One of my favorite English christmas traditions that has stuck with my family over the years has to be these Mince Pies. Nothing tastes like Christmas like a bite of one of these. Once made, they never last very long around the house as I consider them a perfect replacement for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, tea time accompaniment and after dinner treat. Contrary to what you may think, these have nothing with meat and are sweet, not savory. They’re made with currants, raisins and candied peel mixed with a bit of apple, almonds and brandy. An extremely tasty combination!
Most of all these little pies play a huge role in our Christmas morning traditions. Once all of us in the family is awake, a large pot of tea is brewed, the fire lit and a big plate of Mince Pies are transfered to the living room where we all sit around the christmas tree and exchange presents taking a sip of tea and a bite of pie all the while. Somehow these things have all become intertwined and it’s just not christmas morning with out a bit of wrapping paper to tear open, a strong piping hot cup of tea and these sweet treats.
I must admit, these are made with store bought mincemeat from England. There are a few brands that I love and are perfect in a pinch. However, I have had quite a lot of success making mincemeat at home with this recipe from Delia Smith. It’s actually better than store bought, but just requires a bit of advanced planning. The effort is worth it as it lasts a long while if sealed. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, just as long as you make these in time for Christmas day!
- 10 oz plain flour
- 6 oz unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- ice cold water
- 12 oz prepared or pre-bought mincemeat
- 30 ml milk
- powdered sugar to decorate
To make the pastry, place the flour and butter in a large bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together until everything resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt and mix to evenly distribute. Adding about 3-4 tablespoons of water, one at a time, mix everything together until a ball is formed. Separate into the two balls and wrap each with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove one of the balls of pastry from the fridge and roll out as thinly as possible. Cut out with a 3 inch cutter (or one that fits your bun tin or cupcake tin). Roll out the second ball of pastry and cut out using a star shaped cutter. Line the tins with the rounds and fill each with a bit of mincemeat and top with a star. Place back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Remove the tins from the fridge. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the stars with a bit of milk. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly in the tins and then transfer carefully to a cooling rack. When cool sprinkle with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.