Mince Pies

  • Yield : 24 mini or 16 medium-size mince pies
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  • 1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry, recipe follows
  • 9 ounces/250 g mincemeat (just over half a jar), or make your own, recipe follows
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Icing sugar (confectioners'), for dusting
  • 7 ounces/200 g plain flour, sifted
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces/100 g chilled butter, cubed
  • 1/2 to 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
  • 9 ounces/ 250 g shredded suet, or butter,chilled and grated
  • 10 ounces/275 g raisins
  • 10 ounces/275 g sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 10 ounces/275 g dried currants
  • 4 1/2 ounces/125 g Candied Peel, chopped, recipe follows
  • 1 pound, 7 ounces/650 g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 ounces/50 g nibbed (chopped) almonds, orchopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 2 1/2 fluid ounces/75 ml Irish whiskey or brandy
  • 5 oranges
  • 5 lemons
  • 5 grapefruit (or 15 of just one fruit)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds, 12 ounces/1.25 kg caster sugar


Step 1

Mince pies freeze very well, taking some of the headache out of all that Christmas preparation. If I make lots of these before Christmas, I freeze them raw and then cook them on the day. Cooked mince pies can be stored in a biscuit tin or airtight box and warmed through gently before serving. They are perfect with a glass of spicy mulled wine or a cup of coffee for a festive snack.

Step 2

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C/Gas mark 6. Brush the tin with melted butter. 

Step 3

On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to 1/8-inch/3 mm thick and, using the 2 1/2-inches/6 cm cutter, cut out 24 circles for the bases. Then use the smaller plain/fluted cutter or star cutter to cut-out 24 circles/stars for the lids. Re-roll the trimmings, if necessary. 

Step 4

Line the holes of the cake tin with the larger pastry rounds. Fill each base with a teaspoon mincemeat and top with one of the smaller rounds or stars. Brush the tops of the mince pies with the beaten egg. 

Step 5

Bake in the oven for 10 to 13 minutes until pale golden. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar (confectioners') to serve.

Step 6

This basic pastry is used in many popular recipes, from mince pies to quiches; it's also one of the easiest pastries to start with. The uncooked dough can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Step 7

Shortcrust Pastry: 

Step 8

Put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly. Add half the beaten egg and continue to whiz. You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be just moist enough to come together. If making by hand, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then, using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together. With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is about 3/4-inch/2 cm thick, then wrap in cling film or place in a plastic bag and leave in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or, if you are pushed for time, in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Variations: Sweet Shortcrust Pastry: In place of the pinch of salt, use 1 tablespoon icing sugar (confectioners'). Soured cream shortcrust pastry: Replace the egg with 2 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche, adding just enough to bring it together.

Step 9

This delicious mincemeat will keep happily in a cool dark place for at least a year. If you are making your own suet (the fat that surrounds the beef kidney), make sure that every trace of blood has been removed before you whiz it in the food processor, otherwise it will cause the mincemeat to go off.

Step 10


Step 11

Put the apple chunks in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon water, cover and cook over low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes until the apples are cooked down to a pulp. Allow to cool. 

Step 12

Mix the apples with the orange zest, orange juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, suet, raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel, dark brown sugar, almonds, mixed spice, and whiskey in a large bowl and put into sterilized jars.* Leave to mature, if possible for at least 2 weeks before using.

Step 13

Cut the fruit in 1/2 and squeeze out the juice. (Reserve the juice for another use, perhaps home-made lemonade.) Put the peel into a large bowl, add the salt and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 24 hours. 

Step 14

Next day, throw away the soaking water; put the peel in a large saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer very gently for about 3 hours or until the peel is soft. 

Step 15

Remove the peel from the pan and discard the water. Scrape out any remaining flesh and membrane from inside the cut fruit, using a teaspoon, leaving the white pith and rind intact. 

Step 16

In a clean large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in 1 3/4 pints/1 litre of water, then bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peel and simmer gently for 30 to 60 minutes until it looks translucent (shiny and 'candied') and the syrup forms a thread when the last drop falls off a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 20 to 30 minutes to slightly cool. 

Step 17

Put the candied peel into sterilized glass jars* and pour the syrup over. Cover and store in a cold place or in the refrigerator. It should keep, stored like this, for at least 3 months.

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