Mince Pies

Mince pie tower
Mince pie tower

I never really liked mince pies as a child. Not because I didn’t like the taste. But more because of the appearance of the mincemeat. You’ve got to admit, it’s not particularly attractive! It took me until my early teenage years to be convinced to try one. When I finally did, I wished I hadn’t been so fussy. I was a convert!

Like I mentioned in my mincemeat post, I’ve been making my own for the past four years after a couple of Christmases making mince pies with shop bought filling. As I was already making my own pastry, I thought I might as well go the whole hog and make everything from scratch.

Hot pies just out of the oven
Hot pies just out of the oven

Hopefully some of you have also had a go making my mincemeat. I can guarantee you’ll love mince pies even more than you already do if you make your own. If you haven’t made any, but still fancy making some mince pies, go and buy yourself a decent shop bought mincemeat as I’ve got a lovely crumbly pastry for you to try.

My pastry is basically a sweet shortcrust with a little of the flour substituted with ground almonds to give a crumbly texture, and clementine zest for an extra Christmassy flavour. It’s relatively easy to handle so long as you chill it for a while. I don’t use any extra flour when rolling it out to preserve the texture of the pastry. I tried rolling it out on greaseproof paper this year – this definitely makes it easier to lift off the surface. If it does stick, use a palette or large bladed knife to help ease it off.

Christmassy clementines
Christmassy clementines

I normally make simple looking pies with a round top. At a friend’s house for dinner on Friday however, someone got a holly leaf shaped pastry cutter in their Christmas cracker and very kindly gave it to me. Hence the look of this years mince pies!

Right, I’m off to eat another one. Enjoy yours!

Mince Pies (makes approx. 20)

These pies didn't last long!
These didn’t last long!

350g plain flour
225g cold butter
100g ground almonds
100g golden caster sugar
2 egg yolks
Zest of 2 clementines
Approx. 800g mincemeat
1tbsp icing sugar

Pre–heat your oven to 200ºC

Put the flour in a bowl. Grate or cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour until it’s the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. You can also do this in a food processor.

Stir in the ground almonds, sugar and clementine zest.

Add the egg yolks and a couple of tablespoons of very cold water. Use your hands to bring the mixture together, and knead gently for a couple of minutes.

Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly grease a bun tin (I use a tin with 12 holes and bake in two batches) with butter. Cut strips of baking paper approx. 1–2cm wide and 12cm long to lay across each bun hole. This will help you to get your mince pies out once they’re done without damaging the pastry.

When you’re ready to make your mince pies, roll out two thirds of the pastry to a thickness of approx. 3mm, and use a pastry cutter or a glass to cut out some rounds.

Line each bun hole with a pastry round, and gently press in to remove any air bubbles beneath the pastry. Press the pastry up to the top edge of the bun hole.

Fill each one with a couple of heaped teaspoons of mincemeat. Be generous!

Cut out smaller rounds (or festive shapes) from the remaining pastry and lay these over the top. Gently press down at the edges to seal. Prick a small hole in the top of each pie if using rounds. Glaze with egg or milk if you wish. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until golden.

Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before attempting to remove the pies. Use the edges of the baking paper to help lift out the pies and allow to cool. Sift a little icing sugar over the top and enjoy!

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