13 cm round pie pans. There is pastry on the bottom as well as the top because in England we don&rsquot serve the pies in the dish, they are removed and served right on the plate. Don&rsquot forget to serve with a side of mushy peas (see pic below).
This homemade pie dough recipe is so light, so flaky and buttery. So easy to make and turns out perfectly every time. It is my go-to recipe for all my savory and sweet pastries like:
These pies keep so well refrigerated for about 3 days. K eep any leftover pies in the tin, that way you can re-heat at 350°F/177°F for about 20-25 minutes. The pastry will stay flaky and light and will be as if you had just made it.
Another popular side dish to serve with savory pies is British Baked Beans (< click text for recipe). Made from scratch using dried beans and baked in a flavorful tomato sauce.
Make up the pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rubbing the fats into it until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Then add just enough cold water to mix to a dough that leaves the bowl clean. Leave the pastry to rest in a polythene bag in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, then roll half of it out as thinly as possible and cut it into two dozen 3 inch (7.5 cm) rounds, gathering up the scraps and re-rolling. Then do the same with the other half of the pastry, this time using the 2½ inch (6 cm) cutter.
Now grease the patty tins lightly and line them with the larger rounds. Fill these with mincemeat to the level of the edges of the pastry. Dampen the edges of the smaller rounds of pastry with water and press them lightly into position to form lids, sealing the edges. Brush each one with milk and make three snips in the tops with a pair of scissors. Bake near the top of the oven for 25-30 minutes until light golden brown.
Cool on a wire tray and sprinkle with icing sugar. When cool, store in an airtight container.