I love mince pies. It’s only really acceptable to eat them around Christmastime and the fact they aren’t a year round treat makes them all the more delicious. I made Nigella’s cranberry mincemeat last year, it was alright for a change but I prefer darker more traditional mincemeat. I used two types of pastry; some leftover from a bakewell tart and some that was specifically for mince pies. The mince pie pastry was much richer and shorter and the soft almond flavour really complimented the fruitiness of the mincemeat.
For the mincemeat:
- 275g currants
- 100g tart dried cherries
- 250g raisins
- 100g dried fruit
- 1 bramley apple
- 2 dessert apples (bog standard eating apples)
- 1 lemon – Zest and juice
- 50g butter
- 250ml stout
- 3 tbsp rum or brandy (or to your own taste)
- 300g brown sugar
- 1 tsp each of ground mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (you can change the spices up as you like but I really liked this combination in my Christmas cake so used it here too.)
Tip: Don’t use a normal apple in place of bramley apple as it won’t fall apart and make that lovely thick sauce.
Peel, core and grate your bramley apple
Heat the apple in a pan along with the brown sugar and stout.
Bring to the boil then simmer gently until the apple has started to dissolve making a lovely thick sauce.
While that’s simmering peel, core and finely dice your dessert apples (cox, braeburn, royal gala whatever you fancy).
Add your chopped apples, fruit, spices and finally butter to the saucepan.
Continue to gently heat until you have a thick mincemeat.
Allow the mincemeat to cool until just warm before adding your brandy or rum, stir well and let it cool completely before making the pies.
You can use this mincemeat immediately or store it for a while. I left mine for a couple of days before making mince pies but that’s because I didn’t have time on the day.
For the pastry:
- 75 caster sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100g butter
- 75 – 100g cream cheese
- 50g almonds
Just as you would with normal pastry start by rubbing together the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder.
Once that’s well rubbed in and you have fine crumbs, add the cream cheese and almonds and repeat until you have a smooth dough.
Chill your dough for at least 30 minutes before using.
Once chilled roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper, I find this easiest because it doesn’t stick – I lightly dust the sheets with icing sugar as well.
Roll it out to be about ½ cm thick.
I made 8 mince pies from this pastry but could have easily made 10 even with the holly decoration.
Using a circular cutter (or the bottom of an appropriate sized cup if you haven’t got one) cut out circles of pastry big enough to line your muffin/bun tin– approximately 8 – 10 cm depending on what kind of tin you use.
Use a slightly smaller cutter, or cup, to cut the same number of tops for your pies.
At this point the pastry has been quite worked and is a bit soft so I chilled mine in the fridge for 5 minutes before pressing it into the tins.
Spoon in your mincemeat, most bakers say ¾ full but my pies were quite shallow so I did them right to the brim. I ‘ve said it before about fruity pies, there’s nothing worse than a lack of fruit! I don’t want a mince pie with barely there mincemeat.
Dip your finger in cold water and run it along the edges of the pastry before pressing the tops of the pies on and pinching to seal.
Make a couple of little slits in the tops of the pies a knife to allow steam come out of the pies as they cook (you might end up with soggy tops if you don’t).
I decorated mine with bits of leftover pastry, but you could just as easily leave them undecorated and dust with icing sugar once cooked.
Cook for 20 – 25 minutes at 200C
Pastry is very temperamental in my oven so I stuck to the minimum cooking time and checked them a lot. Luckily they were a success, there wasn’t a soggy bottom in sight.