I love Christmas… Who doesn’t? I think the best thing about Christmas is the snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book, cup of tea or hot chocolate and a nice festive treat. Mince pies are definitely top of the list of festive treats, along with Christmas pudding (or “plump pudding” as we like to call it in our house for obvious reasons). There’s something about all those festive spices, beautiful nuts, dried fruit and a splash of good booze that makes them exactly what our bodies crave in these cold dreary months. If you haven’t made your own mince pies from scratch before, why not let this be the year that you start and dazzle your friends and family as they wonder what kind of domestic God/Goddess stands before them with fresh baked trays of happiness!
I decided to make my mince pies early this year and made 5 pots of mince meat last weekend to do me through the festive season. I am still using this mincemeat recipe that I created last year, as I just think it’s so juicy, has great flavour and a nice texture with the nuts too. It really does make a difference making your own mincemeat and it’s not hard at all, the mincemeat makes 5 jars and lasts for a few months so you really will get a good few trays of mince pies out of it. I highly recommend going old school on it, and making them from scratch, it will allow you to put in your little twists with your favourite spices, fruits, nuts and maybe a little more booze than normal! I tend to follow Jamie Oliver’s shortcrust recipe as I think it’s foolproof, it hasn’t failed me yet, but I put in more spices and flavourings to mine. This recipe makes 12 mince pies, but the pastry quantity makes enough for 24 regular sized mince pies (2 batches), as I tend to freeze the extra pastry which makes whipping up an extra batch when you have guests coming over all the more stress free. However, if you intend on only making just one batch over Christmas, just half the pastry ingredients.
These mince pies are little beauties and disappeared within a few hours of being made which is always a good sign, definitely give this easy little mince pie recipe a go and let me know what you think. And if you have any unusual additions that you like to pop in your pies, then leave a comment and let me know, I’m always looking for a little inspiration!
Ingredients (makes 12):
1 jar mincemeat (try my recipe here)
500g plain / cream flour
100g icing sugar
250g Irish butter cut into small cubes
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 large free range eggs
1 splash milk
1 egg beaten (for egg-washing the pastry)
Zest 1 orange
Zest 1 lemon
- Sieve the flour onto a clean work surface and then sieve the icing sugar on top of it, sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and lemon zest. Rub in the cubes of butter with your hands until you get a breadcrumb consistency. It helps to run your hands under cold water first so you don’t melt the butter. Sometimes rubbing the mixture quickly between the two palms of your hands help to get that consistency quickly too.
- When the crumb mixture is achieved crack in the eggs and add the splash of milk and work all the mixture together until you get your dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough or you will lose that nice short crumb to your pastry. When combined, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Lightly butter a tin 12 hole cupcake or muffin tray (I don’t think the silicon trays work for pastry).
- Roll out the dough (you only need half if using the full quantity above, pop the other half in the freezer for your next batch of mince pies) on a floured surface until your pastry is about 1/2 cm thick at most. Use two different glasses, one slightly wider than the other. Press out 12 of each discs (you will probably have to roll together the scrap cuts to get enough for 12 of each. Push the slightly larger discs in the cupcake moulds, then pop in a tablespoon of mincemeat, wash the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg and then press on the smaller disc of pastry on top. Do this until all pies are done. Brush the tops of all the pies with a little egg wash.
- Pop into an oven pre-heated to 180C for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Then pop the pies out of the tin and let cool on a wire rack.
- To decorate, sieve a little icing sugar on top and grate over the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange.