I have to admit, I’m very picky about my mince pies. In my book, the less pastry, the better – the filling is my favourite bit. The vast majority of shop-bought pies just aren’t quite up to my standard – snobbish, I know, but the home-made ones are so much better…
Despite this being my 4th Christmas whilst actually living in the UK, I still get a little bit excited about being able to just buy mincemeat in the supermarket instead of having to track it down in some special expat shop or asking people going to the UK to bring some back if they can. Outside the UK, mince pies tend to be few and far between. Depending on where we lived, mincemeat (which, by the way, doesn’t have any meat in it whatsoever) ranged from wallet-shatteringly expensive to non-existent, so we generally only got mince pies if were in Scotland for Christmas.
Having said that, my Scottish grandparents spent Christmas with us once in Norway and brought about half a suitcase of mincemeat with them. My grandma, mum and I must have spent the whole day in the kitchen, and that’s the first time I’d ever help make mince pies before (for the record, mine were a disaster). I’ve had my grandma’s recipe ever since and, after a lot of practice, I’ve somehow ended up as the unofficial family mince pie-baker…
Makes about 36 small mince pies (with lids)
Adapted from my grandma’s recipe.
The drizzle is completely optional – once cool, you can just sprinkle them with a bit of sugar instead or just leave them as they are.
250g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 jars mincemeat
For the drizzle (optional):
100g icing sugar
7-8 tsp Cointreau
To make the pastry:
1. Rub the flour, baking powder and butter together to make fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and the spices.
2. Add the egg and knead together to form a dough.
3. Split the pastry and roll out thinly (splitting it makes it a lot easier to roll out, and the thickness of the pastry depends on personal preferences – I like lots of filling so I tend to roll the pastry out as thinly as I can get away with).
To make the mince pies:
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C. Butter some muffin/cupcake/pie tins.
5. Using a round cutter (I use one with a crimped edge, just because it looks prettier) cut out circles of an appropriate diameter to fit the muffin tins, and use a star cutter (or a smaller round cutter if you want proper lids – I like using stars because they look a bit different) to cut out an equal number of lids.
6. Line the tins with the pastry circles and prick with a fork.
7. Spoon in some mincemeat, but not right up to the top (it will bubble over).
8. Lay the stars over the top and press the ends down to the edge of the pastry casings. (If you’re using circles as lids, brush with a little milk so that the lids stick, and cut three slits in the top to prevent the pies exploding).
9. Bake for about 12 mins and cool on a wire rack.
To make the drizzle (optional):
10. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl, add the Cointreau and whisk together to form a smooth paste.
11. Once the pies have fully cooled, spoon the icing into a piping bag with a small nozzle and pipe the icing across the tops of the mince pies in a squiggle. Leave to set for about 10 mins.
I told you they were better than the shop-bought ones, didn’t I?